Community Leaders Imagine Innovative Solutions to Injustice
WFMN’s virtual convening, Investing in Transformation: Solutions from WFMN’s Listening Series, represented the cultivation of our year-long Road to Transformation where we listened to, learned from, and amplified the solutions of community to our state’s most persistent inequities and injustices. Five brilliant panelists engaged in a conversation moderated by Lissa Jones and added their thoughts and reflections to the themes and solutions that surfaced during WFMN’s Listening Series. We were so inspired by their bold, innovative reflections as they are already leading Minnesota toward a new day of gender and racial justice. The vision they shared with us during this convening underscores that communities know best what they need, and women are leading the way to transformation.
Our visionary panelists underscored the power of collective action and the importance of placing care and community wisdom at the center of all we do. Kandace Montgomery of Black Visions shared, “When we are reimagining the systems that give women and girls the safety they deserve, we need to reimagine them with care at the center.” Alicia Kozlowski from the City of Duluth shared the importance of leading with an Indigenous worldview focused on our interrelationship with one another, the environment, and all living things: “We belong to each other. We are related to everything. We take care of each other.”
In pointing the way forward, Dr. Joi Lewis shared a powerful quote from adrienne maree brown about the power of truth telling in the healing that must accompany our collective and individual transformation:
“What’s true is [that] trauma makes weapons of us. If we are going to grow, we must embrace truth telling. We must generate our compassion. We must learn to set and hold boundaries within community, on this planet we share. We must learn what is worth our attention, and how powerful our attention is. We must get more passionate about healing than we are about punishing.”
Angelica Klebsch, senior advisor on special projects & policy for the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, challenged us to continue to capitalize on the momentum and innovation that has been building in communities through the pandemic and the movement for racial justice. “We need more people in office who have experienced these issues,” she shared. Kandace pointed to the urgency of our time, “We have an opportunity to dream big. I think we need to stop settling, because the conditions continue to get worse. […] Our time is burning, which should inspire us to continue to be visionary. To ask for everything we need and that we deserve.”
Policy solutions identified by our panel include investing in universal health care, expanding paid family leave, as well as sick and safe leave throughout the state, raising the minimum wage, subsidizing childcare, affordable housing, and paying healers to lead culturally responsive and essential healing within communities. Neda Kellogg of Project DIVA International shared a solution identified by girls that we must get financial education to our kids in schools so they can create their own pathways to prosperity.
A key solution we heard across all nine Listening Sessions is that to create change we must amplify the voices and power of women, girls, and Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. When we listen, believe, and trust in their leadership and place communities at the center of our solutions, we transform our world.
Learn more about the solutions identified through our Listening Sessions! Read the executive summary and reports from WFMN’s Road to Transformation Listening Series and see how we are already investing in the solutions we heard with responsive strategies, grantmaking, and innovation to advance community power and leadership, safety, economic justice, and holistic well-being.