A New Graphic Novel Celebrates Beloved Community and the Wisdom of MSC’s Transitions Initiative

Beloved Communities Network Launches Kickstarter for Ten Thousand Beloved Communities

Kristen Zimmerman of Root. Rise. Pollinate! (left) and Leila McCabe of Beloved Communities Network (BCN)

In the earliest and most precarious days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leila McCabe of Beloved Communities Network (BCN) and Kristen Zimmerman of Root. Rise. Pollinate! hosted a series of powerful conversations with ecosystem buddies including Aisha Shillingford of Intelligent Mischief and Mimi Ho, then executive director of Movement Strategy Center (MSC). The focus of their Zoom calls, Zimmerman says, was the fact that, facing isolation and struggle, people “needed to be connected to community and needed to prioritize community.” 

The result of these rich and transformative conversations among friends is now a forthcoming graphic novel, Ten Thousand Beloved Communities. Zimmerman had just completed a program on creating graphic novels around this time, and along with McCabe, she believed the format would offer a beautiful way of inspiring others to commit to community.

Those early conversations centered on what McCabe calls “the arc of this long vision,” or the hundred year vision, along with the sort of portals and touchpoints needed to apply it. Zimmerman shares some of those prompts: “how do we deal with harm when it happens? What are alternatives to the justice system we have now? How do we feed people?”

“The world I imagine my son growing up in has to start with this strong foundation. I want him to have a daily community of practice with beloved community, because that is what will shift us all into the “big B” Beloved Community with big ideals and visions.”

It also coincided with McCabe’s early days as a core staff member at Movement Strategy Center (MSC). She was drawn to MSC a few years before, consulting on some of the Transitions Initiative work, which sparked her imagination. And, as a new mom, her idea of what Beloved Community “actually looked and felt like in practice shifted.” She calls out the sorts of things we can take for granted like “the importance of how we live and show up for each other day to day,” along with “smaller daily interactions” — phone calls, check-ins, help with meals or chores that helped her “feel held.” 

McCabe continues: “the world I imagine my son growing up in has to start with this strong foundation. I want him to have a daily community of practice with beloved community, because that is what will shift us all into the “big B” Beloved Community with big ideals and visions.”

That concept of Beloved Community is rooted in the legacy of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Grace Lee Boggs, and others, and is carried forward through many people investing in the idea that we can live in a world of economic and social justice.

These concepts — that Beloved Community started from the ground up and was much more than a big, overarching vision — didn’t just inspire Ten Thousand Beloved Communities — they also informed her launch of BCN. 

The organization, a Movement Strategy Network (MSN) partner, is a continuation of the years of work and wisdom that went into MSC’s Transitions Initiative, which focuses on the journey of transitioning to a world of love, interdependence, and resilience. McCabe calls the graphic novel “really important for BCN as it is sharing, publicly, the purpose of BCN — our place in this story and how we see Beloved Community. In some ways it feels like this is the launch of BCN.” Truly, it is one of BCN’s first large undertakings, and it acts as a springboard for readers looking to deepen relationships to people and places while becoming catalysts in radically accelerating the practice of Beloved Community through a lens of indigeneity. 

 “The beautiful thing about this project is it is very alive in the sense that it keeps growing and showing us new ways it can be useful.” 

Ten Thousand Beloved Communities’ 160 full-color pages define the story and lineage of Beloved Community, and feature stories of Beloved Community in action along with practices to help readers integrate Beloved Community and the wisdom of the Transitions Initiatives into their daily lives. In all, the book includes writings by 25 artists, cultural workers, movement leaders, and spiritual practitioners, along with a foreword by adrienne maree brown and Zimmerman’s illustrations. 

Zimmerman sees Ten Thousand Beloved Communities as a jumping off point. It already contains people centered stories about particular places and happenings plus quotes and facts about artists and political figures. She envisions postcards and other companion pieces in addition to multiple teaching and learning opportunities, and — hopefully — a proper publishing run with a values-aligned, independent publisher.

McCabe wants to see the book inspire people to embrace Beloved Community. She also sees it as a workbook or curriculum for trainings — “one of BCN’s foundational labs.” She adds, “the beautiful thing about this project is it is very alive in the sense that it keeps growing and showing us new ways it can be useful.” She envisions a stories series, a podcast, and “some other exciting projects that are on the horizon.”

Initially, McCabe and Zimmerman imagined self-publishing their book with a print on demand platform. Ultimately, they decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign instead — to build energy, momentum, and a sense of community around the project. MSC is helping fund the project, and providing copies of the book to core staff who are still learning the tenets of Beloved Community.

But the guide is intended for an audience well beyond the MSC ecosystem. Zimmerman says, “it builds on a lot of the wisdom and the voices of the transitions community,” and it “shares some core practices that people can apply in their own communities.” It’s a chance for anyone who encounters it to continue the work of Beloved Community, and Zimmerman hopes to see “a lot of people pollinating it in many different places, applying it, making it their own, and riffing on it.” She sees Ten Thousand Beloved Communities as a resource for “for people writing their own story, and creating their own community.”

You can pre-order Ten Thousand Beloved Communities here, at the project’s Kickstarter.

The MSC Storytelling Series: Kristen Zimmerman

In this installment we get to know activist, artist and storyteller Kristen Zimmerman — co-founder of Movement Strategy Center (MSC) and Root. Rise. Pollinate!, and illustrator of the new graphic guide Ten Thousand Beloved Communities, a project of  Beloved Communities Network.

“It feels important to start to have other ways of thinking about ourselves or our responsibilities, beyond being an activist or beyond being an advocate or even an organizer,” says Kristen Zimmerman — activist, artist, storyteller, and cofounder of MSC. She continues, “it’s really about … how do you form community?”

Zimmerman “landed in the Bay Area” after a few years working in Asia. Her work in California — much like the work she was doing in Nepal — involved the power of storytelling and culture building, within the spectrum of youth organizing. It was in this work where she crossed paths with Taj James, another of MSC’s co-founders and current Board President. Their first encounter was at an event for an organization called Media Alliance — Zimmerman sensed a “potent connection,” and that the two were “going to know each other for a while.” 

She was right: James was also working with youth organizers at Coleman Advocates for Children. He saw a common thread between his work and Zimmerman’s focus on “participatory action research with youth.” She said James understood “how the different offerings and gifts that different people might have fit together,” and quickly pulled her into a youth-led juvenile justice organization in San Francisco. That early collaboration included a study of recommended reforms with “a parallel youth-led research project” that involved interviewing young people and advocacy “around what should happen.” The project “was really powerful” and “impacted a lot of the trajectories of the young people,” many of whom “kept in touch.” 

Later, while James “decided he was going to start Movement Strategy Center,” Zimmerman was compelled to document some of the local creative and “youth-led efforts,” that, in her opinion, felt like “a cultural moment.” The work was crucial. At that time, the general perception of young people was that they were largely “jaded and inactive.” 

Her storytelling project needed a home, and “none of the established organizations felt right.” She met with James, and they decided her work could be a founding project of whatever it was that James was cooking up. She recalled that everyone involved was “very entrepreneurial,” with projects involving storytelling, personal wellness, alliance building and strategy, social networks, and spirituality. “It was very much just a collection of experiments.” 

“We're not therapists, we're not trained to be healers … But we can bring healing and transformation and embodied practice to groups.”

It felt right, and lasting. At one point, Zimmerman found herself “thinking about multiple decades of change” and how it was likely she’d be with MSC for many years of partnership. That “culture shift” around sustainable organizing appealed to her — especially the focus on collaborative alliances that eliminated the ways organizers often competed with each other for resources.

Even so, organizing was exhausting. There was a realization that “we’re not therapists, we’re not trained to be healers … But we can bring healing and transformation and embodied practice to groups” by collaborating with people who are focused on individual healing and wellness. That was the aha moment — MSC would be an integration of movement work paired with the holistic, emotional support and spirituality needed to sustain the difficulties of movement work.

Enter Norma Wong: James and Zimmerman met Wong when she was working with Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice — a small organizing group focused on Asian communities in Oakland. The group was experiencing growing pains, and while Zimmerman and James consulted on movement and alliance building, Wong was helping them stay grounded and move through conflict with their vision intact. That intimate collaboration “created the beta template” for MSC.

Wong’s ongoing involvement and expertise kept “integrating the embodiment work with the strategy work.” They landed on applied zone work — “also called forward stance.” Early projects included the Move to End Violence, the Transitions Initiative, the Forward Together project (their first project that was rooted in Indigeneity), and a number of other projects and writings.

Kristen, far right, with two participants sitting on the ground by a tree, brainstorming during a transitions lab retreat.

Zimmermanm’s sense of spirituality didn’t start with Wong, though. She explained “a difficult relationship with organized religion,” but a familial “connection to land” — forests, forestry, small-scale farming, and nature in general. Years later, she recalled her mother telling her, “oh yeah, [nature is] our family’s spirituality.”

Her art rounded out that sense of spirituality. As an undergrad, Zimmerman majored in visual arts but felt “a little bit like a misfit in the art department.” Unlike many of her peers, her artwork was “always really community oriented” and “story oriented.” A lot was collaborative, involving immigrant and refugee youth as well as young people in domestic violence shelters. The work was a way to center these youths, who could feel misplaced within “their community’s trajectory,” and to help them “have a healing relationship to their story.” 

Later, an itch to work abroad coincided with a friend’s return from working in education and storytelling within minority and refugee communities in Nepal and Tibet. Inspired, Zimmerman and her friend wrote letters to the Tibetan Department of Education along with the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Tibetan Women’s Congress, two activist groups. In essence, the letters said, “hey, we have this idea. Is it of use to you?”

That sense of community often seemed so lost in the United States: “it takes so much more energy and feels you have to hold the community together rather than the community holding you.” 

That idea became “an intercultural project, doing work both with youth here and youth there, and specifically young people who were navigating questions around identity, belonging, and their own place in a longer arc of their community.” They “collaborated for three years in different spots” with community organizing groups, recent political refugees, elders who had left Tibet, and teachers who were facilitating opportunities for young people to ask questions, develop stories, and interview one another while creating “magazines and exhibits and advocacy efforts.”

The work was a formative experience — “making meaning and helping people find belonging, helping [herself] find belonging,” and learning “how people heal and repair relationships with intergenerational trauma.” Zimmerman “was lucky enough to live in really wonderful communities,” sharing meals, building relationships, and creating art. She had a “visceral sense” of being a guest in a foreign country and in a family’s home, while also “being held by community.” These communities were strong enough to not only support the folks who had always been there, but to hold newcomers. Paired with her exposure to the sense of community in Tibetan Buddhism, she felt inspired “to figure out how to repair and create community in a similar way” at home. That sense of community often seemed so lost in the United States: “it takes so much more energy and feels you have to hold the community together rather than the community holding you.”

“The pollination part feels evocative, it feels more poetic, and it also feels like, yeah, there's a connector part and a life giving part and that feels really important.”

Later, a series of life experiences — the birth of her son, who has Down syndrome, the traumatic loss of her sister when her son was four, and the loss of her mother shortly thereafter — inspired a number of questions: “how do you actually repair human relat​​ionships to each other? How do you form functional communities that are really rooted in place? How do you attend to spirit as part of the center of systemic and cultural transformation?”

It all inspired the here and now: in 2018, alongside Shawna Wakefield and Rufaro Gwarada, Zimmerman founded Root. Rise. Pollinate!, an MSN partner. The project supports a transnational community of individual and collective feminist changemakers with learning and networking opportunities as well as regenerative mind-body-spirit practices. The idea of “pollination” is central: collective changemaking “is really about pollinating new ways of being in a new worldview.” 

She cited a Transitions Initiative-era question: how do “we jump or leap from cultures rooted in violence and separation, extraction, domination, all of that, to cultures and ways of being and seeing the world that are really rooted in our connection and mutuality and care?” The answer is in forming community and connecting to other communities. It’s “a different way of thinking and being” and “the pollination part feels evocative, it feels more poetic, and it also feels like, yeah, there’s a connector part and a life giving part and that feels really important.” 

Illustration by Kristen Zimmerman

Now, she is bringing that sense of community and collaboration to a forthcoming graphic novel. In collaboration with Movement Strategy Network (MSN) partner Beloved Communities Network, this graphic guide to building world-transforming communities features writings by 25 leaders, a foreward by adrienne maree brown, and illustrations by Zimmerman. Ten Thousand Beloved Communities is about deepening relationships to people and places through a lens of indigeneity. The book defines the story and lineage of Beloved Community, and features stories of Beloved Community in action along with practices to help readers integrate Beloved Community and the wisdom of the Transitions Initiatives into their daily lives. 

MSC’s Transitions Initiative, and the affiliated Labs, are mentioned frequently. Some featured culture nights and, chuckling, Zimmerman told us “you could talk to everybody about their culture night moment.” Normally she might’ve gone “up and painted a painting” but “it’s not the same as performing.” One night she mustered up the courage to sing the Bill Withers classic “Lovely Day.” She said: “It’s a testimony to the community side of the work that I could do that … That people joined in … It was the most beautiful thing and I wasn’t doing it alone, which was awesome.”

A Black-owned Farm Blooms
in Sonoma County

Inspired by Octavia E. Butler, Pandora Thomas Grows Fruit and Community at EARTHseed Farm

As climate disasters dominate headlines, and rent hikes, state-sponsored violence, and union-busting billionaires fuel social inequalities, the premise of the Parable Series, sci-fi books by the beloved ancestor and New York Times best-selling writer Octavia E. Butler, can feel more like prophecy than speculative fiction.

Photo of Pandora Thomash EARTHseed by Paige Green Photography for Made Local Magazine
Photo by Paige Green Photography for Made Local Magazine

The staffers and activists that populate MSC’s ecosystem are “positively obsessed” with the series; and that includes Pandora Thomas — a former Climate Fellow with the People’s Climate Innovation Center. Thomas is the founder and land steward of EARTHseed Farm — a 14-acre  solar-powered farm and orchard — the first Black-owned farm in Sonoma County. And, she named her farm after a religion that Butler created for said series of books. 

Earthseed, as revealed in the series, is a religion based on the idea that “God is Change” and adaptation is crucial: all the seeds of all life on earth can be transplanted and, through adaptation, will grow in many different situations or places. The concept resonates in the world of transformative movement building:

All that you touch, you Change. 

All that you Change Changes you. 

The only lasting truth is Change. 

– Octavia Butler, from the Parable of the Sower

All that is to say: when our core staff convened at our Oakland office this summer, it was a perfect opportunity to pay a visit to EARTHseed Farm. Like its namesake religion, the farm practices relationship-based design while reconnecting and evolving in its Afro-Indigenous principles and practices. 

Butler’s character Lauren Oya Olamina’s commitment to spreading the message of Earthseed is not unlike Thomas’ goals for her farm. Thomas envisioned a place where Black and Indigenous communities can reclaim their relationship to the earth, their history, and the future. With the permission and blessings of the Graton Rancheria Tribe, a federation of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo groups, Thomas, a passionate global citizen, established her Black-led and operated farm in March 2021. In addition, Thomas works as a caregiver for her mother and globally as a teacher, writer, designer, and speaker, and co-founded the Black Permaculture Network. 

Located on the ancestral lands of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Peoples in California’s Sonoma County, the farm is an example of permaculture stewardship in action: an ecological design system embedded in Indigenous wisdom that elevates ecosystem health while meeting human needs. The rows of fruit trees and berry brambles — which are bordered with flowers and herbs for cutting and drying — are managed by a group of like-minded practitioners and sing with bees and butterflies. Crops include various apples and pears, persimmons, plums, pluots, guavas, and mixed berries.

Signs throughout the farm remind us that berries are a self-protecting bunch and to pay our respects to the fruits we pick. The sign asks patrons to introduce themselves to the fruit, ask for its permission, and send appreciation for all it does for us.

Honoring ancestors and the land is integral to the EARTHseed Farm mission. Signs throughout the farm remind us that berries (and their thorns) are a self-protecting bunch; and that we should always pay our respects to the fruit we pick. Signs ask patrons to introduce themselves to the fruit, ask for its permission, and send appreciation for all it does for us.   

EARTHseed sells produce wholesale and runs a popular U-pick program from May to November that is open to the public. During our visit, we ran into visitors like Janie, from the East Bay, who is a big fan of the Parable Series and brought her friends to pick fruit after discovering the farm in a Google search for Butler’s Earthseed concept. U-Pick Steward Lisbeth Paniagua walked the group through the farm, educating the guests on permaculture design while showing off the ripest fruits and berries. 

EARTHseed’s wellness and health products are produced by Herb Diva Abi, the owner of the Stinging Nettles, or otherwise sourced from Black-owned farms.

We also met Abi Huff, a.k.a. “Herb Diva,” the owner of the Stinging Nettle and director of Healing Clinic Collective — an MSC fiscally sponsored project — restocking the farm store shelves with herbal creams and insect repellents. She shared her warm memories of the Black to the Land Gatherings EARTHseed hosted last Spring to reconnect folks to the roots of Afro-Indigenous wisdom. Their first event was in partnership with CAFF and gathered BIPOC land stewards from the region. Huff told us what an incredible experience it was to arrive at the event and be greeted by so many beautiful Black and brown faces — in an area that isn’t famed for its diversity. She told us the series was a fantastic way to build and support the community. 

Thomas has long been known for building relationships and sharing her ideology with neighbors across age, race, and economics — spreading ideas of resilience and self-determination. This particular Saturday morning as we entered the farm, we were greeted to the sounds of resident musicians, Leon and Kevin, who featured bluegrass tunes and traditional African instruments including the African Burkina Faso. 

With freshly cut flowers from their garden, and a note to the entire EARTHseed Farm family, neighbors living across the street from the farm stopped by to introduce themselves and welcome the EARTHseed team.

Later, we met Thomas’ neighbors from across the lane. They arrived bearing freshly cut flowers from their garden along with a note to the entire EARTHseed Farm family. We spent the next hour or so with the couple, walking the grounds, checking out the resident pigs, taking in the impressive solar panels, and attempting to identify the butterflies swarming otherworldly passion flowers studding a thicket of passionfruit vines. Thomas and her neighbors chatted like old friends — so it is no surprise that she has made quite a splash for herself within the tight-knit community along Sullivan Road in Sebastopol.

Visiting EARTHseed Farm was an inspiring treat and fed our imaginations. As communities work diligently to reverse historic harms and restore regenerative systems that honor our humanity, EARTHseed Farm is a place of solace, refuge, and healing for the Afro-Indigenous community, and for food- and nature-lovers of all stripes.

The farm is a part of Thomas’ new Sankofa Project — one of MSC’s new FSPs and member of the Movement Strategy Network. Sankofa will include Thomas’ work with Marin City and Urban Permaculture Institute. You can support this work through donations, by volunteering, by stopping by to shop or pick fruit, or by spreading the word about this remarkable farm. Share this blog and share the possibilities EARTHseed Farm can inspire. And check out the sights and sounds of EARTHseed in our gallery below.

The MSC Storytelling Series: Jacqui Patterson

In this installment we get to know researcher, advocate, and activist Jacqueline “Jacqui” Patterson founder and executive director of the Chisholm Legacy Project former director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program; co-founder of Women of Color United; and proud board member of MSC.

“It wasn’t a coincidence, it wasn’t happenstance.” So says Jacqui Patterson — activist, founder of the Chisholm Legacy Project, and MSC board member — on how she made her way to Movement Strategy Center. 

She was introduced to MSC through Movement Generation but if it wasn’t that it would’ve been something else: “the universe … draws like-mission and like-spirited people together.” She knew from the beginning there was alignment in work and in mission and it became clearer as Patterson participated in MSC’s movement support work — the Transitions Labs, the facilitation of conversations and meetings, and the cultivation of projects. “There are so many points of resonance and alignment in everything that MSC does … Whether it is the heart of the people … Or the way that they facilitate conversations about collective organizing toward the world that we want, MSC has been an inspiration, a catalyst, and a facilitator of radical imagination and a radical love in action.”

Patterson hails from the southside of Chicago — a very urban place not far from the other, more suburban side of the tracks. Her neighborhood offered many of the great touchstones of city life — ice cream trucks, block parties, and community. But also some of the worst: there were gangs, the sound of gunshots weren’t uncommon, and concerns about her brother simply existing as a Black boy in America were pervasive. 

Her family blended two cultures — her mother came up to Chicago during the Great Migration from Dublin, Mississippi; her dad immigrated there from Jamaica. The result was an upbringing steeped in both Deep South and Jamaican influences: a culture of food (collard greens plus curried chicken) and music (rhythm and blues plus reggae). Patterson’s ancestry is in sub-Saharan Africa; her common history involves those ancestors being stolen from their homelands and brought to unceded territories in both the United States and Jamaica to become the enslaved labor behind the economy and the infrastructure of those respective lands. 

She says, “I am who I am out of that history and that story. And, I am who I am in celebration of the rich cultural heritage and in resistance to and in reparations from how the heritage and ties to nation and community were interrupted by colonialism. I do what I do to both celebrate and treasure that cultural heritage.”

There are so many points of resonance and alignment in everything that MSC does … Whether it is the heart of the people … Or the way that they facilitate conversations about collective organizing toward the world that we want, MSC has been an inspiration, a catalyst, and a facilitator of radical imagination and a radical love in action.

Her work reflects this. She is working to restore “linkages in some ways to the motherland,” and “address, redress, and correct the carnage and the aftermath of colonialism and where it has left our communities as a result of the systemic exploitation, extraction, and oppression.” The work centers on Black and BIPOC communities all over the world; and is in partnership with all “the aligned and the allied — anyone who is allied and aligned with the mission of Black liberation.”

For her, liberation ensures “that all people have self determination and have what they need to be whole and thriving.” And it starts with accountability — “my purpose is to be in service to the quest for self determination and liberation of Black frontline communities.” 

So much of that begins with being very “intentional about who is not even being thought of by those sitting at the table — much less are they even at the table.” In terms of climate justice, Patterson wants everyone to have a seat. Thus, a focus on chronically ignored Freedman’s Settlements — communities, many unincorporated, established by those “just emancipated from enslavement.” 

One, a community of only about 100 people outside Dallas, is Sandbranch, Texas. Stunningly, this unincorporated village adjacent to one of our country’s wealthiest cities has never had running water. Their well water was contaminated in the 1980s, and today, residents rely mainly on donated bottled water — not just for drinking, but for cooking and bathing. Stories like these are at the center of the Patterson-founded Chisholm Legacy Project — an organization that connects Black communities on the frontlines with the resources necessary to implement transformation. 

It isn’t easy work. And that’s why Patterson so valued the aforementioned Transitions Labs — these safe spaces offered community and reflection. A way to, at least metaphorically, refill your cup. These gatherings also made it clear that “all the work around social justice and systems change is intersectional.” A priceless opportunity “to explicitly be engaged with folks who are doing work from gender justice to education justice to general economic justice and so forth, and to really come together and talk about this notion of Just Transition and this ideal that we want as a society.” She acknowledges the concept “might sound utopian,” but for the frontliners in attendance that discussion and that space is “a necessity in order to survive and thrive as people.”

All the work around social justice and systems change is intersectional.

It can be hard for outsiders to understand what these retreats and workshops were like. Patterson describes them as a chance to step “away from the day to day, the list of deliverables … The nonprofit industrial complex.” Crucially, they offered an opportunity to discuss the roles and purpose of both the individuals and the organizations across various movements in “a space of ideating … Set up to accommodate all learning and being styles.” 

Attendees showed up with “a selfless sense of mission, so there was a level of trust and safety there.” And the work — deep conversation and reflection, “the practices: tai chi, somatics, embodiment … Various exercises that got you out of your head and into the culture” — fostered intimate connection. “We can go whole days, weeks, or months without thinking about that larger arc,” so the safe space to simply “think and be” was invaluable and unlike so many other gatherings and workshops.  

It was at one of these Transitions Labs in the Redwood Forest — “a generative environment” — that Patterson felt everything sort of gel: her work, her goals, her collaborations with MSC. The activity at hand involved focusing on “developing a seed of an idea and being with people who were like-minded, like-focused, and like-spirited who were also growing their own seeds.” The seed that “began to truly blossom” for Patterson that day — while laying on the floor with her peers and remembering the iconic book the Bridge Called My Back, a collection of radical writings by Black women — involved “work specifically focused on supporting the wellbeing of Black femmes.”

That “unformed dream” turned “into an action plan … That birthed the fourth element of focus of the Chisholm Legacy Project — the focus on Black femme support.” Patterson explained that she had observed the “level of weight on Black femmes in terms of holding so much, our families, our organizations, the movement, in the case of Alabama and Georgia — actual democracy. Yet so often you see our sisters in the struggle are so weighed down by that.” 

Sighting stress, premature deaths, and all the ways these weights can negatively manifest in the health of her peers inspired the project’s steadfast support of wellbeing. She believes this concept of “community care, organizational care, movement care — instead of just preaching self care to someone who is always going to put themselves last” is crucial to the future of the movement.   

Today, Patterson feels honored to continue to support MSC as a board member, calling the work “a blessing.” Likewise, she values “the opportunity to continue to be in relationship with the innovations team that is doing amazing work,” citing her participation as a founding member of the National Association of Climate Resilience Planners. She looks forward to “continuing to support Climate Innovation’s (soon to be renamed People’s Climate Innovation Center (PCIC)) team” and ensuring “that the communities that we work with — including the Black femme climate justice leaders — are able to connect with and be nurtured by the rich range of offerings that MSC has,” especially in terms of climate resilience planning and training and Black youth leadership development.

And, circling back to the Freedman’s Settlements and towns like Sandbranch, she looks forward to growing “the ways that MSC’s fiscal sponsorship and regranting programs can benefit some of the most marginalized Black communities in the United States.” She continued, “the hope is that MSC and the Chisholm Legacy Project can together support the self determination and liberation of these communities all over the nation.”

She also hopes that others — new friends of MSC, new members of the collective movement ecosystem — get the chance to experience something like MSC’s Transitions Labs. They so deeply and positively affected Patterson and she recalled — with a lot of laughter and a little bit of embarrassment — one opportunity where participants were invited to write letters of appreciation to each other. Other people maybe wrote one or two and I literally sat there and wrote super sappy love letters to everyone. I was just feeling literally just full of so much love for everyone who participated.”