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What Brings Joy? (November 2022)

At the Gandhi Institute, we strive to lean into our strengths, joys, and sometimes our growth edges. In a meeting in late November, we shared what’s been feeding our souls in our work. We beamed while sharing these joys with one another. May this sneak peek also lift your spirits and bring you joy.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been imagining and starting to execute a media revolution here at the Institute, supercharging our digital presence, alongside our physical presence.

We’ve focused on capturing energy and insights of staff and finding creative, engaging ways to share all that with our stakeholders. This is kind of allowing me to geek out on the tech side and also to pre-enjoy some of the thoughts and discussions that I anticipate these offerings will generate in the community.

Someone reached out to us to ask if we could be part of a discipline process – but they knew reaching out to us means the person is going to get lots of empathy that they need. And they really just needed a space to vent and be seen and heard and then they were ready to think about what happened. It feels really wonderful that people reach out to us for exactly this: giving someone space to express themselves and be themselves.

I’ve also had some really incredible radically honest conversations lately when I’m like ‘wow, we’re really walking our talk with people giving and receiving in a good way.’ And that’s been really meaning a lot to me in terms of relationship and trust building.

It’s been joyous joining this staff and figuring out how work gets done, how everyone’s thoughtful in their processes and how everyone communicates. To model and fit in, but also collaborate in a way that I’m good at. What brings me joy is joining this community and making my own little nook in it. I’m continually finding out about the good work, and I feel like a detective. Detectives usually find out about crime, but I’m finding out good stuff in the world.

I’ve been finding joy in workshops or even individual meeting spaces when people are in conflict and we can disrupt some of our normal patterns of disempowerment and dehumanization. I was thinking about a time with Jonathon, when we were with undergraduate students and we asked them how they were.

They hadn’t been asked how they felt all week and were being ground down by a type of training that forgets about the human beings that are occupying the space in the room. It’s like we’ve broken a spell, like we’re waking up to one another’s presence.

I just wrapped up the last of our weekly food shares, and although I’m happy not to be harvesting out in the cold, I’ll miss the Saturday drop-offs. When there’s been a lot of people in these late fall weeks, they can kind of forage around and find a lot more than I thought. There’s a lot more abundance in there than it seems when I just walk by.

I’m super grateful to receive donations from Flower City Pickers and Fairport United Methodist Church, who glean or recover food locally. I’ve had moments of connection and really good conversations with volunteers. And I love being able to ring the doorbell and get to know neighbors, or bump into someone on the sidewalk who says, “sure I’ll take a bag.”

What brought me joy in the last couple of months, was finishing up my last assignment to complete my Kingian Nonviolence level two certification. My focus was on the Memphis sanitation strike. I learned about that strike, read books about it, and really broke it down. It just touched me in a way I didn’t think it would: joy in understanding that strike. I have a new appreciation for sanitation workers, and I’m doing little things to help support and give them some ease.

I’m fulfilled by continued collaboration with Centro Gandhi in Venezuela. Conversations with the staff and community members that support principled nonviolence efforts in Venezuela give me a sense of inspiration and joy. Right now, we are working together to identify flyers and infographics from the Gandhi Institute that could be useful for Centro Gandhi’s work in Venezuela. Together, we will translate the information into Spanish so that both organizations can use the Spanish language versions of the resources.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA member coming straight out of college, I wasn’t always so sure that I’d be able to find a job that would fulfill me beyond logistical and adult needs, but while also being fulfilling my passions and interests. At the Gandhi Institute, I have gotten the chance to empower my career, while being able to do work that truly makes me happy and inspired.

From working on a solar panel project to optimize our community garden space, to working on the Season for Nonviolence curriculum and brainstorming new systems that the organization can use to build connections with our neighbors, my projects reflect the holistic mission of the Gandhi Institute. Growing up, my parents always emphasized the importance of finding a job that makes me happy and fulfilled. At the Gandhi Institute I can confidently say that I’m excited and energized to come to work, knowing that I’m doing what I love.

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