“To enter and influence history in connection with other people is the need that aches in all our deepest selves. It is this uniquely human desire that is missing in the so called “American” materialism and individualism. We have not fulfilled our need to exercise social and political responsibility because we have been cast adrift in a sea of technological solutions. It is this need that we must now recognize, strive to nurture and incorporate into our struggle to change ourselves and the World in which we live.”
These words from the revolutionary and visionary leader Grace Lee Boggs remind us that we are called to be in relationship with one another, and in order to change the conditions of the world, we must be willing to change ourselves. As this year marks my sixth year in leadership at OPAL, it also is a time for change. It is with the deepest gratitude and love that I am transitioning out of the organization at the end of the month.
I first came to know OPAL in 2012 when I showed up to a Bus Riders Unite rally protesting fare hikes and service cuts outside of TriMet’s offices. Working with my community in outer Southeast Portland with ROSE Community Development, my analysis around the intersections of housing, transportation and economic justice was taking shape. I wanted to uplift the stories of hundreds of low-income renters in ROSE housing who also needed reliable, affordable public transit to expand their access to opportunity. What I saw at the rally awakened my political spirit: a powerful and diverse group of people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds united together to push back against a decision that would directly impact their daily lives as low-income people struggling to live in a rapidly changing city. I knew that day what I was bearing witness to was radical and special here in Portland. In the subsequent years, I have strived to build alongside you the narratives and direct actions which honors that radical, unique space that OPAL fills for so many of us as our political home. Together, we have won campaigns that have affirmed the dignity, ingenuity and power of our community. We have preserved the floor of civil rights in our institutions in the face of ongoing and worsening attacks. We have challenged power because we have never been confused about what’s at stake.
There have been countless mentors, comrades and partners that have supported my leadership throughout the years. Every relationship developed over these past six years has in its own way challenged me to make myself vulnerable in order to connect more deeply and meaningfully with your stories, your struggles, and your vision for the world that we all deserve to live in. The confidence I have in OPAL’s relevance and influence in our political and social sphere has never been stronger than now, guided by a visionary board of directors, dedicated members and committed staff, and supported by an ever-growing network of co-conspirators.
My life has been profoundly changed because I have been in your company and agitated alongside you in a movement that transcends our individual self-interests and ties our fates to one another. Thank you for contributing to a transformative experience these past six years. The next chapter of my movement journey will be as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Verde. I am excited to build on Verde’s strong history and practice of engaging in-sector and out-of-sector partnerships to generate new resources to build environmental wealth in our communities. My new role will keep me in partnership with many of you, so this is not so much a farewell and much as an opportunity to build the new economy and implement a just transition through innovation and strategic partnerships.
Leaders are developed and nurtured at OPAL, and your support of that work is necessary. Please consider making a donation today and join me in celebrating a tremendous journey on Friday, August 31st at the Portland Mercado. I’d be delighted to see you there.
In Unity and with Much Love,