Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Community'

4.15.14

What Holding Hands Can Teach You
by Krista Colleague Neshia Alaovae '12

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Community, Healthcare, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections

In many ways, my year of service began two weeks after it was scheduled to start. Though Joseph's House placed great importance on being mindful and fully present in the moment, I spent my first week there distracted by how unfamiliar this new world was. On my third day at Joseph's House, one of the residents died and the sudden initiation into the immensity of my work for the year was overwhelming. I was being asked to form genuine relationships from the moment someone entered the home to the moment I would escort that same person into a hearse. I felt so different from the people I was being asked to become one with. I was young, educated, and healthy. They were older, destitute, and dying. How am I going to do this, I wondered. How am I going to fit here?

A week later, I was at the bedside of a resident named Brad. It was my first time holding vigil by myself for someone who was near death. I was acutely aware of how Brad's labored breathing was causing my anxiety level to rise. His inability to speak left me speechless. I was nervous being so close to death, and even more mystified about what exactly I was supposed to be doing.

Not knowing what else to do, I reached for his hand. He squeezed my fingers with a strength that surprised me. I pulled my chair closer and shut my eyes. Quieting myself, I focused all of my attention on his breathing. Slowly, I inhaled and exhaled until our breaths were synchronized. Little by little, I realized how intense this moment must be for him. My breaths came easily, supported by lungs that were full of vigor. His breaths were short and rapid, maintained by a body reluctantly shutting down after its long struggle with cancer.

I looked down at our hands and for a few seconds I could not distinguish mine from his. I stared at our intertwined fingers trying to figure out why it was so difficult to see what belonged to me and what belonged to him. Then it came to me: our skin was the exact same shade of brown. We were a perfect color match. In my 22 years of life, that had never happened before. No one was ever my exact brown. Not anyone I encountered studying abroad in Zambia, not any of the models on my makeup bottles, not even anyone in my multi-racial family. No one but this stranger dying beside me. In that moment, something clicked for me.

The Krista Foundation places great emphasis on equipping Colleagues to be practitioners of intercultural competence with tools before a year of service as well as support during and after that service. There is a realization that everyone brings to an experience his or her own rich, complex cultural history. The challenge is to find a way, in the midst of what seems foreign and uncomfortable, from your own sense of normal to a place of understanding and empathy. We can spend so much time fixating on the things that divide us, that we forget to slow down, listen to each other's shared breaths, and see that our hands are meant to be held.

Brad passed away soon after that quiet afternoon. I thought of him often as I held the hands of many others who came through the Joseph's House door. No one was my exact shade of brown, but that didn't really matter. What I learned about Brad after his death was inspiring. Before his cancer, he had been a well-known advocate in Washington, D.C. for those who were homeless or suffering in the margins. He was eloquent, bold, and deeply spiritual. He began his own non-profit, dreamed about making a pilgrimage to India, and was in the process of dictating his life and philosophy to a friend so that his legacy of courage would not be forgotten. My stereotype of everyone at Joseph's House being poor, helpless people who needed my privileged service was shattered by Brad. He did not need me. He was not impressed by me. He was not inferior to me in any way.

On the contrary, I needed him to teach me how to see past the differences I had been taught to fear, and find a new way to grow in curiosity and compassion. The magnitude of how he lived and the grace with which he died still motivates me to be fearless. But the biggest lesson he taught me, the gift I will never be able to repay, was holding my hand on his deathbed. He had enough strength to refuse my presence, and yet he didn't. Brad took my hand, held it with the last of his energy, and taught me how to truly accompany.

In my experience serving in hospice, when someone is dying that person no longer cares about all of the ways that made him or her stand out in life. What matters most in those final moments is knowing that even if that person did not receive it in life, in this moment he or she is seen, heard, and adored. By holding my hand Brad taught me to make the effort to suspend my cultural lens enough to truly see, deeply hear, and come to adore those who seem different. I spent the rest of my year trying to do that, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to as well. I have learned that when all else fails, when I cannot seem to find a way to bridge the dissimilarities between myself and another, to hold out my hand. Even if the back of our hands look different, I know that the skin of our palms will be the same. That is enough.

2.26.14

Little Things Console Us Because Little Things Afflict Us
by Nikkita Oliver - Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Intercultural Development, Law, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Global Citizenship, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

Little things console us because little things afflict us.
- Pascal

 

I recently attended the "RACE: Are We So Different?" exhibit at the Seattle Center as part of a Krista Foundation outing with the Krista Colleague community. Once inside, I found myself at a unique display including a binder full of notecards where many visitors expressed both contempt and reverence for sports mascots.

A number of the commenters self-identified as Native, illuminating the trauma and harm that sports mascots inflict on them, their tribes, and communities. Juxtaposed to these heartfelt truths were the thoughts of those who see no problem with the manner in which sports teams have co-opted Native cultural images and in many instances commercialized the most stereotypical Native images. As if the dialogue were not complex enough, there were those who self-identified as Native who took no issue with the mascots and maybe even saw other issues as more concerning.

One comment stood out vividly. A member of the Tlingit tribe described what they believed to be the gravest issues facing Native communities. They discussed the life expectancy of Native males and the drop-out rate of Native teens, stating, "These issues are far more important than sports team mascots." To many, Native mascots do not seem like a big issue, but often it is the things that seem the smallest that have the greatest impact.

As a brown person in the white institution of law I constantly deal with small nuanced forms of racism that exist because of larger ones. The larger ones will continue to exist because we are afraid and/or unwilling to deal with the smaller forms of racism.

There is an overall acceptance of the co-optation of cultural assets in the United States with disregard for the impact on communities and people. Additionally, rarely do the owners and creators of those cultural assets receive any sort of recognition or payment for the use of their image even when the image is being used for profit. This process further contributes to the damage done to a community or cultural groups psyche and continues to propel a negative and oppressive relationship between the "minority" and the "majority"1.

While some non-Native people may not see the problem, and may even point to to those Native people who take no issue with it to legitimate their own point of view, the reality is there are Native peoples who are offended by the use of their cultural assets as mascots. When considering racial and ethnic concerns that may seem minute, it is important to remember that big things are often made of smaller things. A small cut can very easily become an infection and a small change can be the catalyst needed to spark a big change.

Dr. John M. Perkins speaks of these little things in his work. When I was in college I sat in a room of young leaders at Seattle Pacific University eager to make change in the world. He told us the key to community development is understanding that the most obvious problems are often symptoms of a larger underlying illness. He told us, "rarely is the solution to the most obvious struggle the root cause of the problem". He encouraged us to consider the small and often times overlooked concerns, especially if those are the concerns the community is point us towards.

He then shared with us this story:

A team of community developers arrived in a neighborhood. They interviewed the people, did research and prepared a list of things they believed the community needed to solve. This list had hundreds of items ranked from the most important to the least. The community members' response to the community developers was that the rat problem was the most important issue to address. The rat problem was ranked in the lowest portion of the list the developers created. Despite their own ideas, the community developers listened to the neighborhood and addressed the rat problem first. As the rats disappeared so did most of the list.

Dr. Perkins shared this story to remind us of two key principles in community development: The small things matter and a community knows itself better than an outside community developer.

At the University of Washington Law School, I listen to people daily discuss our systems and struggles - rarely reflecting on their own role in a problematic system. They hardly ever consider the importance and value of community voice and in particular those communities that are marginalized and disenfranchised. In these spaces there are few people of color, and like those who shared their opinions in the binder at the race exhibit, we do not always agree on the solution. This often becomes a tool of division, co-optation, and/or further marginalization of those voices who speak in opposition to the majority opinion.

Listening is of the utmost importance in addressing any and every situation. If we do not first listen, we will not know how to act in ways that promote wholeness and reconciliation. Too often in U.S. culture do we rely on our formal education (and our privilege) as clout for why we should lead or be in charge. We are not very good at following those who have less formal education, though the community members have far more experience and knowledge regarding their community.

Mascots may seem like a small issue, but when we consider our generational memories of historic racial violence and present afflictions we can see that the psyches of people of color (and white people) have been damaged by big things sustained by small consistent actions and inactions. This small act is the continued poking and prodding on a large wound and emblematic of how we often devalue other people and their cultures. Mascots may not seem like a big deal in light of drop-out rates and mass incarceration, but they are small piece of the puzzle in addressing the root causes of both individual and institutional racism. Our willingness and humility to eliminate the "small" things are a way we show our love and respect for humanity and lead us towards addressing the "larger" struggles.

I believe that we would better serve each other and society if we learned to see multiple solutions, no matter how big or small, as viable and equally necessary; to address the mascots, drop-out rates and mass incarceration all at once.

The work of reconciliation is not easy and often happens in the least obvious places. Reconciliation, like a journey, happens one step at time; sometimes in small steps and sometimes in large strides. We often do not know the value of our small steps, but without them we would not have made it through the journey. Listening and acting on the small things makes the big changes possible.

 

1 The use of quotations around "majority" and "minority" is to signify an important nuance in the use of these terms. It is not to say one group is more major and the other more minor, but in this instance referring to specifically numbers or the size of the population of people. The majority being the larger quantitative group and minority being a smaller quantitative group. In the United States the use of these terms in this manner is appropriate, but in a place like South Africa, where the minority (Dutch/white South Africans) were in power and the majority (Native/black South Africans) were not, these terms must be used differently. 

4.23.13

Colleague Pledge Drive | Week 2 | On the Service Journey w/ Eli Burnham

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Urban America, Community, Community, Healthcare, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service


Click here to track the pledge drive progress.   

It is week 2 of the Colleague Pledge Drive. Thanks so much for joining in this journey of giving. As of last week, Colleague giving has helped us reach $4,520.00 in gifts and pledges; there are over a dozen colleague monthly donors! Our goal this year is to raise $8,000.00 - we're more than halfway there.  

Each week, we'll be releasing a video featuring colleagues at different points along the service journey. Today, we're excited to highlight 2012 Krista Colleague Eli Burnham who is in transition from service year to a life of service leadership (with dreams to become a nurse!) Eli continues to work at the organization - Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle - where he served as part of his placement with Quaker Experiential Service & Training. 

Click To Make A Gift Of Any Amount. 

 

 

4.15.13

Longing for Racial Justice
by Brandon Casey Adams, '09 Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Krista Foundation Press, Urban America, Community, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

When it came time to register for the White Privilege Conference, I had to fill out the form quickly. That's because going deep into the topic of my whiteness always frightens me, and I knew that attending this conference would be the biggest uncomfortable race-related experience for me since my involvements in American Ethnic Studies during my time in undergrad. Despite the fears, I was glad to know that I would not be alone in the hard conversations about race and racism. In fact, out of the 2000 diverse attendees that registered for this year's conference, I was glad to be alongside 12 fellow members of Wallingford United Methodist Church as well as Zach, Stacy, Valerie, and Neah from the Krista Foundation. With deeply rooted community like that, meaningful dialogue on just about any issue is possible!

As you may know by now, one of the issues discussed at the White Privilege Conference is, well, white privilege. Even after many times hearing of or learning about the term white privilege, it's always nice to be reminded what this term really means. The term points to the fact that still today, whiteness carries loads of cultural capital. Without often recognizing it, I believe that we who are white actually cash in on the invisible advantages of our perceived "whiteness" each and every day. This gigantic form of inequality between white folks and people of color not only brings up the sting of white guilt, but much more importantly it does great harm to our relationships, especially with people of color who often encounter very different realities than many of us white folks experience.

Because I long for racial justice and healing within the human experience, I ended up feeling nothing but grateful to be present at a conference that was focused on creating racial justice from many different angles and approaches. Though it's not easy, being in a conference space (or book group space and/or community space, for that matter) where whiteness and racism are discussed has really helped me to more clearly identify the mechanisms that reinforce racial preference. And at the conference, being in a large group of white people who are also choosing to fight off racial privileging as a component of being in solidarity with people of color helped me to get more perspective on how I can continually contribute to co-creating a more just society.

After the conference, I started paying more attention to the many instances where people affirm my (unearned) moral goodness, success potential, and ability to be influential. Often at a very micro level, I see instances of this happening literally every day. A few hours ago, an example of this arrived in my inbox at work. I received an email response from an IT person who informed me that an important email that had gotten caught in my spam filters was now "whitelisted" - meaning that it got the stamp of approval for not being malicious spam and was therefore given permissions to enter my inbox. Acutely aware of how racial micromessaging comes in all shapes and sizes, I wrote right back to her. I said, "Thanks for helping me with that!" Then I added, "And on a side note, I encourage you to join my effort to get people to say good-list and bad-list, because it's always been weird to me that white ends up meaning good!" Friendly enough. Clear enough! She wrote back saying that she liked that change.

Progress toward racial justice will certainly involve a combination of many big steps, and even more small steps. For me, each of those steps are a little scary, or a little messy, and are commonly not the ‘safe' thing to do. But if there's one thing that the White Privilege Conference does a fantastic job of conveying, it is that white people have an enormous opportunity to break apart the structures that hold racism in place. As we in the Krista Foundation seek clarity regarding our responsibilities as global citizens, I with my whole heart invite each of us to scoot in closer to this messy table of racial justice work. It may not always be easy, but when we struggle for this together, we edge nearer to the beloved community that we have so often imagined.

 


Brandon Casey Adams is a 2009 Krista Colleague with a service placement from Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Chicago. He taught video production to underserved high school youth and served as an advisor to a student club. In addition, advising several video projects that students did through Free Spirit Media. Currently, Brandon is living in Seattle with his wife, Kara. He is working at All for Kidz as a Digital Media Developer. 

3.6.13

SIP with Krista Colleagues: Service in Perspective

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Community, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Transitions Home & Beyond

SIP (Service in Perspective) with Krista Colleagues and Foundation Friends at our quarterly gathering!

When: Sunday, March 24th 4:00-6:00pm

Where: Seattle, WA

What: Join us for an informal time to connect and explore the joys and challenges of faith-filled service leadership in our personal and professional lives while enjoying the flavors of the season.

SIP will feature local wines by Sozo Friends. You can purchase single bottles of wine or become part of our quarterly Sojourner Wine Club. Sozo Friends partners with nonprofits, such as the Krista Foundation, and donates a percent of each bottle's proceeds to support the organization.

RSVP by March 18th to Valerie Norwood for details and directions. Space is limited.

val@kristafoundation.org or call 206-349-3582 

Next SIP Quarterly: June 23rd

PS these gatherings are for fun and community building. 
No cost, no ask.

6.8.12

2012 Keynote Video: Krista Foundation Conference

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Community, Education, Environment, Faith/Theological Exploration, Global Citizenship, Sustaining Service


conference logoThis Keynote Address: Roots of Hope, was given Saturday, May 26th, 2012, at The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship's Annual Conference.

Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics for Seattle University's Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Environmental Studies Program, and School of Theology and Ministry. Her current book project concerns faith-based response to systemic evils such as racism, economic exploitation, and ecological devastation.

The Krista Foundation 2012 Conference theme was Growing Service Leadership: Rooted for Life. Over the weekend, young adults in our program and intergenerational mentors spent time learning together how to develop and maintain healthy roots amidst the challenges of service and transition.

6.5.12

Introducing the 2012 Krista Colleague Cohort

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Community, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Preparing To Serve

The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship is thrilled to announce the 2012 Krista Colleague cohort. These creative young leaders are currently or soon to be heading into long term volunteer or vocational service in developing nations, urban U.S., or the environment. They were recently commissioned at the Krista Foundation's Annual Conference over Memorial Day Weekend. Watch the video and discover where their journey of service is taking them next!

Join the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship in celebrating their choice to serve and learn from communities across the U.S. and around the world.

The Krista Foundation accompanies young adults before, during, and for years after long-term volunter or vocational service. The purpose is to empower these young adults to transform their service experiences into lives of service leadership.

To scroll though the list of 2012 Colleagues, click here.

Learn more about the Krista Foundation.

4.27.12

5.20.12 is the KF Annual Day of Prayer

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Community, Faith/Theological Exploration, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Sustaining Service

Day of Prayer | 5.20

Kara with kids in BoliviaEach year, the KF marks May 20th as a special day of prayer for the life of The Krista Foundation extended community. We pause to remember the young adults accompanying people around the world in mutual service and learning. Krista Colleagues serving around the globe send in celebrations and prayer requests.

In Spokane: Join a gathering from 3-5PM at the Hearth for afternoon tea in the garden.
(9115 N. Mtn. View Lane, Spokane, 99218)
Elsewhere in the world: Join in prayer at 12 noon where you are.

To request the full Prayer Guide in PDF, please email jonathan@kristafoundation.org (we will email it to you on the 18th).

4.20.12

Service Leadership Update- A Voice for Justice

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Faith/Theological Exploration, Poverty: Urban US & International, Sustaining Service

nikkita oliver, photo by Contina Kemp"Justice, like people, has living impact" writes Nikkita Oliver ('08), who currently teaches poetry, debate and biblical leadership, and runs the chapel program at the Seattle Urban Academy (SUA). Serving for two years as a chaplain and service provider at the King County Youth Detention Center, Nikkita accompanied youth struggling in the system, and listened to their stories. "...The law should work to the benefit of the people,"writes Nikkita, "In my experience, I have not seen the law work as such." These troubling encounters have strengthened her resolve to bring legal literacy and empowerment to her south Seattle community.

 

Colleagues Nikkita Oliver '08 and Laura Wright '11She has a track record of developing community youth. An active musician and spoken word artist, Nikkita facilitates community spaces for youth to give voice to their world. A member of the 2011 KF Conference planning team, also she used her artistic gifts to lead the worship service. This month, Nikkita received the exciting news that she earned a full scholarship to attend the University of Washington Law School. The KF community celebrates Nikkita as she takes the next step on her journey of service leadership.

3.16.12

The Krista Foundation is Serving TEA

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Community

Serving Tea

Join or continue the conversation on service leadership with the KF staff and Colleagues. How can we continue to build connections and make ripples? Share a story of service leadership that shapes you or a vision of service leadership that inspires you. 

Please join us for tea and conversation. "Steep" in stories of TEA (Transformation: Ethics and Accompaniment).

Get a taste of how the Krista Foundation helps young leaders transform service experiences into lives of service leadership.

It's a conversation. We look forward to your input. There won't be an ask.

When:
Wednesday April 4th, 5-6pm

Where: 
Our Seattle/Greenlake office
6827 Oswego Pl. NE
Suite A
Seattle, WA 98115

Service changes you. Service changes the world.