Listen. Ask questions. Open space.

Do you hear what I hear? Is anyone listening? Is this thing on? 

There is a lot of noise these days. And in the midst of all the upheaval, it’s difficult to hear ourselves. It’s why we need people who are willing to ask us the questions we didn’t even know we needed to answer, and stick around to hear what we have to say. To listen. And be someone who trusts us enough to do the same in return.

We have never needed each other more than in this moment.

This became strikingly clear to me at last month’s ComNet V Conference, on two separate occasions:

  • When U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gave the final keynote address and was asked, “What would you recommend us all do now in the midst of all this turmoil?” Her response was refreshing and intentional: “Listen to your spirit. What is it trying to say?” It was a much-needed signal to turn inward, to have enough quiet to hear the whispers of your thoughts and feelings.
  • During an impromptu, virtual meetup with attendees from Portland and across the country. One guest said we all felt pummeled by recent events, like the wildfires and social justice protests in close proximity. (We looked the part, too: tired, worn, weary.) Yet ComNet CEO Sean Gibbons, who was also in attendance, offered some perspective. He reminded us that our work matters. During a time when people are finding it difficult to trust each other, they trust us, the nonprofits and foundations. This position of trust makes it our responsibility to listen to people, to come to them in a time of acute need. To ask, “Are you o.k.?” And do it from a place of love.

So I’m putting this into practice. I’m carving out time in my work schedule to make these critical conversations possible, to listen to you, to ask the questions, and to open space for what you really need, right now.

Join me and other Portland social good workers on Wednesday, October 28, from 4-5 p.m. PT when we’ll be hosting the Voting Venting Forum. It’s a very special virtual meeting for anyone who wants to be listened to and listen to others. You should come! Sign up here.

If you can’t make the meet up, feel free to reach out and set up a time to chat. I mean it.

Take good care