Dear Community Partner,
For over a decade RYSE has been relentless in our pursuit of justice and radical love for young people in our community. We have centered our work on being responsive to the explicit needs of youth and centering healing practices for our members, their families and the larger community. We’ve also worked deliberately to create a professional environment that models our commitment to healing. And, the painful, vulnerable realization is that what we put into place in order to cope and steward the trauma we hold and triage everyday as an organization is not always enough.
The cumulative toll of persistent, atmospheric trauma – direct, vicarious, and system-induced- has been compounded by the impact of a racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic government that creates a persistent cycle of organizational anxiety and hyper-vigilance. The impact is that a staff that loves this work is moved to a point of just “getting through” or “getting by.” Each day we are bracing ourselves for the next community incident, the next ICE raid, the next shooting, the next hate crime, the next news story that depicts us and our members as problems and threats. Each day that we aren’t addressing this toll we’re becoming more rigid, getting physically and emotionally sick, and leaning into scarcity when what we need is to stay responsive, patient, compassionate. and holding abundance and love at our core.
What is true for us is that we’ve been conditioned as people, people of color, queer people, that courage, bravery, and leadership are demonstrated by holding in our emotions, our feelings, our vulnerability and our humanity. For those of us that are in movement work, the work of liberation, we are even further conditioned to believe that truly “being down for the cause” means being willing to sacrifice emotionally, mentally and physically. We’ve been taught that strength is in keeping it all together, rather than allowing things to fall apart.
We are here in the deepest service to young people, and that means we must show up with our full authentic selves. Our young people deserve that. Our young people see and feel our love, and also understand the toll on us individuals and on the RYSE system. Taking a day off or giving ourselves a day for self-care is not enough, because it is not just about one person or one program, RYSE has always been about our collective care and liberation.
We’re on the brink of building, literally, young people’s vision of a system that centers their humanity and healing. We have spent decades dreaming up RYSE Commons. We need to be fully present to ensure that the world we’re building is fortified, rooted, and loving for the next generations.
Starting August 19th through August 23rd, RYSE is enacting a week of restoration for staff to rest, reflect, grieve, and recharge mind, body, and spirit. What this means in practice is that the organization will be closed to members and the larger community. We will not be responding to emails or calls until we return on August 26th. If there is an emergency you can reach out to either our Executive Director, Kimberly Aceves-Iniguez at 510-206-5552 or our Associate Director, Kanwarpal Dhaliwal, 510-579-1922.
The work of dreaming up what doesn’t exist, is deep, heart-centered work that requires persistence. This is a week to reimagine a new way of existing that allows us to be whole, healed and in deeper service to ourselves, our community and our collective liberation.
We know that there are others out there in similar struggles. Just know we see you, we need you, and you are not alone.
The RYSE Family