From the Director – October 2018

By Janet Byrd

We’re just a few days out from an election that will set a path for Oregon. As I write this, I’m hoping that the Oregon I love will prevail, and that we will vote to embrace our neighbors (NO on 105!) and to ensure that we all have the foundation for success that a safe, decent, stable, and affordable home provides (YES on 102 and 26-199!).

We’re also just a little over a week past the RE:Conference, where we had a chance to come together with many of you to dive deep into the work we do together. I was delighted to be able to learn from Walidah Imarisha in both the practicum session and the plenary. We had asked Walidah to talk in the practicum about transformational leadership, what it takes, how to identify it, how to support it.

I find myself reflecting this past week on part of her practicum discussion, in which she used super heroes to exemplify types of leadership. She started with a discussion of Batman – the extremely rich, white man who decides for himself what is wrong and right, and takes steps to impose his views on his community. She ended with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who after her leadership style is challenged, decides to share leadership among the broad base of potential slayers.

I’m challenging myself to be more like Buffy.

Walidah also spoke about the need to be able to imagine a different future. She talked about the idea that policy advocates need to embrace visionary fiction in order to help us imagine a world that is not yet here, but that could be. For those of us who are trained to evaluate what’s possible in a legislative context as we develop policy proposals, this one is hard. It will get easier if we can expand our leadership base, which can help us all challenge our assumptions, push back against false limitations, and imagine a different and improved reality.

If you haven’t yet, please vote. Do what you can to get those around you to vote. And let’s spend November 7th and 2019 imagining and working toward a new reality.