During the gathering, I was struck by the integrity and servant leadership of the participants: A Latina leader stepping out of the training to deal with legal issues related to an immigrant community she serves; a white Christian staffer speaking about the difficulties navigating conflicts between religiously diverse communities in her city; an African American pastor sharing his experiences of addressing gang violence through bodily intervention.
Coming from different backgrounds, these 32 local leaders enjoyed the opportunity to learn about each other’s identities, beliefs, and worldviews and what inspired them to bridge deep differences. They embraced the practices around listening and conflict navigation presented in the sessions, noting how much we need skill-building in these areas and how counter-cultural applying those skills can often be. I was also delighted to see that the intensive conversations that unfolded in the Team Up sessions mirrored the simultaneous conversations in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on the limits and possibilities of bridging divides in a time where systemic change is deeply needed.
Although these conversations can often feel contentious, they give people a chance to grapple with the complicated and diverging approaches to building a better, more connected nation, without dismissing or turning their backs on each other.
While the animating idea behind Team Up is simple – shared service can bridge divides – the substance of the work is complex, and a challenge that constantly evolves depending on the context. But what is important about the opportunity to wrestle with these ideas is exactly what compels so many about Team Up: we chose to do this work together, in community.
In my experience, the best bridge-building spaces provide clarity of purpose, an inspiring and hopeful vision, and concrete tools that get us there. These same bridge-building spaces also create opportunities for wrestling with the multiplicity of solutions and for trusting and empowering leaders to apply transformative ideas within their context.
I’m honored to be a part of Team Up. We are doing something unprecedented, with our eyes on the horizon, and we’re doing it in community – one we hope will grow, and include you. If you want to learn more about Team Up and how we can collaborate, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to hear from you.