Hey! It’s me Jenn. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while. I have been here, just haven’t been sharing as much as I would like to. So if you wondering what has been going on with DIA, I recommend you head to our Instagram for some of the artifacts. If you are good to just jump back into the journey with us, I invite you to carry-on with this blog post. If you are realizing actually that you no longer care about our journey, I welcome you to be on your way and I wish you the best on your own journey.
Take (self) care,
So, it has been over a year since I last wrote a blog. In December 2021, I wrote a blog called Take (self) care capturing that “I am ready to close down this year with some much-needed and deserved rest but I still have this tingly feeling in the back of my neck about what happens when I take a break.This is a tension that so many of us live with in the social innovation and nonprofit sector, it is a product of perfectionism, a sense of urgency, and the either/or mentality that are just friendly reminders that white supremacy lives in all of us.”
In November 2020, I became the solo lead of this organization and since then I have been doing what I thought I was supposed to do to grow this organization. Here’s the thing, the Department of Imaginary Affairs is not a “supposed to be” kind of organization. We are built to design alternative and equitable futures.
I was jumping in head first to a role that I had previously been told I wasn’t right for, I was doing it alone and I really worried about falling flat on my face – figuratively, not literally (though always possible with my clumsy tendencies).
Fast forward to February 2023 and I am carrying this exact same feeling, but with some new learnings, perspectives and a very amazing circle of trusted people.
When I became the solo lead of this organization, I moved like I thought I was “supposed to”. I chased more projects, more money, hiring more people and it was a lot. Here’s the thing, the Department of Imaginary Affairs is not a “supposed to” kind of organization. We are made to break “supposed to” and build artifacts of the future instead.
There is an immense amount of pressure, that I put on myself, to do everything better even if I have no idea how.
Here’s the thing, I am weird. I run a weird organization. When I say weird, I mean because we are not the norm and we don’t want to be. I have been working in the nonprofit sector for a long time and I have seen so many organizations struggle with short-term project funding, uncertainty about how the funding trends will change, constantly chasing funds and sacrificing their values to stay sustainable.
I have seen this and I didn’t want this for us. And yet, I put us there in the last few years and that is really hard to admit. This drove scarcity mindset. It happened quickly and if we aren’t paying attention, we probably would have stayed here.
The expectation for nonprofits to live in scarcity and precarious situations is harmful. Nonprofits have participated in the dangerous cycle that we can/should do less with more, create impact, and prove our value. The systemic layers of this situation are deep and moving forward we are going to only be investing our time and energy on dismantling systems of oppression and white supremacy.
That is so scary to say/write.
I am not sure how much of this nonprofit sector and the powers that fund and dictate our social contracts are ready to really start investigating the harm we have been perpetuating and to imagine equitable futures.
I used to think that the government didn’t have imagination. But really they have imagination, they are just using in ways that further their superiority and power over those they deem as less.
And they aren’t the only ones.
So now, we are back to me still not really knowing what I am doing, but now it feels aligned to my heart.
Like I said, we are weird and we want to be. We are imagining artifacts of the future, not just in our projects but in how we do our work too.
This means we are reimagining governance, partnerships, projects, accountability, impact, data and so much more.
And it is TOTALLY scary and exciting at the same time.
If you have made it all the way to the end of this blog, let me tell you that I am really appreciative. If no one has, that is ok too, just like they tell you to dance as if no one is looking. I am going to start writing like no one is reading.