Every winter, we hold day-long retreats for our advocate cohorts in Portland and Bloomington. Usually, these winter retreats focus on skill-building and knowledge refreshers, but this year, it felt like we needed some intentional time together as a community to process what the past couple of months have brought us as individuals and advocates.
Though Bloomington and Portland had different knowledge base refreshers in the morning, the second half of the day both centered on community building. We spent our time journaling and discussing what post-election and post-inauguration life has looked like for each of us and how it’s affected our work and capacity as social justice advocates. After processing, we journaled some more and talked about the support we wish we had, and what we each could offer to our communities.
The list of things that our communities offer to each other is profound and so much fun. It includes offerings like:
- My couch, my car, my house, my hugs
- Baked goodies and comfort food
- An appropriately dark and cynical dose of comic relief
- Ping pong partner
- Bad kids’ jokes and camp songs
- A listening ear over a cup of tea or a drink
- A pen pal
- A hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing, camping buddy
These gems only scratch the surface!
In addition to flexing our writing and discussion skills throughout the day, Portland advocates wrote inspiring notes to Bloomington advocates on coloring page postcards and colored them in with some pretty superb shading skills. Both retreats ended the day by eating some delicious cupcakes and naming one wish we each had for the Talkline.
At the end of the day, we saw that while each one of us is dealing with new realities in different ways, none of us are alone. In order to keep up our strength as we move forward, the community and support that we build and sustain for each other is vital. Our advocates are incredible and offer so much of themselves to each other and to our callers.
– Rachel Ronquillo Gray, Talkline Manager