In the Direction of Courage

November 10, 2016 //

Eyes Wide Shudder

It is with an anguished heart and clear eyes that I write this.

The difference in our historical context between Tuesday morning and today is stark and sobering.

The real cost of this election outcome will fall disproportionately on the undocumented immigrants, muslims, blacks, women, queer, and poor people scapegoated in this campaign whose human rights are imperiled with the onset of this administration.

Ironically, I set out to write about courage as I also feel immense and palpable fear.  I fear for my loved ones, and for so many millions even more subject to violence, deportation, incarceration.  I fear for the natural world. I’ve heard that fear can co-exist with courage, and that might be the case for me, for awhile.

What does the outcome of this election mean for TWI?

Spend Out in the Shadow of A Trump Administration

Given our plan to spend out by 2022, this means that the bulk of the rest of TWI’s life as an institution will unfold in this upcoming four year term.  While the intention to model and spread the values and practice of trust based investing will likely remain steadfast, we imagine that our priorities will also include being powerful advocates for those most vulnerable under an autocratic regime.

We intend to listen deeply to our partners.  The very same grantee partners who directed us toward these aspirations may have different directions at this point, and as we move into our final chapter we will, as ever, walk with and heed them.

Courageous Reflection 

We like to think that our decision to spend out was a brave one – that instead of constricting our giving when the endowment took a hit in a financial crisis caused by lending fraud, we increased our giving intentionally towards sunsetting.  At the time, it felt like taking a stand against the inequities that brought that financial crash to bear.

I believe this is another historical moment where courage is called for.  How can we practice our values in the critical decisions of how and where we invest our endowment, and who and what we support in our final cycles of grantmaking?  We were already reflecting on some of these questions, and it is imperative now that we take this changed landscape into account.

Trust Based Investing in A Time of Distrust

We are living in and into a time where institutions are not trusted, politicians are not trusted, where there is little trust in the democratic process, and distrust between many divided groups.  How can we legitimately promote trust in a time like this one? I continue to think that, especially as a foundation, the onus is on us to demonstrate our trustworthiness.

We also trust that our partners will provide critical leadership in the years ahead.  The Beat Within and Voice of Witness will continue to ensure that we hear from vulnerable and targeted groups.  IDEX will bring the expertise of powerful social, political and economic popular movements in the global south to apply in our rapidly changing context.  Forward Together has signed onto a collective response from 100 women of color leaders in the U.S.

TWI will endeavor to be a trustworthy partner, partnering in spirit of service and listening for where we can be additive not extractive as a funder.

Community, Connection, Creativity

This moment also underscores for us an existing intention to offer space for convening, community and connection.  No meeting or conversation in the last couple of days has gotten underway without substantial time for sense making, support, and solidarity.

Our space, as always, is open to any in our network to meet and gather.  We will host more regular, informal salons in the coming year, and we will say yes to invitations towards community, connection, and creativity.

And, as always, it is community that we will turn to, strengthen, and nurture.