Fighting Poverty with Passion
I am very excited to be starting my next AmeriCorps VISTA year but I have to say, beginnings are always strange to me. Beginnings exist in dichotomy with endings, either those before or after. I am not new to being me and all work exists in a cloud of history and assumptions and hopes, so saying I am ‘starting’ something is kinda inaccurate. Its odd that we try to demarcate one life event from another. I find it especially difficult.
Physical changes might make it easier; moving to a new place, settling in. But being able to again take advantage of Tulane’s free housing puts me back into a home I had just left. Returning to CPS and weekly reports hardly feels like a fresh start. I am still biking a similar commute and the snacks I eat at work are pretty similar.
So has anything changed?
The Center for Restorative Approaches was a major volunteer commitment of mine last year and now being able to fully devote myself is extremely personally exciting. I had already become intimate with their work and office and personalities but this is still a kind of beginning. My ideas are becoming projects; my theories are to do lists. I believe that work should be the fulfillment of our attempt to be fully human and nothing is more human to me than helping young people.
CRA attempts and succeeds at convincing schools that there are alternatives to punishment while building foundations of more principled communities and institutions. Our cities and streets have become dangerous places in both word and deed. Champions of change will have to be skilled, strong and compassionate. Our people are hungry for strong but compassionate leaders and the Center for Restorative Approaches strikes that balance in leading schools toward justice.
As I said earlier, beginnings pair with endings. Having completed a VISTA year already, I can see the ending ahead. I can already feel the scope of my work as I begin it. This does not trouble me. It’s somehow comforting. I don’t have the world of poverty alleviation on me, I just have some volunteer coordination, some youth to help, some SOPs to write. Its doable, maybe less sleep than my body wants and definitely more cookies than it needs, but doable.
A curve does not have stops and starts. It keeps smoothly curving toward its endpoint. If the arch of the universe does truly bend towards justice, its only because just peoples have kept pushing, without stops and starts.