New Year, Same Me
2017 was a rough year for a lot of people. While it’s easy for me to focus on the pains of those in America, the suffering of 2017 has been worldwide. It’s also tempting for me list some of the most offensive incidents of the past year but I suspect there will be numerous articles about that and I’m sure you’re well aware.
When I practiced as a therapist, specializing in crisis, the approach I used was solution-focused. Solution-focused therapy takes the successes that a person has-- things that work well-- and replicates them. There is an emphasis on concrete and concise goals. Instead of focusing on what isn’t working well and trying to make that better, one figures out what is already working well and adapts that for other situations. I intend to do the same for 2018.
In 2017, people from a variety of intersections, mostly women, got together to take a stand against oppression in one of the largest international marches in history. January 21, 2017 sparked actions around the world and particularly across America to continue to push back against a culture that appeared to be slipping back instead of progressing forward. It also focused people on the systems that had always been oppressive and need to be dismantled. People gathered in their communities to tackle issues on a local level and had incredible success. Mass protests continued to push back against bigoted policies. New nonprofits sprang up to address issues that had been too long neglected. People donated and volunteered in unprecedented numbers to support organizations like the ACLU who were stepping up to defend those who were being targeted. Students staged walkouts to express their disgust. More women than we’ve ever seen expressed interest in running for office. Victims of sexual assault and harassment took a public stand against some of the most powerful men in America. Despite voter suppression efforts, black people (again, largely women) used the polls to protect their communities.
This list is a small sample of the incredible work that occurred this past year. Despite the fear and anger that so many people have been living with since November 8, 2016, action won out over despair.
I started 2017 planning the Women’s March in London. On inauguration day, January 20, 2017, I was on Tower Bridge at dawn hanging a banner that read “Build Bridges, Not Walls” along with hundreds of other people down the Thames and across the world to spread positivity on a day that was so hard for so many. On January 21, 2017 we marched. A week later when the first Muslim ban came out we demonstrated in front of Downing Street. I attended VERVE'S fundraiser to provide feminine products for women refugees. I spoke at Oxford and the University Women’s Club in London. I spent a month in Dunkirk, France working with refugees. Then I came back to America where I helped organize Sanctuary Suppers to support immigrants and change the nature of conversations about immigrants. I started to network with the immigrant organizations working in Philadelphia. I attended the Women’s Convention in Detroit, the first of its kind in 40 years. I attended and then hosted Prosecco Think Tanks that provide a space for women to come together and process, brainstorm, and learn.
I don’t want a new me in 2018. I want to continue to be exactly who I am. I want more planning, more partnering, more action. I want to take my successes in 2017 and multiply them in 2018. I want more of the greatness that I am. And I want this for every woman I know, too. In 2017 I made some of the most important relationships of my lifetime. I want each of these women to be more in my life this coming year. I want to be more of a support to them. I want more of the greatness that they are.
In 2018 we are going to take the efforts, the progress, the greatness of 2017 and multiply it.
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist