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Each time we stand up for an ideal, or act to improve the lot of others, or strike out against injustice, we send forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
—Robert F. Kennedy
Spring reawakens the world, as light slowly increases toward summer’s intensity. As a season of renewal and possibility, there is a space made for new growth; there is an opportunity to reclaim our commitments.
For many of us, our multi-layered personal and professional lives rarely afford a window of time and space for reflection—a chance to stop producing, to look back on what we have done, and to gather our strength and creativity for the journey ahead.
But while spring is a time of resurgence, it can also serve as a moment when we pause in our work before starting new projects and moving in new directions. As Pablo Neruda wrote: “Perhaps the earth can teach us, as when everything seems dead in winter and later proves to be alive.”
We can—and we must—take time to assess where we are and what is alive in us before we begin anew.
The work of sustainability and social change is an ancient practice, an evolutionary calling to care for our community, to support others when they may not be able to do so themselves, to steward our place on the earth.
Resurgence is occurring in this time-honored inclination to cultivate positive change. We are in an era where a re-examination of what it means to affect lasting, meaningful transformation in our workplaces and communities can deepen our impact. We are crafting a more resilient and just culture through the ways we connect and collaborate, and by coming to terms with the nature of the work that must be done. We are reshaping our organizations and our communities by thinking and acting in innovative ways. And we are questioning existing norms, attitudes, and structures that may no longer be working to address the healthy development of our communities.
Signs of this resurgence are found in the emergence of new programs and initiatives for shifting our approach to action, such as the Movement Strategy Center’s recent publication “Out of the Spiritual Closet”, and in how we think about leadership, such as RDI’s Ecology of Leadership Program. In Paul Hawken’s work Blessed Unrest, he vividly illustrates how millions of people and organizations around the world engaged in positive, effective community and policy advocacy are creating a new culture of change.
It can even be found in corporations and government entities, through changes in measuring business practices and in new interagency partnerships for sustainable communities. Large institutions are increasingly confronting questions about what it means to embrace ideas of sustainability and social change, from responding to shareholder and customer experiences, to engaging people affected by policy decisions.
Resurgence is multifaceted: it’s an ecological process, a political and cultural phenomenon, and a personal imperative. We have an opportunity to see how we initially became involved in our personal and professional journeys, remembering that these first desires and conditions are critical for maintaining our focus. Even the deviations from our purpose can serve a role, reminding us what is most essential in our work.
Resurgence is a vital practice, reminding us what inspires us to do our work, and making our efforts to affect change more meaningful than ever.