A Letter to Our Community

Jul 8, 2016 | Melissa Aase, Executive Director

We cannot be silent or isolated in the midst of the horrific events in our world, country and our own communities in the last few weeks. While it is hard to find the exact "right" thing to say, I think it is better to take risks with vulnerability, honesty and openness, and to hear each other with compassion. There is so much common ground to build upon.

Violence, hatred, racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia --- structural, societal, economic, cultural and personal --- are literally killing our communities and creating a depth of fear that threatens to tear us apart. Poverty... access to guns... complicity and disconnectedness...  hopelessness.

We at University Settlement work together every day to bring people together in community; to repair the humanly-created personal and communal damage of racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and hatred; and to lift up, celebrate and GROW the good and wonderful things that are in all of us and all our communities. We also work together to identify the causes of inequity and hatred, and fight to change those things. The work is hard. The work is crushingly beautiful. The work WORKS.

While we are doing this work, I encourage us to talk to each other; to do our homework, to listen and examine our own biases, privileges and misconceptions; to create safe(r) spaces for each other and those in our communities to talk; to practice self-care, fill our cups up; to stand with one another in solidarity; to share power and resources and review structures and practices internally and externally that could be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. I am grateful to have such an incredible team of colleagues, collaborators and co-conspirators to do this with.

This is imperfect and in progress, as am I. As are all of us. But it is better to risk and much, much better to be in it --- this one precious life we have --- together.

Melissa Aase
Executive Director 


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