Top 5 Things I’m Looking Foward to Learning at the Summit: A Fellow’s Perspective

5) How to “raise money with chutzpah”
I pride myself on approaching most aspects of life with a good deal of chutzpah, but my experiences with fundraising and development to date have usually left me feeling frustrated and disillusioned.  I have already learned a great deal about development-as-organizing through the JOIN fellowship, but I haven’t yet shed all of my fears or misgivings.  I am so excited to attend Marjorie Fine’s workshop and glean as many pieces of wisdom and optimism as I can!

4) Just how funny an organizer’s “blooper reel” can be 
With apologies to the iconic Emma Goldman, I do believe that if I can’t laugh, then it’s *definitely* not my revolution.  As organizers we are encouraged to learn from our mistakes, but how often do we make time and space to celebrate the inevitable moments of absurdity?  Ilana Lerman and Yavilah McCoy’s Sunday evening extravaganza of “storytelling, skits and comedy” promises to have us laughing at our “flaws and fiascoes.”  I, for one, can’t wait.

3) How different folks understand the relationship between their Jewish identities and commitment to justice work 
Participating in the JOIN for Justice fellowship has offered me my first opportunity to explore the connections between my identity as a Jew and my passion for challenging injustice.  I have loved learning the myriad ways in which the JOIN fellows, trainers, mentors and staff have contemplated and honored these connections in their own lives, and I hope to hear many more stories, perspectives and ideas that enrich my own spiritual and professional journeys.

2) How to “sustain justice activism for the long haul” 
Organizing, as a discipline, has a notoriously high rate of attrition and burnout.  I am deeply inspired by the passion and dedication my colleagues bring to their work, but I worry for the toll this toil takes on our individual and collective ability to sustain social change work.  The workshop being offered by Heather Booth, Vivian Rothstein, and Lisa Gallatin promises to feature the “motivations, strategies and advice” that “seasoned organizers” have for the “younger generation.”  O wise sages, I am ready to receive your counsel…

1) All about you! 
That’s right, you!  Because one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my fellowship year thus far is: relationship-building truly makes the world go ’round.  When we share our stories with one another, we chip away at whatever artificial boundaries the world as it is has imposed on us, and we create the space necessary to forge deep bonds of hope, love, and commitment to action.  So, whoever you are, if you’ll be at the Summit, track me down and tell me your story.  I’ll share mine in return, and we’ll be on our way to a better world.

Anna Lifson is a proud native of Madison, Wisconsin. She has also lived in the Twin Cities of Minnesota (where she graduated from Macalester College in 2006), Oaxaca/Chiapas, Mexico, and Washington, DC; most recently, she has called the Boston area home since 2009. Anna is a Jewish Organizing Fellow this year, and she works with Boston Mobilization’s Sub/Urban Justice program to engage local teens on issues of privilege, oppression and action for social justice.

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