When I look back on my upbringing amid a small bible belt town in southwestern B.C., it's become more and more of a jumbled vignette; feelings of alienation and bitterness, and that of sorrow. Sorrow because I gave up.
As soon as I could, I ran off into the sunset of the city, in a black and white haze of righteous politics. Perhaps like all eager and idealistic young agitators, I imagined it so simply.
1. Meet other activists. 2. Develop a perfect little radical community. 3. Make everything better.
And possibly in a similar vein to many people reading this, I was not immune to the sneaky little dark spots known as burn-out and disillusionment.
You spend spend time organizing, building, trying to facilitate radical change and dismantling the global systems of oppression, and yet somehow aren't quite prepared for the baggage that comes with that. Or at least the overwhelming sacrifice and courage that is required to build that community -- the community which will endure as the most essential component of creative and constructive activism.
And so here's when my upbringing comes in. Though (not uniquely) frustrated by a sea of conservative politics and problematic attitudes, I recognize now I didn't make much effort to engage and build where I was. Instead I took hold of the privilege, that perhaps enabled me to seek out alternative political views, and got the hell out. Never looking back.
Of course, I don't know that I would have had the skills or even bravery, required to talk decolonization and intersectionality, in institutions where I had never heard the words "consent" or "sexuality" uttered even once, but I wish I had tried. Tried just long enough, before I was finally able to move on.
So as I sit here now, inspired by the notions of radical community-building and self as well as collective reflection on privilege and safe spaces, I want to make sure I don't give in to the nihilism and despair that once held me back.
Join me on this amateur journey as I seek to reflect on taking back public space, building community and community spaces, and the fight to end burnout across activist Canada. Because I firmly believe, as complicated and messy as everything is, and though we may well continue to make mistakes we will have to learn from, without a solid foundation of social reinforcement, we can't create the systemic change that is so desperately needed.
Have a cool community space/project you'd like profiled? Catch me at [email protected] or ping me at @TaniaEhret.
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