In our impact paper, we discuss the “psychology of deprivation” among feminist activists who, while doing largely unpaid work, slowly evolve into exhaustion and eventual burnout. We believe this is a huge part of what’s been holding the movement back from creating the real policy and structural change it needs. A feminist retreat for self care is one attempt to reject an unhealthy model we’ve internalized: that it’s necessary to sacrifice our well-being in order to make change.
We believe that by ritualizing togetherness and creating time for reflection, healing, and community building, our stamina for the movement will be greatly increased, and we’ll simply be healthier, more wholehearted activists. We’ve partnered with Omega Institute, a center with exactly this kind of holistic leadership development, to help online feminists disconnect from the struggle of online (and offline) organizing, in order to reconnect with renewed purpose, clarity and integrity for their work.
The #femfuture Retreat was a two-day convening hosted by the Omega Women’s Leadership Center that served as both a quiet retreat for rest and self-care, and a space for reflection, creative engagement, storytelling and leadership growth.
The retreat, held from October 20 – 22, 2013, was provided for 21 individuals, providing a safe space for sharing and listening, and opportunities to connect and heal with other individuals working in online justice activism and media-making, including a day-long workshop facilitated by Adrienne Maree Brown. Here are some highlights (or see the entire set):
Who was the retreat for?
This retreat was for those working in both offline and online communities within the feminist movement(s). We had an incredible group of individuals from different pockets of the country with a range of vocations, identities and life experiences representing at the retreat. In short, it was a pretty awesome crew.
What was the selection process?
A selection committee of experts in social justice and social work chose the 21 individuals whom they believed would best benefit from the retreat. They are:
Joanne Smith, Founder & Executive Director, Girls for Gender Equity (Follow and Like them!)
Selena Sermeno, Ambassadorial Chair, Bartos Institute, United World College
Nicole Clark, Social Worker and Reproductive Justice Activist
The selection process wasn’t about who’s the most qualified, but about who would benefit the most from this experience. In addition to keeping diversity of perspective, background, and experience in mind, committee members reviewed each applicant’s answers to the application questions when making their decision. Questions they said they asked themselves when reviewing applications were:
How did the retreat go?
We’re working on building a more official space to share the group’s learnings with the public, but in the meantime, you can learn more about some of the attendees’ experiences in various pieces and blog posts that were written.
Can I apply for next year?
Everyone deserves self care and opportunities to rejuvenate and restore, and our hope is that this is the beginning of a longer journey to building a culture of care within feminism. We’re working on developing new tools and resources on self care (like our self care community Tumblr) that everyone can have access to, and creating future opportunities to convene more self care retreats, so we can make this gathering available to more community members. Stay tuned!
If you’re interested in collaborating on this initiative, please contact us.
Learn more about our self care & leadership retreat.