Collin turned 8! Mychi had the idea of sending ourselves a video message in 10 years when he turns 18. It was a great idea and he had a lot to say to himself! 

Selfie of me, Collin and Mychi in the woods somewhere.

Most of us don’t think in decades let alone years but it is a good human and movement practice. This is not a new idea either. The right wing has done this and has done it well. Social movements and revolutions have transformed societies through bold visions and multi-decade planning.

To me, a question I often ask is: How do we embody this practice? 

An Embodied Practice

For me, it first started when I met Mychi in 2005. It was not just finding love and our deep connection, it was also the way that I was transforming and become a better version of myself. I learned to love, share and struggle in all kinds of new ways. I didn’t realize this until much later that this laid the foundation for my capacity to grow, love and commit to anything long term. 

At the same time, I started at CPA as a new organizer. I wanted to lay roots in the community where my family got their start. I wanted to learn how to organize in my native tongue and build across poor and working class communities. CPA eventually become my portal, my red door, to a much larger and transformative vision. 

At first, I didn’t really know what it would take but I quickly realized that I had A LOT to learn. I was getting schooled every day practically by youth to women workers to leftists and OGs.

At some point, I decided to commit 15 years to this political project. It gave myself some space to build a squad, test and experiment, and to be nimble in the every changing time, place, and conditions. 

Most importantly, it gave me time to hone my craft. I learned to organize and build toward a vision. I also learned how to make mistakes, navigate complex contradictions, struggle and build relationships. I learned to be a steward of leadership (not just a “leader”). 

When we had Collin, the stakes only became higher and more personal. Not only did I think in decades, I really thought more about the kind of world I wanted to leave behind. In 10 or 30 years, can I say that I did everything in my power to build a better world? This is what hangs on most of my decisions these days. What will life be like when Collin is my age? What will his tween and teenage years be like? 

Thinking in decades is now to be part of my life long practice. From raising a kick ass kiddo and building the movement to confronting neo-fascism and authoritarianism, I can now chart out my 2050 work and know I’m not alone.

Grace Lee Boggs always reminded us that the word “evolution” is in revolution. Through the decades, I’ve learned to evolve and embed this into my every day practice. It a an act of humility and self compassion AND it is grounded in what it actually takes to build power, build anything and actually win some real things that gets us closer to our collective liberation.

I’m truly grateful for all the intergenerational conversations through the decades as I’m now entering the role of a “yelder.” We sit on their shoulders of so many revolutionaries, OGs and elders in the US and across the globe. I’m thankful not just for their wisdom, their lessons but to also see them embody it. It is truly an artform, a unique craft to flank and follow our lead yet still learning, stewarding and guiding us along the way. 

At the end of the day, all this is deeply personal, transformational and takes incredible love and rigor.

NOTE: To be clear, not everyone needs to have a kid. This is what has helped me embody this practice. BUT we all need to have a purpose, a squad to practice with, and some parts of the path to get there. 

What this does NOT mean. 

Thinking in decades doesn’t just mean just “thinking”. It is the opposite. In our movement we tend to get stuck on over thinking/processing. The way we evolve, learn and build a movement is by doing things that will actually change the lives of everyday people AND reflecting on our work.

It also doesn’t mean to blindly commit to things for a long ass time. That is a dangerous trend in the movement. There are serious problems with dead end ideas (and tbh relationships). 

It also does NOT mean that plans are static. We need to be nimble as conditions are always shifting. We also need to be rigorous in our assessments of the changing conditions. If anything, thinking in decades give us more space to think creatively, proactively and expansively. 

Truth be told, it is not easy to imagine and dream in decades and some of us may not have decades. In the current toxic political and economic climate, how can we be more choiceful with what we do have? How can counter the cynicism and pessimism that the system wants us to have? 

Future Stories

To close out, since Mychi was away this week, I decided to take Collin with me to the Highlander Homecoming last weekend. It was deeply soulful and the revival I needed. It was SO powerful to hear the intergenerational stories on The Hill told by multiple generations and to soak in the inspiration of future generations. It’s the movement magic I haven’t felt in a long time.

At the Children’s Camp for Justice, the children got to share their future stories. Collin worked on a dreamscape collage and did a presentation on having better education and schools for all children. It was beautiful! He has also been very proud to tell people (adults) that the Highlander believes that adults can learn from children too. 😀 There is a lot more to share. Big PROPS and LOVE to the highlander team! 

I can’t say what his and our future will be like in 10 or 20 years but I will keep reminding myself every day what is at stake and what holds me to my purpose and practice. 

Collin presenting about his future story. He is holding up a collage he made of a school in the future.

Selfie of me and Collin on day trip in Knoxville. We were at the Ijam Nature Center.