Justice-seekers gather over food

It’s that time of year when the sun is (finally) shinning in full force and our thoughts turn quickly to the outdoors, adventures away from work, and time with family. Perhaps we’re sitting in the cool shade of giant Douglas fir trees or maybe enjoying a neighborhood gathering around grilled goodies and friends. Perhaps we’re gearing up for outdoor concerts or trips to the coast.

But, summer’s warmth provides an important opportunity to strategically place our call for justice within the many celebrations and gatherings taking place.

In many ways, our lack of energy for any work, our desire for a pause, is merited. The people I get to work with at MRG — the activists and philanthropists; the policymakers and policy-implementers; the teachers, students, and administrators – are talented and hardworking people. But I do not believe that we have the luxury to ‘take a break’ from working to achieve justice for all.

Summer adventures and summer gatherings are great places to strengthen the resolve of our families and friends. They provide opportunities to have starter conversations with the young people in our lives and to find new allies in our collective work to put justice front and center throughout the year.

There are many ways we can keep the momentum up, even during the lazy days of summer.

When we consider the bounty in our local grocery stores, the vast selection of ripe oranges, succulent berries, juicy peaches, and an array of vegetables, are we conscious of those whose labor brings the crops to yield? We’re fortunate to have a vibrant local food scene here in the Pacific Northwest – let’s engage our friends in conversation about the family and migrant farmers who make this bounty of summer possible.

As we take vacations to destinations near and far, are we mindful of the workers behind the scenes in housekeeping, maintenance, and food services? Do we consider those who may not have days off, living wages, or basic health benefits? We can select our vacation venues – restaurants, resorts, and popular destinations – based on their support of workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

As we join our families for fun and relaxation, are we conscious of those who aren’t able to spend time with their families? Of immigration and incarceration policies that separate children and parents and hate-fueled violence that ends the lives of young black men much too soon – all justified through rhetoric of ‘national security’ and ‘community safety.’ Whether it’s Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, a family reunion, or just grilling in the backyard, summer gatherings are the perfect time to talk to our loved ones about the importance of electing leaders who will ensure all families can live full and joyful lives.

After fifty years in this work, I am convinced that achieving justice knows no season.

Fall is popular for campaigns and get out the vote work and spring is often packed with legislative policy efforts. But, as we move through this glorious summer, I don’t believe we can take a vacation from moving our vision of a just and joyful world forward. Justice is certainly within reach, and the sunshine that brings us together is a great time to build momentum and win the hearts and minds of those closest to us.

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