Reflections from the Strong Families Summit

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Strong Families Summit, hosted by Forward Together, a group I’ve worked with as a consultant over the last year or so.

My role with their work has been strategy and media outreach for their mama’s day campaigns. I’ve written about those two efforts here and here, but this last one was a particularly fulfilling success, the e-card tool we created was used almost 5000 times.

The summit was my first chance to be in person with their coalition partners, a vast group of organizations who have signed on to be part of the Strong Families initiative.

What I like about their work is the attempt to build a big tent that can hold all of the issues that impact the health and well-being of families. While centered on a reproductive justice frame, the work goes even broader than that, encompassing many issues that I feel are central to my political vision. Everything from birth activism to LGBT families to environmental concerns to racial justice. Reproductive justice can hold all of this as well, but something about using language that seems even bigger is powerful to me. We need a big tent–we need a broad vision for how we’re going to achieve our goals.

The organization also relies on a practice called Forward Stance, which in very simple terms is a mind/body practice that grounds their work as organizers and advocates. The video below explains the practice in more detail.

In my work as a doula, and in our work as support people, I’ve been thinking a lot about the integration of mind and body. I know for me, as a writer, it can be a struggle to leave the realm of thinking and be more connected to the realm of feeling. But I also know that in my work as a doula, it’s not often that thinking really guides my work. It’s often something much less mental, and more intuitive. It’s also often more about presence and physically being there with someone than it is about intellect and thinking. I’m excited by the potential to bring the physical and spiritual into our work in social justice, to bring us closer to ourselves and each other. Last week was my first time trying the practice.

For more about Forward Together and the Strong Families Initiative, go here.

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