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November 17, 2021

How can nonprofits apply the principles of Emergent Strategy to their communications?

Priscilla Hung

Never a failure, always a lesson. Trust the people. Move at the speed of trust. These are just a few principles of Emergent Strategy by adrienne mareee brown. Hannah Thomas, director of learning and innovation, and Priscilla Hung, co-director of Move to End Violence, discuss being adaptive, thinking with abundance, and centering your purpose.


Farra Trompeter: Hi, this is Farra Trompeter, co-director of Big Duck. I am excited to introduce our 100th episode of the Smart Communications Podcast. I want to thank everyone out there for listening and sharing your feedback over the years. We love hearing what episodes resonate, ideas you have for guests, and more. If you ever want to let us know your thoughts, please drop us a line at [email protected]. I also want to give a special shout-out and note of appreciation to Marcus, our producer, and Jen, our marketing manager, who makes sure every podcast episode sounds as great as they do. So I would love to invite you to grab a cup of your favorite beverage and get ready to listen to a thought-provoking conversation between Hannah and Priscilla all about adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. They’re going to discuss the ideas of being adaptive, thinking with abundance, centering your purpose, and of course, imagining a future that is better than today. So thanks again for listening and enjoy.

Hannah Thomas: I’m Hannah Thomas, director of learning and innovation at Big Duck. I’m super excited for my first ever podcast hosting gig to be joined this morning by Priscilla Hung to talk about Emergent Strategy and how nonprofits are bringing it and can bring it to life. Priscilla (she/her) has spent over 20 years dedicated to social justice movement building, nonprofit management and capacity building, and fundraising and philanthropy. She is co-director of Move to End Violence, an $80 million capacity-building initiative of the NoVo Foundation, and housed at The Raben Group. More about Move to End Violence in just a minute. Priscilla has also been a program director at Community Partners in Los Angeles, where she provided capacity building, peer learning, and knowledge sharing. And before that, she was executive director of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT), where she works with community-based organizations around the country to provide training, resources, and movement-building opportunities related to fundraising.

Hannah Thomas: Also, Priscilla is on the advisory council for the Hate Is A Virus Community Action Fund, helping give away $1 million for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. There are many more extremely cool things Priscilla has done and been a part of. Priscilla, welcome. I’m so excited to spend some time chatting with you today.

Priscilla Hung: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Hannah Thomas: Before we dig in, Priscilla and I discussed setting some context for our listeners. We’re going to be talking about some ideas that come from adrienne maree brown Emergent Strategy. I do love the description of the book on the AK Press website, so I wanted to share verbatim for those who are unfamiliar with this truly epic book. So “inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help, designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change. This book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolute materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction. A visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.” I’ve found it extremely valuable in my role as a consultant to nonprofits. And I know Priscilla has a lot of rich experiences bringing Emergent Strategy into her work. So I’d love to turn it over to you Priscilla, just to get us started by talking about Move to End Violence, what it’s about?

Priscilla Hung: Sure. Thank you, Hannah. The NoVo Foundation in the 2000s wanted to fund ending gender-based violence in the United States. And in order to figure out how to do that well, they talked with tons of people through interviews and focus groups and pulling an advisory committee together. And what they learned was that one, that leaders of ending gender-based violence organizations were completely burned out. Two, that the movement had really shifted away from its radical roots and that it needed to pivot back to doing social change work in addition to providing services. And then three, the movement was extremely siloed where there were mainstream kind of areas of the movement that were getting much more visibility and funding, and that those who are working on the margins were not connecting with each other. And so what that meant is it created schisms within the movement where for example, a lot of mainstream movements had really shifted to criminal justice as the solution to ending violence and that if law enforcement and the courts just provided harsher penalties, that somehow violence would be solved. Versus what we really know is that investing more in the criminal justice system actually creates more violence, especially for our communities of color and LGBTQ communities. And so these areas of the movement, not talking to each other allows for those schisms to be created.

Priscilla Hung: And so taking all of that valuable information, the program was designed as a cohort model, where we would bring together a cohort over the course of two years. And within that time they would convene together, they would get resources, they’d work on leadership development and organizational development. And within that, we would focus on self-care, community care, and healing justice. We would talk about social change movement-building, transnational solidarity, and cultural change strategies, and that we would help mend some of these tensions within movements in order to be able to create solutions that actually work for everyone. And so this is the design of the program, and I’m really excited to be co-director of it along with Monica Dennis and a really amazing team of people.

Hannah Thomas: Awesome. You mentioned that you use a sort of cohort model, and I know that these convenings are really essential to the cohort model success. And I also know that you’ve made some big pivots in how they come to life. One of those being the sort of move to virtual that we’ve all been experiencing, but I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about how adrienne maree brown and Emergent Strategy really come into play for Move to End Violence’s cohort and convening spaces.

Priscilla Hung: I will say that adrienne maree brown has written a lot of brilliant things, but Emergent Strategy, in particular, has definitely been my go-to handbook during this time of the pandemic. It reminds me that even though I’ve never lived through this particular confluence of experiences, we actually know what to do. And a lot of that is based on the teachings and learnings that adrienne lifts up. So I will say that one of the ways it is that we’ve been able to pivot during this time, during a pandemic, and the move to virtual, is actually because we have been practicing adaptation for a long time, even before the pandemic happened. And that really set us up well, to be able to do it now. And one of the insights that I really got from Emergent Strategy is that adaptation is not just changing because your conditions change. And you’re trying to keep up. It actually requires you to get really clear about like, what is our purpose? What are we doing? What is most needed in this time? What is it that we are most able and equipped to provide? And really holding onto that as you then adapt the other pieces to work with the change that’s happening. And so really holding on to that purpose.

Priscilla Hung: And so we’ve been able to do that through the lifecycle of MEV, where we feel really clear about the work it is that we’re doing, but how we do it actually will keep changing. And so we’re a program that really leans into change, and evolving, and iteration, and really learning from cycle to cycle. And so the way that it looks now is completely different from how it looked when we started because we’ve been in that practice. And I will say that the practice hasn’t been easy, right? It’s still a lot of work. It’s still really hard. There is a lot of reflection and negotiation and disagreement and things that we really have to work through in order to be constantly iterating. But having had that history, I think allowed us to show up better when the pandemic started and that we realized, oh, no, we really do have to shift what we’re doing while we stay really clear about the purpose of our time together and the purpose of pulling the cohort together.

Priscilla Hung: In addition to that particular shift, another thing that really happened in the pandemic, which we know is being experienced around the world, is the escalation of loss and grief in this time. You know, the communities that we work with are no strangers to loss and grief, but it’s been really amplified during this time. And so it wasn’t just, you know, how do we change the work to be virtual, but it was also how do we give people space? How do we let them step away? How do we pause or slow down the work when we need? How do we really hold all of the emotions and the grieving? Both for actual people, it is that we’ve lost, but also for physical touch? For time with people it is that we care about? How do we manage the fears that have come with that? And then also just within the program, you know, our own feelings of loss around what we had hoped this cycle would look like and giving ourselves space to just acknowledge that.

Priscilla Hung: You know, that actually we’re sad that we can’t do the thing it is we thought we were going to do, but that doesn’t mean that how it is that we’re adapting, isn’t still purposeful. It just means that we have to really lean into interdependence, which is one of the things that Emergent Strategy really talks about is really understanding ourselves as interdependent systems. So that one person’s loss actually is the system’s loss and that there are ways though that different people can move forward and move back as needed to be able to hold that. And so that has been a big piece of the pandemic is just really the slowing down and holding each other through it. I also would love to hear around how Emergent Strategy is showing up in your work, Hannah?

Hannah Thomas: Yeah. My sort of path to Emergent Strategy is that I’m a huge Octavia Butler fan. So it started off much more on the science fiction side of things, but then I’m just over three years in a role as a consultant to nonprofits. And when I was reading Emergent Strategy, I was thinking there’s a huge opportunity here. Nonprofits are really at the forefront of thinking about a really transformed future, a state where we have achieved all of these things where the world is healthier. People are connected and able to thrive, and all of these systems and structures of injustice have been dismantled and replaced with something way better. And I’ve been thinking, you know, I’m not sure we’re going to get there if we don’t make some real changes and realize that we need to be adapting, and we need to think of ourselves as interdependent because the nonprofit sector is amazing in a lot of ways, but it can also replicate harm. It can also look like a copy of some of the systems that we really want to disrupt and change.

Hannah Thomas: So for me, Emergent Strategy has provided a great opportunity, a great starting point to think about something as common as fundraising communications for nonprofits. Those can be really rooted in like individualism, in competition, in dollar signs being the ultimate sign of worth, and Emergent Strategy really helps me think about how should we communicate towards abundance, and towards collective wellbeing, and towards if you win, I also win, we all can win together. Sorry to just really go off there, but it’s really been so valuable to me. And I feel like we’re only really scratching the surface of how much it can really impact the way we work.

Priscilla Hung: I love that. Thank you.

Hannah Thomas: Yeah, thank you for asking Priscilla, I appreciate that. So another kind of juicy topic that really corresponds well with what you were just talking about, making space and sort of that interdependence. I think many of us over the last couple of years have felt a sort of drive and a need to create more possibilities in the way that we’re approaching our lives and our work. But that can feel really challenging when we’re glued to sort of “best practices”, and there’s a lot of things that feel kind of confining. Like the nine-to-five workday, or as I was just speaking about, this dominance of the individual over the collective. What are some of the ways that you found opportunities to create more possibilities in your work? And do you have any tips for listeners on how to do that?

Priscilla Hung: Oh yeah, that’s a great question. Definitely what we need is more possibilities. There are a couple of tools. It is that we use that are not unique to Move to End Violence. We’ve actually learned these from other organizations but they’ve really become hallmarks of how it is that we do the work that I feel like has really opened things up for us. So the first one is actually from Rockwood Leadership, a great organization that we’ve partnered with over the years, and they have something called a POP. And a POP Just basically stands for purpose, outcomes, and process. Where you lay those things out for any training you’re doing, space you’re facilitating, a meeting it is that you’re holding. So we’ve really used that as a way to get grounded before it is that we start. But the key for how we use it is to really focus on the purpose. Again, I know I’ve said that a few times, but that’s also clear in Emergent Strategy, that we got to stay on purpose and to get clear on what the outcomes it is that we’re hoping for. And then the process is really just a suggestion. It’s an idea, right? Like we go through the process piece so that we can do the advanced thinking and preparation required to think about how we might get there, but when we’re actually in space with people really not holding on to that tightly, to allow for emergence and to allow for possibility. And so within that, we feel really clear about what we’re doing, but how we do it is really open to the folks in the room. And so that just really allows us to take different paths, and to lead to different conclusions and learnings then maybe what we had intended, but are really so much more useful for the folks in the room and where there is energy. And so that’s been a really big piece. So sometimes we call it the PO instead of the POP cause the last P is not as important.

Priscilla Hung: And then the other methodology that we’ve used is around physical practice. And so we’ve worked with an amazing teacher, Norma Wong, she’s a Zen Buddhist priest, and she has really innovated this thing called Forward Stance, and a 10 step Tai-Chi practice. Innovated it with Forward Together, which is another great organization. It was really created as a way for movement leaders actually to learn this practice, you know we’re not going to become Tai-Chi masters doing this. We’re not going to memorize like a hundred different steps, but this is a way for us to actually get into our bodies because there’s so much more wisdom in our bodies than we give credit for. We spend so much time in our heads, but actually, there’s much to learn from our actual physical bodies. And so this practice brings us down into that and it really takes this idea. You know, we talk about movement building and social justice movement building. It really brings the concept of movement of actually literally moving together back into that. And that there’s a lot we can learn by being in a space together and moving together.

Priscilla Hung: For example, we just started doing small in-person meetings of our design team. We just started a few months ago and that was very exciting. There’s like six of us in a room, so very small. But we were practicing the physical practice, and one of the pieces of feedback was like, oh, I think that the pace is too fast. So it brings up questions around pace, and who is leading, and who is following, and what is our awareness of each other? And so this person has said that the pace feels too fast and it feels like I’m being left behind. And that the person who is leading is not even paying attention to that. And so then I’m just now going through the motions, but it’s not actually grounding for me. And this was shared in the context of the physical practice, but that’s actually a real movement dynamic. Like when you talk about like coalition work and community building work, like who is really taking the lead? Who are they leaving behind? And how are they actually doing that work that’s required to bring people along together?

Priscilla Hung: And so this allows like a movement dynamic to actually be experienced in our bodies. And so then we played around with it in the Tai Chi practice. So we said, well, what would it feel like to go slower? Maybe we go slower. And then what we realized by doing the physical practice was not that it was too fast or too slow, it was that what we needed was to have clear communication about what the step was, and to allow ourselves to pause in between. To just like take a breath in between. And then once people could do that, then they could actually keep up the pace. And I think that’s just real learning for us when we think about how are we communicating clearly with each other? How are we giving ourselves time for the pause? The reflection? The break in between the different steps? And that actually people can go pretty quickly together if you build that in. And we could have talked about it for hours, but the learning felt so much more present and so much more visceral because we were actually doing it physically. And so that was just been such an unlock for us. And just a way of creating possibilities that are not just about us, like running through ideas, and just like verbally sharing over and over as so many of our meetings can be like in nonprofit spaces, but really going back into the wisdom of our bodies.

Priscilla Hung: And I will say that this also feels really important as folks who are working in movements to end violence because so much of what violence does is disconnect us from our bodies and disconnect us from that wisdom. And so it’s a real practice to actually bring us back and to hold our bodies as actually safe places. As places of learning, as places that we can listen to, and that what our bodies are saying is actually valuable. Just even that mind/body/spirit connection is also been such a big unlock for us. And it’s something that you don’t always see in movement space, but it has been really valuable. And so even during the pandemic, we’ve been doing it virtually. It’s harder over Zoom, of course, and we still do it because it makes such a big difference to us and it reminds us to breathe, it reminds us why we’re here, and just allows us to come into whatever space so much more grounded, even if it’s a virtual space. And I know Hannah that, you know, in your work with clients that you had just mentioned, this idea of creating space and creating possibility is also something that you’re playing with. I don’t know if you can share a little bit about that?

Hannah Thomas: Yeah. For me as a consultant, I think there can be frankly, some tension in trying to create more possibility. We are paid to help achieve a certain thing for a client and there’s expectations set around what will be produced out of a meeting and what it takes to produce that out of a meeting. It’s sort of like a time is money kind of situation as the default in terms of relationships between consultants and clients. I think we have had a lot of opportunities and successes around sort of expanding clients’ notions of the ways that we can approach our work so that it’s more inclusive, or more accessible, or offers different entry points for folks to engage. So whether that’s some folks don’t want to speak their opinion, they’d rather chat in, or they’d rather through an exercise process out how they feel or how they think about a given topic. And I think there’s been some great ideas that have come to the table there.

Hannah Thomas: But there’s still bigger, broader questions. I think in terms of, you know when I set out to craft an agenda for a meeting, how precise should that be? How much can I assume about who will be taking the lead? Am I supposed to be taking the lead through the whole entire session? So there’s a lot of questions. I think it’s good to at least actively be thinking about it, even if we haven’t been able to put fully into practice, some of this thinking. I just can quote Emergent Strategy all day. But one of the other ideas that adrienne talks about is, you know, there’s a conversation only the people in this room can have, so find it, right? And that might not be the conversation that you thought you were going to have. That might not be the conversation that aligns with your agenda. So even just having that sort of seed in one’s mind as a consultant, I think allows for creating more possibility. But it’s one of those areas that I would really love to explore more deeply. Think through how we can set good, strong, clear expectations with clients around, you know, this is going to take some imagination. This is going to take some more elbow room than maybe what you might be expecting, but the outcomes could be extraordinary or transformative.

Priscilla Hung: I really love that. And I love the bringing in of the what’s the special conversation in this room. And also, you know, the challenges as a consultant and around role and time and in what spaces does this work, you know, and then what spaces does it not, right? Like it really isn’t for everyone. And that’s also true for MEV. It’s not a program for everyone. Not everyone wants to sit in a room with people and do Tai Chi together. Usually, that’s true for a lot of people, and then they begin to understand it over time. But there’s something to be said around a two-year commitment, where you then have the time to develop that together, which is super different in a consulting kind of relationship. So definitely appreciate the challenges there.

Hannah Thomas: Totally. One idea that you have mentioned to me is about how we work at the small scale is how we work at the large scale, which also sort of relates to the idea of how we do the work is the work. What does working at a small scale look like or mean to you? And how does that ladder up to such a huge vision as Move to End Violence?

Priscilla Hung: Yes. I will say that when I first got to Move to End Violence, I was surprised at how small it is. We work with an average of like 15 to 20 fellows per two-year cycle. And I had come from organizations where we work with hundreds of people a year. And so it was surprising to me at first, like, wow, all these resources going into the small group of people, but then, you know, it became clear that what we’re actually trying to do is much bigger than that. And that, you know, we’re talking about what does leadership mean? And what does that look like? What does it mean to do organizational transformation and to really challenge this idea of a nonprofit industrial complex? And that actually there’s a different way. It is that we can create the environments that we work in together. What does it mean to do movement building? And how is movement-building different from institution building? And especially when you’re dealing with problems that are so entrenched in the history of this country and that are really wicked problems in so many ways.

Priscilla Hung: And that these are the things that we are trying to figure out together using a small group of people to be able to do that. And what I’ve learned on the small scale is really that it allows you to build relationships with people in ways it is that you can’t really do on a big scale. And that it’s really like one-to-one, day after day, and how those relationships get built. We are a funder program, and so the ability to build trust with the people in the program is really huge, right? Like it doesn’t all happen at one time. It really requires us to show up and keep showing up, and keep showing up. And then that’s how the trust builds, and the trust is so essential because what we’re asking these leaders to do is to be vulnerable. We’re asking them to be honest, to take risks, to really try to do their work differently and to take the space, to imagine different ways of doing the work, and to then actually try it.

Priscilla Hung: And those things are easy because so many of the oppressive forces we’re all working under really tries to keep people small and tries to keep people to those practices you had named earlier where like, this is how work looks like, and you have to work this way. And so we’re asking people is actually really transformative, and the way it is that we create the environment for that to happen is actually by staying in this small and really trusting that what happens in the small will then ripple out in this kind of like fractal effect, which adrienne maree brown talks so much about. And that that’s how change actually happens is that it actually happened deep and not wide. The small group really allows us to do that. And I had mentioned earlier that some of the work that we’re trying to do is really to mend some of these tensions that are happening in our movements, are happening on a large scale that really make a big difference.

Priscilla Hung: And there’s something really different about sitting across the room from somebody, even if we’re on a virtual screen, there’s only 20 faces on that screen and everyone can see you. That’s a really different thing. And if people are naming, Hey, this is harm. And I have experienced in this movement, how is the movement going to be accountable to that? It’s really different if you’re in that room and you can’t just pretend it’s someone else’s problem. You can’t pretend that well, my organization doesn’t work on that. So then I’m excused from it. That actually you’ve built with these people and that you are part of the same movement. And then, so what is it you’re going to do? And so the small really allows the space for that and creates room to then actually respond to it because of how hard that leap can be into vulnerability.

Priscilla Hung: So, this is something that I’ve really learned within this program about how impactful that kind of scale of work can be. And then from there, it actually does scale up because then these people go back to their organizations and to the coalition, they’re a part of, and they take some of these practices and learnings and shifts it is that they’re making and they bring it there. And then it kind of really grows from there. And MEV is just one of many communities of practice that exists that are really trying to do work in this way. And so there’s also a way that it’s not just our cohort is the small in this scenario is that, and maybe it’s also the small in this scenario and that we believe that what we’re trying to do here then also has ripple effects and then connects to the other organizations, and spaces, and communities of learning and practice who are also doing very similar things. And then that is how it is we can make shifts on a movement level, rather than trying to start big and knowing that we can never go deep in the same way. So that’s some of the way that’s really shifted my thinking around how you create change on a large scale. Small in terms of number of people doesn’t mean your vision is small. There’s no limit to how big the vision can be regardless of the size of your organization. So holding the simultaneity of that has also been a really fun experience.

Hannah Thomas: And you’ve mentioned Priscilla too, how that focus on the small can feel more manageable to tackle and how important that can be to feel like something is sort of within your grasp, or you’re capable of making that sort of change. But then as you mentioned earlier, the ripple effects are actually huge and really line up with that ultimate vision at a super big picture.

Priscilla Hung: I appreciate that Hannah because you know, when we’re talking about gender-based violence, or really talking about like heteropatriarchy, colonialism, settler colonialism, capitalism, all these really big things. And it’s like, okay, as a program, even as a well-funded program, how do we even change things on that scale? It can be really challenging to figure out how it is that we start? And then it’s actually, oh, we start with ourselves. That’s how we start. That’s how we start anything. That’s the only way it is that we can do this as we start with ourselves. And then we bring in other people and then we work together in partnership and then the more people can be brought in and that’s the way to get at those really big issues. And are there ways that you’re also doing small and in the work you do?

Hannah Thomas: Yes. In fact, there are some ways. I think that’s pretty key to our recommendations that we make to clients is to start small. And a lot of that can come from a sort of pragmatism approach. A lot of nonprofit staff are near if not burnt out, working with limited resources, all of that sort of stuff. So a lot of times it’s just like, “Start where you are, do what you can.” That’s lit Arthur Ashe, tennis great, quote that we sometimes like to share with clients too. And it really hits on what you were talking about earlier, Priscilla, in terms of going deep versus going wide and actually building those relationships. If you have an opportunity to reach 10 audience members, folks who would help build your community, who would really understand you well and join you and support you, that is more beneficial than reaching a thousand people with one quick surface level, something that’s not going to be as meaningful in terms of building the folks who know you understand you, support you, all of that good stuff.

Hannah Thomas: Another way that we think about the small or the way we do the work is the work, is in the contrast between internal communications and external communications. A lot of nonprofits are really focused on communicating outward well. They want all their audiences out in the community to know and understand them. But when we’re thinking about it, it’s really starting at the core with who you are and how you work together, collaborate internally amongst your team. How you set up a meeting, how you collaborate with your colleagues, all of that sort of stuff I think is in relationship with how you approach your mission and how you communicate outward to your audiences. So that’s something that’s often core to our approach is not only thinking about external communications but also thinking about on the smallest scale in the internal space where nobody external is looking. How do you work? How do you communicate?

Priscilla Hung: I so love that you said that because that is definitely something that’s been important to us. We have a core team of like six people on our staff team. And we are always saying that like, hey, if we are not feeling clear about what it is that we’re doing, then there’s no way that the people around us are also feeling clear. And any kind of tension or ambiguity or ambivalence it is that we’re holding is going to be manifested. And so then what do we need with each other to be able to work together? Like if we’re going to ask people to be vulnerable in this space, then we have to be vulnerable with each other and feel like we can practice that. If we’re going to ask people to practice hard conversations, then we actually have to be able to hold those conversations with each other. So I love you bringing in that dimension of small is all, and that there’s no separation from us as the team holding the space from the actual people who were focused on and centering. That actually it’s all connected. And so that’s another way that that kind of like fractal or ripple effect happens.

Hannah Thomas: So, this is my sort of last big question for you, Priscilla, which is that Move to End Violence is sunsetting after 10 years. And adrienne maree brown says change is constant (be like water). With that quote in mind, what does it mean to you for MEV to come to an end in the midst of constant change? And how does the idea of water resonate or not for you?

Priscilla Hung: I love the water metaphor. I saw something on social media like a month or two ago. And it says, “Remember that you are water, cry, cleanse flow, let go.” And that feels so appropriate when we’re talking about endings, right? Like all of those things. I will say that I’ve been part of organizations that eventually closed. And sometimes those things were really messy and the way that those happened. And I’ve also been a consultant on projects where I never got to see what happened to the work that I had worked on. And so it feels like such a privilege actually to be part of an organization where we know our sunset is happening and that we can plan and prepare for it. And maybe was always designed to be five, two-year cycles. And so we’re in the middle of our fifth cycle right now.

Priscilla Hung: And so our sunset is planned for the end of 2022. This gives us a chance to think about what is our relationship to endings, both as individuals, but also as a movement? And how do we honor the work, and wisdom, and brilliance that went into creating this, while also really holding some of the sense of loss that will happen when we close. Obviously, for me personally, but also for the people that we’ve worked in, I have really seen MEV as a particular space that they could come to and learn from, while also making space for something new to be created in there. So the ability to hold all of those things really gives us a chance to practice. What does it mean to close responsibly, and also to like really focus on like, what do we want to survive after the program has closed?

Priscilla Hung: And so much of that is really the relationships that have been created. Those relationships will continue and can continue to strengthen regardless of whether or not the program is here for that. So how do we really keep nurturing those? And how do we, as the people who’ve been holding this space continue to really feed those relationships and hold on to them? That what we’re not saying is goodbye to each other, and instead, we’re just saying goodbye to a particular structure and form. We’re not the only space that is doing the work it is that we’re doing, that we’re really part of a larger ecosystem, and that there are so many other communities that are available to keep practicing, and keep growing, and keep iterating on what it is that we’re doing. And those spaces will continue to exist even without us. And that part is also really exciting and lets people know that there’s other places to land that it’s not only us.

Priscilla Hung: The way that movement works, I hope that the attachment that we have are not to the structures and that it’s really to this shared purpose and to the relationships that is, that we’ve built along the way. Like you said, it’s constant change, it really is. But that’s how life is. We’re kind of fooling ourselves. If we think that things will stay the same for years and years, that even if your organization is not closing or does it have an actual end date, it doesn’t mean that what happens next year is going to be the same as what happened this year and on and on. And so it just gives us a chance to keep practicing.

Hannah Thomas: Absolutely. And I just want to shout you out for that abundance too, of just like we are not the only space doing this work and there’s other spaces that are, you know, it’s their moment to step in, step up, or we can join as part of them. This is a good way to end this podcast. In fact, because you know, it doesn’t have to be a true ending. I’m hopeful that Priscilla, you, and I will always keep this conversation going, nurture this thinking because it’s so valuable for me. I really, really appreciate you taking so much time to chat with me this morning.

Priscilla Hung: Thank you. I’m so excited to have been here and to make the connection. I feel like I want to tell people that actually part of the reason we even got connected is that like in our parallel universes, we were each blogging about Emergent Strategy and its impact on our work. And so I think on the Big Duck website, people can find the blog that you wrote and on the Move to End Violence. So I’m saying that people can find the blog that I wrote. And I just love that the convergence of that work and how even if we’re working in really different spaces that these same principles are really resonating. And it just makes me so much more hopeful for the changes that we’re trying to create together. So thank you so much for having me, and reaching out Hannah, it’s been such a pleasure.

Hannah Thomas: Yeah, of course, Priscilla, and if you’d like to connect with Priscilla and learn more about Move to End Violence, you can visit Priscilla’s blog post is on there and you can also find their Instagram and Facebook handles on the website as well. So definitely encourage you to connect. Priscilla would love that and Big Duck, you know where to find us So thank you again, Priscilla so much for being on the show. Thank you all for listening and we’ll catch you next time.

Hannah Thomas

Hannah Thomas is the Former Director of Learning and Innovation at Big Duck

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