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Planting Our Roots: Developing Resist’s Organizational Principles and Living Into Our Purpose

By Kathy Lebrón

Prin·ci·ple /ˈprinsəpəl/ noun

  1. a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

Last month we began to share our story of transformation and presented our theory of change. This month we’re answering the question: “What are Resist’s fundamental truths as an organization?” by unveiling our organizational principles — the compass that guides our work.

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“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves. Keep intact your roots.” — Victor Hugo

Just as a tree depends on its roots for grounding, stability, and nourishment, we at Resist were in search of a foundation that both grounded and gave life to our mission, beliefs, and values. Like many non-profit organizations embarking on organizational change processes, our ongoing conflicts stemmed from misalignment and a failure to identify our points of unity. It was not enough to simply talk the talk. We had to get at the heart of what we stand for.

Through our work with consultants and internal work as a staff collective, it became obvious that in order to fully live into Resist’s mission and actualize our theory of change, we needed to get clear about the organizational principles that anchor our practices.

As a foundation, it was key for us to reflect on how we could better serve our grantees and the movement. The first set of principles we created were for our resource redistribution program, where we allocate funding to grassroots groups. We convened an internal working group to support us in reimagining our grants program, and together, we answered the following questions.

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The outcome of the process was a set of principles that transformed how we redistribute resources. By taking the time to reflect on our (until then unnamed) principles we were emboldened to speak the truth of our vision for Resist: to use our resources to truly support movement building. These conversations planted the seeds for the changes that took place over the next couple of years: a move to a grantee-led grant-making panel, a commitment to centering relational work, and building infrastructure for consent and accountability. The magic that transpired led us to embark on this journey for other areas of our work.

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We now present you with Resist’s Organizational Principles, which serve as our blueprint as we become a more radical and accountable organization to the frontline communities we redistribute resources to.

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By sharing these practices and principles with you, it is our hope that you too will ask yourself what your organization’s fundamental truths are and what actions you will take to make them come into fruition. How will you hold yourself and your organization accountable to the communities most impacted by oppression — to those fighting for a more just and liberated tomorrow? Stay with us on this journey if you wish to learn more about how Resist is taking the steps to walk our talk every day.

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Written by

Resist is a foundation that supports people’s movements for justice and liberation. We redistribute resources back to frontline communities. www.resist.org

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