Healthy and Abundant Service

First of all: I hope you voted. Yes for democratic participation.

I’m sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting for my first physical in a while. Since having my son last year, I’ve been concerned about cholesterol, blood sugar, new pain in my shoulders, random dizzy spells, and a myriad of other things.

This doctor’s visit is me investing in self-care more deeply than “I need a massage/acupuncture appointment/other one-time intervention”. My continual awareness of our country’s heightened pain requires me to invest in my health from a thoughtful, holistic place. I want health and thriving to be the place from which my service flows.

This “service from health and abundance” principle encouraged me to reorganize my work. My goal is to create connection and harmony between people and with the earth. The most effective way I’ve found to accomplish this externally (systems) and internally (within me) is to work through relationships. Nowadays, I support those leading the way to social and ecological harmony: regenerative agriculture farmers, ranchers, and advocates; climate solutions activists; the leaders who support women entrepreneurs; the list goes on.

For me, grace is cultivating peace through connection and relationship. It leads to power: using those relationships to shift systems and circumstances. Which becomes sovereignty: we have deeper authority (not control) over our consciousness as a species, and we stop destroying the things we need the most - each other and the earth.

Two women who’ve recently inspired me to dig deeper around grace, power and sovereignty were Dana Cooper and Mona Munroe-Younis. While planning the University of Michigan’s Water Symposium in early October, they wanted to ensure that the activists and academics in attendance received inspiration as well as practical skills. They wanted to highlight water as a metaphor (flow, ease + strength, consistency, flexibility) in addition to the vital work of protecting and equitably sharing this resource.

I had the honor of offering a keynote presentation to this incredible group of people, and I chose to explore “real talk” reasons why the change we know needs to happen doesn’t happen. Most Symposium attendees understood the power maps, policies, and discriminatory infrastructure creating Michigan’s water crisis. But what about the identity struggles, exhaustion and resistance to compromise that underlie some of our most intractable organizing initiatives?

I’ve spent the last few years investing in the study, frameworks and tools to manage relational barriers to change. It’s why I focus so much on grace, power and sovereignty as my personal and professional organizing principles.

Check out my keynote if you want to dive deeper on those frameworks and tools. I’d love to know your thoughts - the framework (Social Fertility) is a work in progress.

May those of us who support others serve from health and abundance.

Nikki Silvestri