Women Hold Up Half The Sky: L.O.V.E Notes

March 15, 2019

In our monthly blog L.O.V.E. (Living Our Value of Equity) Notes, we share ideas and stories about equity-based community engagement and fostering L.O.V.E. in our communities. Here, we acknowledge how L.O.V.E., as an acronym, and love, as a way of operating in the world, require relationship-building, vulnerability, reflection, and opportunities for healing.

During the 2019 Campus Compact Western Region Continuums of Service Conference, attendees were able to tour the largest collection of outdoor murals in the US at Chicano Park in San Diego. Participants had the opportunity to gaze upon transformative works of community/public art. One such mural (pictured above) was titled “Women Hold Up Half the Sky.” If you look at the image, you can see that the effort of holding up half the sky requires dedication, strength, and determination, but also opportunities for rest and healing to continue the work.

In this installment of L.O.V.E. Notes, we want to highlight healing as a tool for equity-based community engagement and, for women’s history month, honor the tremendous impact that women have made in the field of civic and community engagement.

The work of Nexus Community Partners brings in healing as a centering tool and views equity as “fair access to resources and opportunities, full participation in the life and well-being of the community, and self-determination in meeting fundamental needs” (Nexus Community Engagement Institute, 2018). Equity-based community engagement highlights four ways in which institutions rebuild trust in communities: (1) centering self-care and personal healing; (2) shifting organizational and interpersonal culture to be more human and relationship-centered; (3) needing to prioritize healing in our institutions’ budgets and in our funding practices; and (4) incorporating relationship-centered practices in community to repair trust (Brown, 2019).

With this in mind, we share resources for healing in this month’s installment of L.O.V.E. Notes. Particular attention is given to women of color in academia. Although their work in this field does not necessarily appear in the service-learning and community engagement arenas, their connection and contribution come from long historical traditions of social thought and action in their own communities. We honor the women of color who have had to and continue to navigate and confront the spaces of racism and heteropatriarchy in the academy.

Many thanks to the sisters, scholars, mothers, teachers, grandmothers, presidents, daughters, leaders, and aunts who have made the path by walking it and who continue to open doors so that the voices of women, especially intersectional women, have a platform. If you are not recognized, we recognize you; if your praises are not sung, we sing them, and if your efforts have not been honored, we honor them. Thank you for the efforts you have made to keep community at the center, healing as a transformative practice, and L.O.V.E. as a leadership strategy.

Addition: March 18, 2019
This blog was written before the hate crime and terrorist attack that took place in New Zealand on Friday. As an addendum to this, Campus Compact reaffirms that our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is based on a belief that for a democracy to thrive, diversity is a strength, inclusion is a must, and advancing equity is the only way to live up to the promise of full participation. Our work in L.O.V.E. is centered on countering hate. May the Muslim community in New Zealand and those most impacted by intolerance and hate be healed by the outpouring of love and support and by our collective commitment towards love and justice.

What does this kind of L.O.V.E. call us to do, individually and as institutions? Here are some ideas gathered from various sources. Use them as tools for reflection and action. We invite you to share stories with us about what your institutions are doing to inspire L.O.V.E., eliminate barriers to full participation, address racial inequity, and create communities consistent with our shared aspirations. Please send questions, stories, and ideas to us at LOVE@compact.org.


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