Celebrating our community

As we find our people and build and sustain the communities that help us thrive and move toward justice, let us be in our authentic, imperfect, beautiful humanity. Let us give grace — to ourselves and those around us — as we move in and toward justice. We need each other.

I started as Executive Director of SVP Seattle in August 2020. With that time stamp on my start date, I don’t need to give much context into how I spent most of my first few months, or really, my first 18 months: alone. I met people through Zoom, and occasionally on walks or outdoor meetings. But I couldn’t experience what I heard was SVP at its best – when we were together, in person, working together to build a community ready and resilient to use our giving to advance justice.

The first time the SVP community gathered post-lockdown was in September of 2021 in the backyard of Dave Thompson and Judy Jesiolowski’s home. A small group of us sat in a circle, not sure where to start the conversation. But it only took a few minutes before the laughter started and ideas flowed. We ignited the spark in our community.

I recently read an article by Dr. Albertina Lopez on the importance of community in philanthropy. She starts her piece by challenging the reader to explore why people who practice philanthropy must explore their role within community, stating, “…we talk a lot about communities that are “served” or that are “affected.” The use of othering language ends up distancing practitioners from thinking more deeply about community and what it means to be in it.”

Our community has been and continues to be the heart of SVP. However, how we think about community has changed and evolved. In 2021, around the same time as that backyard gathering, SVP adopted our Reimagine Vision and invited anyone who wants to practice collective philanthropy to join us. We invite everyone to join us – grassroots leaders with the knowledge of what their communities want, philanthropic and non-profit practitioners, the philanthropic curious, students, and advocates of racial justice – because we need a cross-race, cross-class, cross-cultural community to create the justice and equity we seek.  

Since that backyard gathering in 2021, we’ve continued to build and activate our community through grantmaking cohorts, learning series, and on the steps of the State Capitol. And in the last few months, I’m grateful we’ve had so many opportunities to foster our community in intimate spaces. Julie Pham, Ruby Love, and John Clements hosted two Chew on This dinners, where those new and familiar with SVP came together to break bread and explore questions around wealth and money. Jason Sears is creating our monthly virtual community space, Village SVP. Our Climate Justice Grantmaking Collaborative is actively learning and working together to create a new model of partnership and giving for SVP. 

A written description of the why SVP Seattle values community

As we prepare to celebrate and learn together at our Annual Celebration on June 20, we are so grateful to our growing community, which is forging new spaces for us to come together, learn about ourselves and others, and create meaningful change through partnership and trust. I hope to see you there!