During the first few weeks of the shutdown, many of us responded to the crisis by stocking up on nonperishable foods we thought we might need to see us through the coming weeks (and months).
At home, we put away those staple items that would last a long time but continued to build our meals around the fresh food in the fridge. Then, every few weeks, we felt the need to return to the store and get more items for the week ahead. Meanwhile, the pantry we had already stocked stayed full – and forgotten.
In movement spaces, we do something similar. We often feel the urgency to invent new frameworks and analyses and to innovate solutions and narratives, particularly in times of crisis. We tend to scold our collective selves for not being prepared enough or organized enough. We ignore or dismiss the lessons we have learned, the relationships we have fostered, and the readiness of the general public to the narratives and ideas we have been building over time.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic and the most recent uprisings for racial justice are testing all of us around the globe in ways we could never have imagined, and many of us are naturally seeking out fresh ideas and tools to respond to these unprecedented times. Meanwhile, many of the relationships, institutions, tools, and bold ideas that we have cultivated over the past several years or even decades – our movement pantry, if you will – are revealing their hardiness and their versatility.
It might be the place to start to gather the ingredients and staples you stored away for a time like this. You might discover that its shelves contain the building blocks for your sustenance – not just in this moment, but for the long run.
Deepa Iyer at BMP and Trish Tchume, a social and racial justice advocate, have developed this framework and tool to help you think about what’s in your movement pantry and how you can shape and mold it to meet your goals. Think of your movement pantry as having three shelves: frameworks; practices; relationships. What exists already that you can bring out and that you can build on? What do you wish to add and how? Below is a graphic to visualize your own pantry and a worksheet to help you identify what you have, what you can shape and mold, and what you need to stock.