Something worth stretching for

Written by Marissa Neuman, Chicago 2013 Program Leader. You can also view the post on, the national blog for Summer of Solutions programs and year round solutionary work happening in Grand Aspirations.

Compartmentalized is a word that I often use to describe the separated realms that make up my day to day life, and I think that for many young activists this is a similar sentiment. Many of us have other jobs, school, children, relationships, other activist work, or passions that occupy our time and energy. The majority of my time is spent between the ceramic studio, Let’s Go Chicago, and feminist organizing. With so many of these sectors functioning simultaneously and often not in union with one another it is easy for me to feel spread ultra thin.

On those weeks when days feel like hours and work looks like steep mountains for me to conquer, it is important for me to know why I spend my time the way I spend it. Sometimes these reasons are more clear on certain days than others and it is often more challenging for me to find real clarity when the pressure keeps building on top of me.

This past week started off as one of these ‘bottom of the mountain’ kind of weeks. Several projects were due at school, a fundraiser I had been planning for months was taking place, and an important grant was in the works for Let’s Go. By the end of the week all of these tasks were successfully accomplished and all of those seemingly daunting mountains felt like foothills in retrospect. Admittedly, I think it is relatively symptomatic to make little of the pain of a challenging week when time has nursed the wounds. However, the transformation of my ‘mountains into foothills’ was not a temporal consequence, but the result of breaking down that precipice and conquering it with a team of fellow solutionaries.

The thing about working with Let’s Go Chicago is that even though I sometimes have to stretch my energy and time thinner, the truth is that I am stretching it over an incredible armature of people that reinforce and propel the work we do. I am not alone at the bottom of the mountain, I am standing with my fellow leaders Nell, Ethan, Molly, Peter and Pavan looking ahead at the foothills before us.

I am able to do this work and participate in Grand Aspirations because of the egalitarian leadership structure that is based on compassion and the fact that we all have a stake in the work we do. In my vision of the future more spaces and structures are organized like Let’s Go as a harmonious place where lots of worlds overlap and vertices intersect.

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