What is “Movement Work?”: The Values and Visions That Guide Us

August 1, 2019 WV Staff

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Since getting back from the Center for Popular Democracy’s People’s Convention in Detroit this past weekend we’ve been thinking through the deepest values and biggest visions that guide our work. We want to take a minute to share and define these values and visions so that, as we continue our work, we do it more collectively and clearly than ever.

So, what do we mean by “the movement” or “movement work?” Terms like these are being thrown around a lot lately and sometimes with little meaning attached to them. When we talk about “the movement” we aren’t talking about the fight for or against one politician or piece of legislation, we’re talking about the fight against the dominant cultural ideas and practices that have and continue to hurt us—especially the most marginalized among us. It’s important for us to name that these dominant ideas form systems of oppression that shape the ways that all of us move through the world (capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and so on). Whether it’s the exploitation of workers, the institutions of racialized mass incarceration and detention, or the extraction of our planet’s resources for massive corporate profit, these systems, and the values that they’re founded on, allow and encourage exploitation. All of us are caught in these systems in specific and unique ways and therefore experience different combinations of marginalization and privilege.

In our work we’re committed to both reducing and repairing the harm that these systems of oppression cause while imagining alternative ways of being in community and building a state, region, and world that allows us ALL to thrive. We stand firmly rooted in values of interdependence, mutual and community care, and fundamental inclusion. We strive to live these values in all of our work, understanding how every stance and action we take is in line with these values and is working toward building a world beyond the limits set by the systems we currently live under. We strive to live these values by continually working to unlearn the ways that oppressive systems have shaped our ideas and behaviors and learn new ways to see the world around us.

Our dear friend and community leader, Jessi Parker is a prime example of someone who lives our values. Jessi builds trust by sharing lived experiences of struggle, resilience, and resistance with the people she works with. She continues to rise to the challenge to fight for environmental and economic justice in a profoundly inclusive way. Her fire and passion are unapologetic even in the face of doubt from the outside world.

Our work draws on the movement work that came before us (the civil rights movement, labor movement, feminist movement, and more) as well as the work that is all around us (environmental justice, the fight for a just economy, the movement for black lives to name a few). We aspire to ground all of our work—census and civic engagement, food justice, education justice, and so much more—in our core values while also understanding how it fits into our vision for a just future. This work is hard. This work draining. This work is deeply fulfilling and life giving.

Get in touch with our team and find out how you can live more fully into our collective values, learn more about the analysis that guides our work, and support the movement for a just future in West Virginia and beyond!