As we close out another year, it is important to remember that the next day is not promised; each day we get to see, we should greet with gratitude and excitement. 

That approach to organizing is what helps us sustain. I have witnessed this gratitude and excitement, and much more, among the RBAC team this past year. One of the practices we have at RBAC is to give “kudos” to those we want to recognize. This write up is my kudos and encouragement to all of RBAC, and all of Rainier Beach. 

This was a tough year. Many of us lost loved ones, got sick, struggled with self-esteem, launched a nu career path, didn’t complete a project, or something like that. Despite the curveballs that life and the government threw this year, we all kept swinging. FYI – any baseball player that stacks up home runs, also stacks up strikes! It’s like “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” (Michael Jordan). The lesson from this? Keep swinging! Keep shooting! The ideas that you bring to the table are inspiring and it is that energy that has brought all of us here today. Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step – and you’ve been running for a while!

Having gratitude and excitement doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge and address all the pain we all hold. How do we balance being grateful with our frustration? How do we balance excitement with our grief? I don’t know! But the keys are found in the journey to finding that balance. A part of that journey is working towards being more honest, first with ourselves, then with everyone else. In the essay Love As Political Resistance…, adrienne marie brown says “we need radical honesty- learning to speak from our root systems about how we feel and what we want. Speak our needs and listen to other’s needs.” Easier said than done, this is why tools like Circle practice are important in helping us work towards that goal. Shout out to the Circle Keepers and anyone who’s been in a Circle. That is one way I’ve seen Rainier Beach putting our fingerprints on the culture and pushing the envelope.

There’s an Afrikan proverb that says, “it is the young trees that make up the forest.” Shout out to the YATTAs – “young adults transitioning into adulthood,” that 17-24ish age range. This year we have seen young people all over the world experiencing tremendous amounts of unprecedented adversity to their financial, mental, and overall health. The problem is that the generations who are supposed to make the world safe and accessible for the upcoming generations are actually doing the opposite, and justifying it poorly. This seems to happen to every generation, and it’s something we all need to commit to combating actively. The YATTAs who grew up in Rainier Beach have been doing that by creating nu and dynamic ways to make space for other YATTAs in our community. Master P put it “FUBU: For Us By Us.” This year YATTAs got active by coordinating and teaching financial literacy and entrepreneurship classes, learning about social movements and abolition, learning how to influence city and state level policy, holding consistent healing spaces for community, and fareal just being committed to self-growth. Look to the YATTAs as an example of performing while persevering, which is what we’re all striving to do.

In closing, just know that YOU GOT IT! It’s in your hand. If you made it this far, what else can really get in your way? The late great bell hooks said “many of us long for love but lack the courage to take risks” (All About Love, 2001). This is your encouragement to take that risk! Make that step, start that LLC, read that book, build that habit, cut that ex off! If we’ve learned anything from 2021 it is that we gotta be ready to adapt, and to do that, we must take daily risks. How much easier is it to take a risk if you approach it with gratitude and excitement? Look to the young folx for a model on how to do that, if you can’t see it in yourself sometimes.

When Nu Year’s Eve comes around, and the flurry of memories rush into your mind and heart, take a deep breath and remember that ritual we’ve been doing for some time now:

Inhale Courage, Exhale Fear.

Here’s to the Nu Year!

-JD, Transformation Strategist