Working in Chicago, it is super easy to realize how passionate you are about multiple issues. In the birth city of community organizing, there is always a protest or rally to attend. With all the issues converging, and with the increased awareness of intersectionality (the place where issues overlap, or intersect), it is just as easy to get bogged down in a sense of hopelessness because there are SO many social injustices that need to be addressed.
On retreats at the Darst Center, we talk about Circles of Influence. We use this tool to really address how to not feel SO overwhelmed when looking at all the social justice issues there are in our nation and everything that needs to be done, but also understanding that we as individuals only have a certain amount of time and energy to expel on social justice issues. For example: if I cared super deeply and passionately, and acted upon those passions for all the issues then I’d easily get burnt out, as well as be fairly ineffective. Circles of Influence help to decipher what issues pull at your heart strings, the issues that set a fire in your gut.
Something that I love about ChiYAV is that we all work on different things. There is a mix of direct service and education. No two people in my community are doing the same type of work. For me, that’s really liberating; my work experience is vastly different than the work experience of Emily or Kyle, and so we can discuss the highs and lows of our day without comparison because our work situations are so different there IS no comparison. While I haven’t actually done Circles of Influence with my community members, I feel confident that the issues that fire me up don’t fire up some of my other housemates the same way. There is an understanding that all of them are important, and it’s okay that we are all working on different things. It’s how the Circles of Influence work.
As one person, I may not be able accomplish as much as I’d like to, but with my community (and my community members’ communities) the impact increases. And while I am just one person, I’m not alone in this overwhelming world of social injustices.