Sustainability is not singularly about the planet on which we live, it translates to business, to government, to humanity–to endless entities that people have identified as important to maintain for future generations.
Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing particular strategies, taking particular intentional steps, fosters longevity.
Sustainability means meeting our own needs of the moment/the time period without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
When I joined the Stonewall organization in the summer of 2020 I found myself joining an organization that had been around for 39 years–on the surface, an entity that people have identified as critically important to maintain for future generations.
When I joined the organization some of my first tasks were redefining the executive director’s role, understanding and getting the organization through the immediate challenges of the COVID pandemic, and starting the conversation around developing particular strategies and intentional acts that would ensure the longevity of the organization while ensuring future generations would be able to leverage the power of the organization to meet the needs of their time period–to make it sustainable.
While the Stonewall Columbus organization has long been known for producing the Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival & March–our largest Program and our largest fundraising effort that has allowed the organization to maintain all these years; the Stonewall organization has been far more than just Pride to the queer community–actually, to central-Ohio and beyond.
- This organization has been at the heart of inclusive legislative change and practice at the city, county, and state levels.
- This organization has been a part of telling the story of the queer community of Ohio in an effort to ensure the community is seen.
- This organization has made space so that other LGBTQI+ organizations could thrive.
Past caretakers of the Stonewall organization made intentional decisions that allowed the organization to maintain all of these years–to be able to respond to the in-the-moment needs of the time. A collection of those caretakers did the work that allowed the Stonewall Columbus organization to create intentional space for the community with the Stonewall Columbus Community Center–we are so grateful. And now, the current caretakers, of board and staff, are working to meet many expectations as the organization exists during what may be seen as a generational zeitgeist shift–an appropriate shift.
In this time period the representative image of our LGBTQI+ community has changed from what it was at the onset of the queer liberation movement–we are far more inclusive. Our representative image is far less cis and white; increasingly more BIPoc, Non-Binary, and Trans; composed of more same-gender loving families with kids; decreasingly reliant on notions of binaries; and among others dimensions, reclaiming and creating queer as an affirming identity.
As our community grows because of the intentional practice of inclusive actions, we have to break down tendencies of competition and support tendencies of collaboration–intentional acts that create sustainable relationships. Intentional acts such as believing in positive intent, engaging with moments of apology and forgiveness, checking-in with empathy and other such considerate acts of human understanding. I hope our community can find more ways and spaces to collaborate so that we have more of us working together in combined efforts towards similar outcomes–I acknowledge this is not easy work.
These last few years as Executive Director have been a study in the concept of sustainability–for me, the human, and for the Stonewall organization. I’ve been going non-stop since joining the organization in the summer of 2020 working to help usher in positive organizational change, new and renewed community connections, and seeking out methods to support economic sustainability for the Stonewall organization well into the future. During these years I’ve realized that in order for me to sustain pushing and driving change at such a high level I must intentionally seek help–to create partnerships that accomplish the work. The small, yet mighty, team across the Stonewall organization has worked tirelessly to ensure the community sees an organization in change, an organization striving to make space for the most of us, an organization dedicated to making space for the various intersectional identities within our diverse queer community.
While this may be hard work it must also be sustainable work. Sustainable because as an entity we, Stonewall, are symbolically representative of a greater queer community across central-Ohio and as such we must be sustained for future generations.
Sustainability is our purpose, passion, and power.