Your NameLaura Lehman
Email AddressEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Cohort AssignmentCohort B (Americas)
1. What do you see as your primary work at this stage of your life?

I'm currently working to extricate myself and heal from systems that harm communities and the planet-- particularly organizations, policies, and efforts that claim to do good but are upholding the status quo instead of addressing problems at their root (i.e., an extractive culture and economy built on racial capitalism). I see my primary work right now as getting into right relationship with the systems I exist within-- myself, my communities, local ecosystems-- and directing my energy to fundamentally shifting how I/we think, live, and work.

For paid work, I partner with funders and advocacy organizations on research, evaluation, and learning projects to learn from their work and strategize moving forward (currently freelance). A lot of this work is focused on health equity and social determinants of health, and is deeply affected by power dynamics that hinder organizations’ abilities to achieve real change. My personal work that grounds me in reality and purpose is mutual aid and grassroots organizing in my community, a work-share with my local organic farm, and cultivating a writing practice.

2. What role do you see as yours to play?

I see myself as a connector, facilitator, and thinker working to get to the root of the problems and imagine alternatives. I aspire to be more of a weaver between movements, funders, and other actors so that local communities have the power and resources they need to determine their own paths, sustain their own needs, and ultimately change how we live from the ground up.

3. What goals or aims do you have in regard to the above?

I would like to be more targeted in my work, ensure that it aligns with my values, and find new projects/develop new partnerships to strengthen my practice and ultimately contribute to greater impact. I don’t want to spend my energy fighting old systems, but to focus on building new ones (or regenerating old).

I am also working to develop a consistent creative process, giving myself the time and space to write.

4. Where do you feel your next arenas for personal growth are?

Equanimity, inner peace, and liberation so that I am able to bring that to my work in all things. Becoming a more patient listener and a stronger facilitator, releasing control and giving things the time and space they need while also able to process them / help them emerge and move forward.

5. And for professional growth?

Same as above, plus new projects that will expose me to different types of partners and grow my practice. I want to get better at translating between groups and finding opportunities within complexity. I have mostly worked with foundations and advocacy organizations over the last several years, and I'm interested in expanding beyond that. I'm also interested in doing my own research and writing, but that isn't fully defined.

6. What have you invested in to get you where you are?

- 2+ years in a rural village in the Dominican Republic deepening my understanding of what it means to be part of a community.
- Many volunteer hours working with communities in the US, mostly focused on migrants and those affected by the US prison system.
- A graduate degree focused on "sustainable development," but which was much more focused on upholding the status quo.
- 6+ years of working with funders and organizations on social justice work
- Study-- lots of reading and thinking and writing.

7. What fields of learning and which thinkers have been important in your life?

- Social justice movements: adrienne maree brown -- Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism, Holding Change
- Scholars/writers on labor, inequality, power, and social change: David Graeber, Rebecca Solnit, Eula Biss, etc.
- Ecology / Indigenous science: Robin Wall Kimmerer -- Braiding Sweetgrass
- Many other writers focused on ecology/environment/psychology

8. Can you frame your philosophy or cosmology of life? What role(s) do humans play in it?

Cyclical and interdependent. Humans are one species within the system, but one that has dominated the environment to the detriment of most others. We can play a negative or a positive role. It currently feels like net negative, but we also can fix, regenerate, heal, cultivate. This is why I am taking this course—because I want to orient my energy and vision towards regeneration and join a multi-disciplinary network of people doing this work.

Date CreatedJune 7, 2022