There’s vulnerability in admitting you’re tired in a society that constantly promotes grind culture, hustle and busyness.
And there’s also power.
My team is tired. I am tired. We are a 100% BIPOC-led and staffed organization of artists, immigrants, and children of immigrants. We are queer, gender expansive, and fight most days to resist buckling under the pressure of social norms that would have us believe that we are only valuable when burnt out, spent, undone. My colleagues represent dimensions of diversity, which is to say, each of us fights for every sliver of joy we have in our lives.
As a first-time Executive Director, I’ve observed the ingenuity of our Production team, who figured out hybrid programming. I experienced our Program staff inviting young people to come as you are through dialogue and writing exercises that elevate their fears and futures. Our Marketing and Communications team lifts up emergent artists’ voices and tells stories of how artists are builders of new worlds. I’ve witnessed our Advancement, HR, Finance, and Accounting staff work with great vision and strategy in an economically uncertain landscape to make our internal systems strong for the months and years ahead.
Collectively, we’ve done all this while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic that’s had a disproportionate impact on the very identities and communities that we are part of, and serve. We’ve experienced the racial revelations of 2020 only to see little meaningful change happen. And like you, we read the news and see the constant assault on the rights of women, gender non-conforming siblings, our LGTBQIA+ community, and so many who are ignored and cast away by our society.
It’s tiring, now, even to list our tiredness.
And we are poets.
So, we believe change towards justice and collective liberation is imminent–our namesake. But this requires creativity, which first demands safety and space.
So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to rest. Starting Friday, July 21st- August 5th, the Youth Speaks team will be out of office, or offscreen as it were. Youth Speaks is not unique in offering time off during the summer, but we are proud to be aligned with The Nap Ministry which teaches a framework of “rest is resistance” and Scalawag Magazine which also instituted an office closure to invest in their staff’s well-being.
When we regroup in August, I can’t wait to hear what excited, entranced, or entertained our team. What did you create? What ocean made you forget? Who did you meet, by surprise? And did they inspire you to remember with your hands, as well as with your words? In the second and third weeks of August, we’ll be taking time to connect with each other on a personal and professional level and to prepare for the new program year. Our team will be back to respond to invitations, actions, and collaborations after August 19. We thank you for the space your patience affords our incredibly hard-working team during one of the most challenging seasons of our shared history.
I hope you get a moment of rest during these summer months. We need each and everyone one of us at our best to face the challenges ahead, and to live in the power and optimism that this moment demands.
We’ll see you on the other side of our rest.