Towards a Politics of Solidarity & Joy

Panthea Lee
24 min readDec 31, 2020

When I started to reflect on the year that will soon pass and set my intentions for the one ahead, I struggled to steady myself. Is there a word to describe feeling equal parts grief, awe, and hope?

As 2020 winds down, I’ve been meditating on the immense gratitude I hold. In the past year, so many have generously shared their truths with me, and supported me as I worked out mine. In the spirit of reciprocity and in hopes of connecting with other fellow travelers, I’m now sharing back some of my reflections — essentially, a synthesis of received wisdom. Throughout, I’ve included links to words and efforts that have informed my thinking, and a massive list of thank you’s at the end.

Before I dive in, some context: While there is no universal experience of 2020, many of us have witnessed great tragedies, navigated immense upheavals, and fought in our own ways for new possibilities. For me, this year also marked the tenth anniversary of the organization I lead, Reboot. Of course, nothing played out as planned. On March 13, we were starting to launch a new strategy. Our team had spent months reflecting on our last decade, updating our theory of change, and developing new programs and partnerships. I remember the strange sensation of emailing out our new strategy to partners while simultaneously trying to process breaking news updates about the novel coronavirus and fielding a flood of incoming messages cancelling the human gatherings and cultural events that were the pillars of our 2020 programming. I managed to get out eight announcement emails before realizing we needed to put the strategy aside and rethink everything.

Needless to say, this has not been the year any of us expected. Much of my own energy shifted toward exploring new questions and tending to my communities. In search of answers, I’ve gone knocking, literally and figuratively, on the doors of longtime comrades and new communities: artist collectives, mutual aid groups, City Halls, resistance campaigns, think tanks, public innovation networks, and international agencies. In all instances, I’ve been warmly received. For everyone was searching. Together, we tried to make sense of the chaos and how each of us could best be of service. In the process, we disproved long-held assumptions, asked tougher questions of ourselves and each other, and worked to translate our yearnings for radical new futures into present-day reality.

So here are a few things I’ve learned in the process:

1. I am rejecting a politics of empathy. I have spent the last 15 years advocating for greater empathy in powerful institutions. And I am done. My early professional training — in journalism, arts, and design — believed empathy to be both means and end. To do a job well, you needed to be empathetic. To deem an effort successful, it must have generated empathy. Because empathy begot good solutions, or so the mantra went.

With this belief, I traveled to over 30 countries. I lived and worked among communities very different from myself. As an ethnographer, I worked to intimately understand people’s lives. As an organizer, I supported communities in defending their rights. As a designer, I searched for and crafted ways to address their problems.

But major decisions were still made in big offices in the capital cities, or in even bigger offices in DC, New York, or London. In those boardrooms, armed with my photos, frameworks, reports, and slides, I’d try to convince those with power to address the injustices I’d witnessed. If I could just generate enough empathy within these decision-makers, I thought, then they’d approve the policy, allocate the funds, or greenlight the project. Generate enough empathy, I thought, and the injustices would go away.

How naive I was. For a few years now, I’d sensed that “building empathy” was a red herring, but I’d struggled to put it into words. Then I heard Aruna D’Souza nail it: “A politics based on empathy imagines justice as something to be bestowed by newly enlightened individuals on other lesser individuals and communities. A politics of empathy allows those called upon to be empathetic to remain in a position of supremacy, doling out justice as a matter of kindness.”

Since then, I’ve been exploring the pernicious uses of empathy. I’ve considered how my appeals to “the powers that be” helped reinforce the very inequities I sought to dismantle. And I’ve confronted how my own practices, and how I facilitate change, must evolve. For we cannot let justice hinge on individual decisions and acts, we must embed it within fundamental structures and norms.

Artwork: BMike. Photo: Naoto Sakamoto. Source: For Freedoms.

2. I am working to stop recolonizing myself. Being from a country that’s been colonized four times over, I’ve always been sensitive to anything that whiffs of neocolonialism. This year, due to family reasons and updates from Taiwan’s Transitional Justice Commission, I began delving more into the history of my motherland. In doing so, I was reminded of the f̶u̶t̶i̶l̶i̶t̶y̶ “limitations” of seeking justice via institutions of Western imperialism. Yet it’s a habit I haven’t been able to shake.

Take the brutal occupation of Taiwan by the Chinese Nationalists, which started in 1945 — after Churchill and Roosevelt effectively handed the island nation to Chiang Kai-Shek — and lasted for 38 years. It was the world’s longest period of martial law until Syria surpassed our record in 2002. In the post-war period, given the emergence of the Cold War, the US was dumping liberation propaganda across Taiwan. Materials advertised the American way of life and encouraged Taiwanese citizens to fight for freedom and democracy. Given that the occupation was US-backed, this was deeply ironic.

The propaganda worked. In 1947, Taiwanese activists mobilized to hold American-style town halls on how to bring about democratic regime change. In response to their organizing, the Chinese Nationalists unleashed brutal violence in what came to be known as the 228 Massacre. Activists appealed to the US and the UN for aid, but they looked the other way as tens of thousands of Taiwanese were slaughtered.

We were comrades so long as we were subjects to be indoctrinated, and collateral damage once our fights for these ideals inconvenienced the global powers. “Justice for all” was rhetorical gold, but operational anathema. I am painfully reminded of this fact on a near-daily basis. I’ve long spoken out against institutional hypocrisy, but that language still centers the institutional perspective and it still enables diplomatic debate that doesn’t cross the boundaries of polite discomfort. When we center the other side’s perspective, we can call it like it is: betrayal.

Revisiting this history helped me reflect on my complicated relationship to elite Western institutions. I have worked in, with, and alongside many — for “democracy” and “human rights” in many countries where Western intervention, as in Taiwan, has caused immense suffering. (I can now understand past work in Libya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among others, as softer sides of the neocolonial project.) There have been periods where I lost my bearings. In adapting myself to fit their norms and operate within their logics, I had in effect recolonized myself.

Today, I am clear-eyed about their role. I know how to suit up, talk the talk, and navigate their structures to advance the agendas I care about. And I’m grateful to the activists that continue to operate from within — it’s necessary, challenging, and often thankless work. But I’m now much more intentional about when I don that armour and just how much I will contort. And I’ve developed rituals to help me step out and return to myself.

3. I have grown deeply suspect of reform and innovation. Nowadays, a majority of what I get asked to work on are reform and innovation efforts. They are always complex co-creation exercises with messy politics that require strong human sensibilities — my fortes. While I’ve loved this work, increasingly, I’m coming to see much of it as ways to co-opt detractors and push forward minimum-viable redressal of grievances, thus insulating the commissioning institutions from further criticism. And relative to the efforts for which the institutions are criticized, these efforts are almost always poorly resourced. Of course, this isn’t always the case. I’ve had the honour to work on some truly groundbreaking and principled efforts. But more often than not, it is so.

This year, I’ve kept returning to Angela Davis’ warning about reform: “The problem with reform is that it often renders the institutions themselves more permanent.” The same holds for the other side of the coin: “innovation”; the difference between them is simply whether the impetus is framed positively or negatively.

These efforts usually carry two dangerous assumptions: i) they assume the centrality and futurity of the commissioning institution, and ii) they see the solutions they will devise as paths to growth and/or consolidation of power. Almost never do they ask the question: Should the institution be in this line of work in the first place? And, more fundamentally, should this institution continue to exist?

I use “institution” here, but I also see this dynamic consistently across smaller grassroots efforts, movement groups, and nonprofits. Many start with the earnest intention of “working ourselves out of business”, but once momentum picks up, human nature takes over. The feeling of being needed can be intoxicating, and fuels the desire to protect, sustain, and grow that feeling — even when doing so may, in fact, run counter to the original mission.

So the next time you’re in a conversation about a reform or innovation effort, ask yourself: Will “reform” address the structural issues here, or will it just distract from them? Is “innovation” merely an attempt to grasp for organizational relevance, even if we’re not suited to this work? If we suspend self-interest, how honestly might the time and money (for expensive studies, consultants, and deliberations) be better allocated?

I recognize this is much easier said than done. We’ve been conditioned to conflate self-worth with “having the answer”, and no one wants to hear that the path to the change they seek might require them getting out of the way. But this is a real conversation that every person, organization, and sector needs to be having. This is why I am so thankful for the foresight and leadership of Cassie Robinson and Iona Lawrence around Stewarding Loss to help nonprofits gracefully wind down.

4. I am learning to harness my anger. This year, the intensity and expansiveness of the uprisings for racial justice brought up a lot for me. It all erupted, with a force I could no longer ignore. I finally let go of all the energy it had taken to compartmentalize, to laugh off joining meetings as a board member and being mistaken for the secretary, to shrug off having counterparts turn to male colleagues for decisions despite being the head of delegation, to “get over” decision after decision that opted for the politically safe path over the morally right one. Once the bandaid ripped, everything came gushing out.

I’ve always believed that anger can be a constructive animating force — youthful anger, after all, was what led me to start an organization at age 27. But I’d never explored how best to channel my anger. And despite constantly railing about problems in the world, whenever I myself faced injustice, I’d always brush it off. Then in July, I saw AOC’s post on the speech she gave in response to Ted Yoho calling her a fucking bitch. A key motivation for the speech, she explained, was learning that standing up for yourself is a way to break the cycle of abuse for every person after you who would’ve been subject to the same.

I realized that my pain — whether from microaggressions or gross transgressions — should not be brushed aside. And so, with a lot of support, I came to terms with a deeply abusive long-term relationship I’d recently escaped. I grappled with the histories that normalized the suffering of generations of women in my family, and that expected us to abet our own dehumanization.

I realized that my rage over the shortcomings of my space are valid and deserve serious consideration. Efforts to placate or shame my anger — ”oh, look at you, getting so passionate again…” or “we’ve been doing this work for so long, how can you still care so much?” — were attempts to get me to settle for less. And those that tried always came from positions of comfort and privilege; they could afford to be less angry. But I won’t give up my anger. I am choosing to own and use it.

In this work, Soraya Chemaly has been one of several incredible guides. In Rage Becomes Her, she writes, “Anger has a bad rap, but it is one of the most hopeful and forward thinking of all our emotions. It begets transformation, manifesting our passion and keeping us invested in the world. It is a rationale and emotional response to trespass, violation, and moral disorder. It bridges the divide between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought’ to be, between a difficult past and an improved possibility.”

I believe we should all recall the youthful anger that first drove us. We should tap into it, not let it go. Yes, we are all exhausted and jaded, but that’s not an excuse to ostrich or to settle into increasingly abstract theoretical debates. It’s an invitation to explore other avenues. Let us use anger as a bridge. And let us harness its hopeful, propellant energy.

Artwork: Garrett Bradley. Photo: Jonathan Dean. Source: For Freedoms.

5. I am learning to listen to my body, and leaning into embodied practices. To work through my anger, I had to work through the site where it was stored: my body. I had to first learn how to release the pain.

This meant confronting and tending to past traumas I’d waved off. It meant realizing just how much I had left my body in order to keep on keeping on. I joined a yearlong somatic abolitionism group (based on the teachings of Resmaa Menakem), with a loving community of other racialized humans, that helped me tune in to the everyday pain I’d previously dulled and ignored. I read Staci K Haynes’ revelatory The Politics of Trauma, and am now working with a somatic practitioner. As I continue my study and practice, I’m finally grasping, deep in my being, the profound implications of somatics for social justice work. I encourage everyone to learn more in this realm — and, where possible, through physical practice — but I’ll try to summarize the links I see.

In short: People develop protective, automatic responses to oppressive social conditions and to traumas both violent and quotidian. We might, for example, dissociate, numb ourselves, or become smaller in order to appease those that threaten us. These instincts are learned and culturally shaped; over time, they become automatic and encoded in our soma. Left unaddressed, our senses of connection and of dignity begin to slip away — in short, our very humanity is threatened. Unsurprisingly, these patterns are more prevalent and more intense in populations of marginalized identities. But as we all live in this deeply violent world, I suspect that these responses are within (and harming) all of us.

Healing our personal traumas are thus critical acts of resistance, and are essential in our collective fights for liberation. For me, the 20-year partnership between the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Generative Somatics to support NDWA members — many of whom are immigrant women of colour and who experience higher rates of sexual assault — makes a strong case for why we must invest in healing and in developing embodied leaders.

Once I understood what the somatics community meant by embodied justice, I couldn’t help but think how shallow most social sector efforts to “empower marginalized communities” seemed in comparison. Knowing your rights and fighting for legislative wins are important, yes, but having all humans be able to stand firm in our most basic human right seems nothing short of revolutionary. For overcoming oppression, it is both means and end.

And yet, even in the global development and humanitarian sectors, where we often work with populations living through prolonged conflict or extreme trauma, there is still limited attention paid to trauma-sensitive care, let alone a deep, holistic approach to healing and empowerment. This is an area I’m keen to explore more, and I’d love to connect with others doing the same.

Artwork & Source: For Freedoms.

6. I am embracing joy for all as the ultimate struggle. This year, I got into the habit of starting my mornings with poetry. The collection My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet, one of my favourite poets and community-builders, became a constant companion. Her piece “Black Joy” is a stunning meditation on its eponymous theme, and its final lines are now etched into me:

“our joy will astonish the world cuz joy
true joy
is justice.”

In all the strategies I’ve designed and all the initiatives I’ve launched, joy has never been a founding principle or goal. I now see this as a grave error. We talk of human empowerment and liberation, but we measure success in eyeballs and clicks, in the passage of bills that simply stall the further erosion of rights, and in productivity growth when there is neither need or room to grow.

Given that manufactured anxiety is what keeps the capitalist endeavour humming, joy is, unsurprisingly, an unpopular political strategy. The 2008 financial crisis ushered in some handwaving and halfhearted attempts to push for new metrics of progress (e.g. happiness), a fight that lives on in the wellbeing economy movement, best exemplified by New Zealand. But there’s so much more to do.

In this work, I’m indebted to the Wide Awakes, whose insistence on civic joy as an organizing principle has been instructive and whose regular disorientations have been a balm for my spirit; and to St. James Joy whose exuberant block parties (including the last of 2020 tonight!) helped us remember joy and mutual care through the pandemic. And I’ve been deeply inspired by The Laundromat Project, a pioneering force in using love and joy as animating forces to build community and rewrite BIPOC histories.

When I map the theory of change around this work — drawing out the messy links between problems, audiences, outcomes intermediate and long-term, and on and on — I get dizzy. It is not linear, but it is thrilling. It is the ultimate fight: to, despite the odds, reclaim and defend joy for all.

Artwork: Kelly Duggan. Source: “Time for a New Social Contract”, States of Change.

7. I am stepping into my role as a translator between worlds. For a long time, I’ve been told that I’m too woo woo for the policy crowd, too wonky for the art crowd, too radical for the institutional set, and too incrementalist for the activist set. I’ve struggled to find my place, but I’ve come to see my differences as strengths not limitations.

More and more, I am embracing my role as translator between disparate communities — and even among ostensible allies. For it never ceases to amaze me how quick those with common goals are to see each other as threats, as competition for members, resources, or flagship ideas. We waste so much energy jockeying for a narrow conception of power, when there is space and need for all our magic. As a facilitator, my role is to help us see and rally around our points of unity, and to embrace and leverage our points of difference.

To do this, I’m increasingly cross-pollinating methods — accusations of “too woo woo” or “too wonky” be damned. In the fall, I led a workshop on understanding our roles in the global fight for justice. The audience skewed white Western European, so I knew that addressing privilege and knowing when to step back would need to be key themes. This crowd also came from the policy and think tank worlds: people paid to live in their heads. Recognizing it wouldn’t be an easy discussion, I started with a five-minute breath and visualization exercise to ground us. Some folks were skeptical — especially when I got to the bit about imagining ourselves as trees drinking up the Earth’s energy — but they went along. When we opened our eyes again to meet each other, the mood was different. The conversation, while still hard, was deep and flowing.

I got several messages after about what a transformative experience it had been. This brought me great joy. Since then, I’ve brought more of my head-centered analytical exercises to heart-centered movement spaces, and more of my formal facilitation practices to informal community spaces. I’d been nervous to combine practices, but I’ve since recognized it’s essential. We need head and heart, openness and structure. Communities that lean heavily on one modality may not know that they’re missing others, but most are happy to be introduced to balancing practices. And then everything starts flowing with greater ease.

Source: “Driving Transformative Collaboration Masterclass”, Reboot.

8. I am unlearning what “power” means, and exploring how we harness different types of power to win the world we deserve. Much of my work has been at the intersection of communities, activists, and “powerful institutions”. But I’ve been questioning what exactly we mean by “powerful” — most of the time, we’re simply referring to concentrations of economic and political capital. There is so much we miss in this shallow formulation of power.

“Powerful” institutions by design struggle to be generous, creative, adaptive, and consistently values-driven. Yet we accept the central roles they play in setting our public agendas. Even most dogged activists focus on influencing the decisions of “powerful” institutions within the rigid frameworks they’ve set, rather than on reimagining our world anew. As a result, we face an imaginary crisis on what true alternatives might look like.

But blaming “powerful” institutions for not being creative and human-centered misses the point. They were not set up to be. Their rules, politics, and funding structures literally dictate the opposite — meaning that most of their solutions are, well, rather flaccid. To create solutions we can get excited about, we need to engage those that are set up to be creative and human-centered.

Our visionary artists and writers, with their gifts of radical imagination, can help us see beyond our current realities. Our bravest activists, with their unwavering moral clarity, can help us set the bar for solutions that protect and nurture our humanity. Our most creative community groups, with their powers of loving generosity, can help us map out how to implement radical alternatives. The models exist. They’ve been pioneered by visionaries who have lacked economic and political power, and who’ve been harmed by mainstream solutions.

From there, our think tanks and researchers, with their intellectual rigour, can help us define paths to seizing this future. And “powerful” institutions, with their infrastructure and resources, can then set policies and organize markets to realize these agendas.

But the current norm is literally the reverse: “powerful” institutions set the agenda, and we fight on the fringes for crumbs. It’s just not good enough. If we want a world that is loving, joyous, and kind, we must give key tasks to those who are most structurally fit to illuminate that path. And then we must line up behind their visions.

This is the framework I’ve been using to articulate this approach. It started as a hypothesis, and I’ve been testing and refining it with friends around the world. As we continue exploring ways to make it real, I’m increasingly convinced of its transformative potential. I’m excited to continue testing and refining it in the coming year, and to usher in new experiments to dream, shape, and build anew.

If you made it this far, thank you. This is a blur of thoughts from the past year, but I hope that in putting this out, friends and colleagues — some who I’ve retreated from and who have kindly given me the space to wander — can better understand where I’ve been and where I’m headed.

Source: The Oracle for Transfeminist Technologies.

In the coming year, these are the questions I hope to explore together:

  • How do we advance and practice active democracy, and put meaningful heft behind people-powered efforts? Democracy is too often misunderstood as what happens in the theater of politics. There is an insane amount of energy invested in elections versus in the actual functioning of democracy. How do we harness the creativity and care seen in daily small-d democratic practices, and combine them with big-d ones (e.g. representative deliberative processes) to win structural change? How can we bring these practices to questions of global equity and governance?
  • How do we transform the operating logics of “powerful” institutions, from a politics of empathy to one of solidarity? Those with the mandate and resources to advance equity and justice often believe they have the answers, and the resources they spend on research, fancy frameworks, and “coming up with the answer” can be ludicrous. But institutions are made of humans and, at the end of the day, we’re talking about people’s sense of selves. This is also precious, and deserves careful stewardship. So how might we help individuals and institutions shift their roles, in ways that both attend to legitimate personal turmoil and stay true to our ambitions for structural equity?
  • What does it mean to truly decolonize development? And recognizing both terms are problematic, how do we genuinely hear what justice and joy means for different communities, and organize ourselves to support different visions? If we accept that capitalist greed and imperialism are key drivers of suffering in the majority world, how should the role of humanitarian and development institutions evolve if they are to honestly serve their missions?
  • How do we build global solidarity around our collective fights for liberation? Not traveling this year has enabled me to serve the communities and struggles around me far more than in my previous 11 years in New York. For this, I’m deeply grateful. I’ve learned so much about community, organizing, and mutual care in the last year. Yet, I remember the reason I am in the US: America has an outsized influence on the rest of the world, and American policy and lifestyles cause an enormous amount of suffering globally. So how do we both invest in the communities around us (whose sorrows and joys are visible and salient) and those around the world, whose sorrows we may not see but for whom our choices have profound impacts? What does meaningful global solidarity look like? And what kind of global solidarity is possible across divisions that are practical, and across divisions that (greedy, hysterical) political and media systems choose to exaggerate?

Admittedly, I have more questions than answers. But that’s okay. I put these out in hopes of connecting with others exploring similar questions, especially those in the majority world. I know we can only progress in community, and I’d love to grapple and build together.


To decompress from 2020, I turned to art. Two shows I’ve seen in the last week give me hope about what’s ahead. Both are glorious reclamations of their respective lineages: African-American and Indigenous craft traditions.

Artwork: Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McGeever. Source: Gagosian.

The first was Theaster Gates’ gorgeous “Black Vessel” at the Gagosian. Gates is a brilliant artist and activist — in 2010, he founded the Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit focused on cultural-driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities.

His father was a roofer, and he’d always admired the skill and precision that went into roofing. For this show, Gates questioned why the material of his father’s profession, tar, was never seen as worthy of art. “I don’t know how oil paint is more important than tar, and who decided this,” he said in a recent interview. “Tar’s viscosity, like oil paint, will run if you heat it. Tar is messy, it’s sticky, it don’t come off — it attaches itself to things, it has a bad rap.” And so this room (pictured above) is, for Gates, “what happens when the working class has something to say about painting”.

At the gallery, woman in her 70s told me the paintings reminded her of Rothko. Personally, I much prefer Gates to Rothko, but we had a good chat about the distinctions between “high art” and “craft”. About who gets to assign value, and who profits from these arbitrary delineations.

I also spent a good hour lingering over the piece Walking Prayer, where Gates rebound 2600 historical books on Black experience and embossed their spines with gold fragments of thought. Through my movement, I could dip into different experiences or take in the entire symphony.

Artwork: Jeffrey Gibson. Photo: Jonathan Dorado. Source: New York Times.

Jeffrey Gibson’s “When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks” at the Brooklyn Museum, while aesthetically very different, explores similar themes. Gibson, an artist of Choctaw and Cherokee descent, was invited to curate a show that reexamines pieces from the museum’s collection, and combines it with his own work. The result is thrilling.

Gibson reclaims Indigenous beadwork traditions, which are too often reduced to stereotypical geometric patterns. Some Indigenous communities continue to produce these to play to consumer expectations of Native art and, in the process, displace their own creative yearnings. Gibson rejects this. He builds upon and queers beading traditions to create stunning new portraits of Indigenous history and power.

(Note: It was interesting to see how the Brooklyn Museum is acknowledging how Indigenous archival materials have historically been used without consent to support racist or damaging policies, and how it’s now trying to right these wrongs. I’m keen to see how more museums will address their problematic histories.)

Both artists are recovering and reimagining traditions that whiter, richer, and more “powerful” arbiters of taste have tried to diminish. They are overturning how their cultures are represented in the canon and, in doing so, enriching how we all understand our world.

As I marveled at their offerings, I felt hope. Hope that we are inching our way towards a future that doesn’t just grudgingly accept diversity, equity, and inclusion, but that embraces the exhilarating majesty of pluralism. Hope that in doing so, we can unlock grace that has previously been inaccessible, but that our world so desperately needs.

And so I close the year simultaneously disoriented and clear-eyed, and so full of hope. Active, muscular, chosen hope. Hope that is grounded in dazzling visions for our collective future, and buoyed by the power of dreamers, truth-tellers, and fighters who are doing the work to get us there.

Finally, in writing these reflections, I felt myself bursting with gratitude. I owe a great debt to everyone that supported my explorations and experimentations this year. That welcomed my questions; created or held space for me; and that wondered, marched, organized, and built with me: Troels Steenholdt Heiredal, Samir Doshi, Candy Chang, James Reeves, Aarathi Krishnan, Tricia Wang, Georgia Frances King, Michael Lee, Jennifer Lee, Jessica Lee, Roury Switzer, Trevor Lee, Ellen Lee, Beza Seife, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Cassie Robinson, Tina Layton, Giulio Quaggiotto, Andrew Haupt, Adam Talsma, Georgette Stewart, Ijeoma Ofonagoro, Corey Chao, Yop Rwang Pam, Abayomi Akinbo, Mohammed Maikudi, Sadiq Idris, Jenchat Bishen, Maria Unawu, Seyi Goke, Jeremy Evans, Ian Pottash, Nathan Gold, Alyssa Kropp, Laura Freschi, Kisha Bwenge, Adam Parker, Nadav Green, Amira El-Sayed, Josh Powell, Josh Lerner, Chris Unwin, Kate Krontiris, Immy Kaur, Johannes Weidenmueller, Alex Sardar, Josh Haynes, Scott Culley, Chioma Agwuebo, Kate Reed Petty, Oliver Barancyzk, Garnette Cadogan, Rose Longhurst, Peter Backus, Katherine Maher, Ash Upreti, Ceci Maher, David Sangokoya, Rahul Chandran, Che-Wei Wang, Taylor Levy, Bitsy Bentley, Kenyatta Cheese, Mari Nakano, Sabrina Hersi Issa, Alexa Clay, Ric Grefe, Robert Diggs, Kemi Ilesanmi, Ashima Aggarwal, George Suttles, Suzy Delvalle, Ariane Conrad, Jon Alexander, Kat Townsend, Claudia Chwalisz, Marci Harris, Anthony Zacharzewski, Tiago Peixoto, Fatou Wurie, Kidus Asfaw, Emmanuelle Compingt, Kate Mulloy, Evan Wheeler, Stuart Campo, Sarah Orton-Vipond, Zosia Sztykowski, Kate Gage, Josh Nussbaum, Mahender Nathan, Moritz Faloota, Rose Jackson, Dave Algoso, Janet Haven, Adrienne Schmoeker, Kelly Jin, Matthew Taylor, Lina Srivastava, Micah Sifry, TTCat, JD D’Cruz, Jesper Christiansen, Nicole Barling-Duke, James Oriel, Brenton Caffin, Brian Stout, Abeer Tahlak, Lara Penin, Heather Lord, Sunny Bates, Sarah Milstein, Mariah Peebles, Nathaniel Heller, Michael Silberman, Ani Phoebe Hao, Maurice Otieno, Juliet Barbara, Shanny Spraus-Reinhardt, Sarah Sayeed, Wendy Trull, Sanjiv Rao, Mutale Nkonde, Gillian Caldwell, Eli Pariser, Felipe Estefan, Nisha Baliga, Betsy MacLean, Christine Gaspar, Stan Getui, Vinod Rajasekaran, Jason Pearman, Bianca Wylie, Yago Bermejo Abati, Anoush Tatevossian, Ed Casabian, Michelle Shevin, Eshanthi Ranasinghe, Phoebe Tickell, Dan Fibiger, Leeor Wild, Yas Yeganegi, Julia Loktev, Charles Landry, Robyn Bennett, Roope Mokka, Outi Kuittinen, Dunola Oladapo, Adam Kahane, George Aye, Rob Fabricant, Allan Chochinov, Taya Darch, Nate Matias, Ruby Lerner, Lena Bheroo, Saba Shafi, Max Stearns, Sabrina Dorsainvil, Jorge Munguia, Ania Calderon, Stefaan Verlhust, Michael Jarvis, Paula Rossiasco, Defne Ayas, Carrie Oppenheimer, Tim McKee, Erica Kochi, Gabor Cselle, Chris Fabian, Marija Manojlovic, Osione Itegboje, Nick Barham, Rodney Evans, Ukachi Arinzeh, Lee Fang, Alix Dunn, Hanna Thomas Uose, Matt Browner-Hamlin, Jed Miller, Lauren Serota, Alan Hudson, Blair Glencorse, Duncan Edwards, Cathy Shutt, Jethro Petit, Azucena Moran, Ben Ramalingam, Monica Sandri, J Bob Alotta, Hanan Elmasu, David Sasaki, Pat Scheid, Julia Keseru, Zara Rahman, Lindsay Cole, Mugdha Patil, Lola Adewunmi, Tahir Sherriff, Justine Ludwig, Jean-Noel Ben Hamou, Rachael Gallagher, Aravinda Ananda, Satyena Ananda, Joseph Rotella, Suneeta Kaimal, Sean McDonald, Kym Chambers, John Maritim, Timothy Kiprono, Vincent Bartoo, Marife Ballesteros, Justine Diokno-Sicat, Aubrey Tabuga, Coco Alcuaz, Samhir Vasdev, Milica Begovic, Charley Johnson, Erin Mazursky, Brian Hioe, Catherine Chou, John Crowley, Steve Davenport, Philip Cowell, Andrew Shea, Mahika Halepete, Enrique Mendizabal, Kathrin Frauscher, Mike Touchton, Brian Wampler, Lisa Norton, and many, many more. I have learned so much about mutual care and courageous solidarity from each of you.

And I have so much love for all the amazing communities I’m lucky enough to be a part of: The Laundromat Project, People Powered, the RSA, Development Gateway, Heal Haus, Rooted (led by the wondrous Karine Bell), Department of Dreams, Bed-Stuy Strong (especially Chris Xu, Sarah Mathews, and Dianne Morales), DSA-NYC (especially Offer Egozy, Aashna Desai), States of Change (literally the whole dang crew!), the humanitarian ethics gang (and community-builder extraordinaire Linda Raftree), the Wide Awakes, Allied Media, Untitled, Future of Good, Creative Bureaucracy, Starseed Sanctuary, OECD Future of Democracy, and Open Heroines. I’m endlessly grateful to be held and supported by so many incredible communities, and I’m excited to discover and make more connections between us in the year to come.



Panthea Lee

writer, activist, and transdisciplinary strategist / designer / facilitator in service of life and liberation