Reflections from the field: Building healthier movements through more inclusive, democratic and healthy organizations…

From Sweet Livity’s research and work, I see the possibility of shifting the culture within movements and within movement organizations to become more inclusive, democratic and healthy. An important area of focus is helping movement leaders to focus on relationships, which influences effectiveness and well-being at the personal, organizational and collective (e.g., movement) levels. Cooperative, clear, and caring relationships are a powerful antidote to the stress and dysfunction that occurs when the organizational culture and relationships become muddled or “toxic.”

From my professional and lived experiences, I can attest to the irony that those of us working passionately to eliminate oppression and promote equity for all people are also standing at the intersection of multiple internal and external oppressions based on cultural differences of language, age, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexuality, citizenship status and geographic boundaries. These oppressions manifest in the unhealthy ways that many social justice activists relate to each other and to members of the communities in which we live and work.

Tomorrow, Sweet Livity will be facilitating a leadership retreat with Power U Center for Social Change in Miami, Florida. Part of their agenda is to explore what it means to create space for youth to lead equally with adults within a multi-generational space. As for Power U, now is a pivotal movement moment in which movement organizations can claim a stronger stance and space to lead the work to shift how movement leaders relate with their staff, volunteers, donors and constituents in ways that ensure everyone’s authentic voice is heard, understood, affirmed and included in the work of winning campaigns for social justice.

To learn more about Power U, an example of organizations that Sweet Livity supports through its customized capacity building and wellness services, please visit

All my love,

Diana Marie Lee