Voices from the Ground

November 14, 2022

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This is a critical moment for the world and for our movements. Heightened anti-immigrant, anti-Black, misogynist and anti-LGBTQI violence; increased government surveillance and policing; and the closing of civil societies are all part of an intense conservative backlash that calls on us to respond on all fronts.

Frontline organizers are facing daily attacks on the dignity, safety and basic survival of their people. How do we hold depression and grief from the deportation of loved ones or the loss of community members to police violence? How do we work through generational trauma from oppression and war? How do we confront and transform histories of medical abuse on queer, trans, disabled and incarcerated bodies? The list of state and communal violences perpetrated on communities goes on and on. As survivors of violence, many movement organizers are working to discover what transformation can look like when we center political, spiritual, physical, emotional and psychic wellbeing as integral to our communities, movements and the world we are trying to build.

Over the last decade, we at Astraea have witnessed and been moved by the emergence and rise of healing justice work—resiliency and survival practices that center the collective safety and wellbeing of communities—as an integral part of our fight for collective liberation. We have learned from our grantee partners how these practices and traditions can be tools for building power, and how they can deepen and sustain the long and hard work of movement-building. Rooted in their wisdom, we continue to work to integrate healing justice as a core aspect of our grantmaking and accompaniment to organizations and movements, both in the U.S. and globally. We are also increasingly working to support the holistic security—integrated strategies for physical, digital and psychosocial wellbeing and collective care—of grantee partners. Both frameworks hold wellness, resilience and sustainability at their core, with holistic security specifically intervening on safety and healing justice seeking to confront and transform generational trauma. They differ but are inextricably intertwined. While this publication focuses on healing justice, we include some information about holistic security as it resonates closely with this work.

Healing Justice: Building Power, Transforming Movements doesn’t seek one answer or definition of healing justice, but opens the door for there to be a multitude of ways for it to be understood and applied—always rooted in place and grounded in cultural and political context. We spoke with grantee partners, community advisors and peer funders to harvest what has been learned and what can be gained from this work. We lift up their brilliance, resiliency and creativity in elevating and sustaining it over so many years. From their stories and learning, we hope that we as funders can grow and learn ourselves—unpacking and unraveling our assumptions of what healing and safety can look like within movements, and better equipping ourselves to answer the call of resourcing this work for the long haul.

Together with our partners at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, we are deeply honored to offer this report as a resource for our funder colleagues to learn more about healing justice work. It is an invitation to each one of us to step more fully into it.

In solidarity,

Brenda Salas Neves, Senior Program Officer
Cara Page, Program Consultant
Sarah Gunther, Director of Philanthropic Partnerships

October 18, 2022