Reflect and Strengthen is a ten-year old, small grassroots organization out of Dorchester (near Boston) made up of young, working-class women who are trying to change their community. They’re not just going for changing the community in terms of getting equitable laws changed and passed or through protesting and demanding change–they want holistic change and are healing trauma as well as bringing creative expression to their neighborhood. In other words, they are working toward transformative social change.
When I think about what Dorchester was like when I was living in Boston years ago—a rougher, working class, people of color neighborhood–I get a glimpse of the kind of spirit that may have developed in these young women. In any case, their resilience and perseverance and the changes they are asking for reflect the kind of spirit they all must have.
What inspired them to create Reflect and Strengthen is beautifully noted on their Web site:
“There was no other space for us to heal from the trauma that threatened to destroy us. We needed a space where we could think critically about the root causes of our oppression and unite to gain the skills and power to affect change across our community. We were collectively mourning the murder of a brother, the absence of many of our fathers, and the death of two of our infants due to lack of proper health care. We struggled with our histories of abuse and rape; the pain of watching loved ones fall into drugs and prostitution; and anger stoked by public schools that miseducated us.
“In dealing with these attacks on our humanity, we found scant community-based resources. It was glaringly apparent there was a systemic lack of support for the young working-class women, immigrant women, women of color, queer women, and teenage women who made up R&S. We created a space where we could dig way beneath the superficial impact of direct-service organizations.”
The values of Reflect and Strengthen are notable and inspiring. Of course, they include things you might expect to see on any progressive nonprofit site, anti-racism, leadership development, restorative justice. And they also include, love, sisterhood, equity, and celebrating life, none of which you can genuinely come at without doing truly deep personal work and transformation.
Dorchester should be proud.
Read more about Reflect and Strengthen