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Why we say #ItTakesJoy

By Joanna Levitt Cea, former Director of Buen Vivir Fund

Our campaign theme — It takes joy — resonates strongly with me, after what I have learned from our grassroots partners this year. 

Why? Well, it sounds lighthearted, and it is. But, to me, it’s also as serious as it gets.

We live in a world where “philanthropy” and “development aid” and now “impact investing” too, all assume that there is a problem out there that can be fixed by an infusion of money and technical expertise.   

Our grassroots partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America show us that a huge part of the solution actually has to happen right here, in ourselves, in how we see and show up in the world. Only from this inner change can extend real institutional change that actually gets at the root of what’s wrong — with global poverty, climate change and economic crisis.

For too many of us, it’s easy to assume that colonization is over; or that racism has nothing to do with climate change and global poverty. Sure, the colonial era officially ended decades ago, or even centuries ago, depending on where you live. And yes, in many of our contexts, overtly racist laws have long been replaced with non-discriminatory ones.  

But while policy change can be (hard) won in a few years, a generations-old worldview, or an entrenched way of interacting with people across differences, or the assumptions we unconsciously carry about others–these do not automatically disappear with the signing of a new law or the giving away of a dollar.

To change these inner patterns take deep work. It takes bravery and humility — to see, to unearth, and to heal — regardless of what side of the divide that we and our ancestors may have found ourselves on.

I am honored to be part of a team that inspires this deep change, doing so with heart, rigor, and leadership by precisely those whom recent history too often relegates to the fringes.  

And I am proud to see this change leading to significant differences in the practices and bottom-lines of major philanthropic and impact investment actors; to see the brave inner work of individuals rippling out into powerful change in their institutions, creating innovative new models for resourcing grassroots-led change.

And most moving of all to me, is to see this change happening with joy!

As I continue to learn from our partners in the Buen Vivir Fund, it is only when we take care of ourselves and one other that we can bring joy, balance, and inter-connectedness to our everyday work. And only when the day-to-day work itself is whole and joyful in this way, can it actually lead to solutions that build a world of more joy and well-being for all others.

The humbling lesson I keep learning in my work with Thousand Currents and our partners is that our inner selves and interactions right here are not actually separate from the change we seek to create out there.  

To me, that is part of why we say, it takes joy.