This week’s organizer spotlight features Ashley Daniels, an organizer with the Carolina Federation (and participant in the 2021 virtual WiLD Academy):

1) What have you learned from “falling off the bike” as a leader?

I’ve learned (repeatedly) that the fissures and deep disrepair experienced in organizing is 9 times out of 10 caused by isolation. The times that I’ve felt inadequate or unbelonging to a movement was because, in isolation, I had begun to create stories about how others might be assessing me. Likewise, the times that I’ve connected with people who had been removed from the group, they were often shameful and overly apologetic, feeling like they had failed the cause when really I was just happy to see them.

The only reason any of this matters at all is Love. We want our people to have homes, to access healthcare, to be free from prisons because we Love each other. Love and human connection has to be the center we repeatedly and relentlessly root ourselves in. This is something I am continually learning in leadership and in life.

2) What sustains you? Where do you get the energy to keep going?

Learning history feels affirming and even rapturous to me. Sometimes I think about my ancestors who worked, prayed, and held a dream of hope that translated into my life. Thinking about my family who made a way for me often humbles and strengthens me and sometimes moves me to tears.

Learning about chosen ancestors—Zora Neale Hurston, George Henry White, Abraham Galloway, John Brown, William Lloyd Garrison—fills my heart with Love and fire. They came across dark days, sometimes dark decades, and made the decision to move forward. When I get down, sometimes I might wander down a history rabbit-hole and I usually emerge sparked and inspired.

I also gain restoration from the outdoors. I feel joy walking in the woods, in the park, and spending time at the beach.

3) How will you be bold in your organizing work this year?

I’m going to choose courage and be open to creativity. I’ve had ideas and desires I’ve held for years but never moved on, so this year I’m going to stop waiting on the perfect moment or the perfect feeling and instead opt for wholeness instead of perfection.