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Getting real about what you need, and what somebody else might need too.

As cities around the country grapple with how public safety can be protected and sustained through social services rather than guns and batons, I'm hearing a crucial shift in language from enforcement to support, from control to healing. This shift is well-overdue in justice work, and it echoes an important shift in how we approach our own bodies and lives as well. Are we clamping down or nurturing them?


This week, the Nashville Scene reported on how Gideon's Army, a local non-profit, is reaching into historically Black neighborhoods and underserved schools with restorative tactics to heal communities and prevent violence before it occurs. They send out teams of trained Violence Interrupters to patrol the streets, de-escalate volatile situations, help families get social services, and even plan funerals when necessary. Gideon's Army was also one of the most pivotal resources available in the aftermath of the EF-4 tornado that tore through the city in early-March.


One volunteer, a local restaurant owner and chef named Mic True, told the Scene, "We feed the community, we engage with the community, we pay community bills. We meet you where you at, and we make sure that you have what you need, no matter what it is. It ain’t even about violence. It’s just about, what do you need? Do you need a ham sandwich or a hug? Whatever it is, we’re there for you.”


Healing is rooted in truth and kindness. I'm no criminal justice expert, but I know healing when I see it—truth and kindness too—and I know our bodies and communities are in need of all of those things as we build momentum for the road we are currently on. So I'm thinking about getting real and building reinforcements—in social justice work and in our own bodies and minds. What do you need right now to feel energized and steady? A sandwich or a hug? A conversation with a friend, a quick workout, or an extra hour of sleep?


Without feeling like you have to take action, what comes to mind if you pause a few times this week to discover what you need? 


And if you look around at your community, what is one thing somebody else needs that you might be able to provide? 


Take note of what you find. If you're inspired to do something about it, go for it! But, overall, take a minute to reassess where you are and what comes next. Little bits of kindness and truth can't help but carry you through and bring us all closer in the long run.


Wishing you a beautiful week,


Sarah


Last week, we saw the rights of gay and transgender folks and DACA recipients upheld by the Supreme Court! We also honored the Juneteenth holiday, and some of us learned something about our history. It was a good week, the best in a while. Also, it's summer. There are blooms and sunlight all around. I hope you're taking time to breathe in some goodness wherever you find it. 


For my part last week, I sent some cash to Equal Justice Initiative, started reading Layla F. Saad, and handed in edits on the final proof pages of The Habit Trip. I also took a lot of walks and did a lot of thinking about what you might need from this weekly letter. Expect more nuts and bolts of building purposeful reinforcements in the coming weeks, and please let me know if you have thoughts about what might be useful, more of this or less of that. I love hearing from you. 


(Photos: @thisiszerohour, @rollingstone, @cami_xoxoxo, @sarah.hays.coomer)


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SARAH HAYS COOMER

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