What a Year
Holy moly. July 1st marked the one year anniversary of Attorney on the Move and what a year it has been! I look back at the list of blog posts since July 1, 2015 and I simultaneously cannot believe how much has happened and how quickly this year has seemed to go by.
This project in the last year has:
- Given 100% pro bono legal services to 11 project sites (and counting!)
- Provided free legal aid to hundreds of individuals across the United States
- Obtained a number of successful outcomes such as securing bond for detainees in detention centers, advising clients on various matters at pro se clinics, prepping dozens if not hundreds of Central American asylum seekers on their initial credible fear interview, and much more.
- Received considerable press
...And there is no slowing down in sight!
A Picture is a Thousand Words
It was tough to narrow down one representative photo for each project stop so far (in fact, nearly impossible), but here is the last year of Attorney on the Move in photos:
I also wanted to re-share some thoughts I recently posted on social media:
It's my one year anniversary! One year ago today, I gave away nearly all of my belongings and left Oakland to do pro bono lawyering across the US for 6 months -- completely unsure of how it would go. And here I am a year later and I am not slowing down anytime soon. I love this work.
During this journey, I've been very privileged to live and work in many different communities in the US -- often getting the chance to reunite with friends and make many new ones. Other times, living and working in some of the more rural and isolated parts of the US was an opportunity for me to spend a lot of time with myself.
When I was living and working on the Navajo Nation last winter, I was there over the holidays -- crashing out in my office (not the best work/life balance!). I had just made the decision to continue Attorney on the Moveuntil at least the end of 2016. I wanted to stay committed to my values of truth, community, and compassion. And right now, this project is the best conduit for me to try my best to enact these personal values.
One day, I went to one of the very few stores on the reservation and saw this ring. And I decided to give myself a modest holiday present. It struck me that I wanted a reminder, a symbol of the commitment that I had made not only to the work I felt so passionately about but also -- to myself. I guess you can say I sort of married myself that winter day -- haha! But what a relationship it has been. I chose a ring that fits on my middle finger because, well, God knows that doing this work I sometimes need the reminder that our many broken systems need a big ol' flipping the bird. (Amirite?) I also wanted to be reminded of my desire to be compassionately fierce -- and fiercely compassionate. There have been many times that I have stumbled but I want to get up and try again each day.
The ring also reminds me of our connection to one another -- and some of you may have heard me share the following story before. Last fall, I was in Great Falls, MT preparing for a mediation with a dozen or so members of the Blackfeet tribe. It was for an impact litigation case that affected hundreds of individuals and families on the reservation. I was the only non-tribal member present during this time. And to be honest, I was aware of my visitor/non-tribal status.
I wanted to be quietly observant. This particular time wasn't my space to take up or agitate—as I was temporarily visiting; I am not a tribal member; I'm someone new for the tribe to get to know; and this was their case and people it was affecting. Those few days, I was mostly silent but tried to offer my total attention—listening to lighter-hearted stories that were important to the community and deeply painful stories of marginalization. And I admit that I wondered how I was being perceived and how people felt about me being there.
Before we all walked into the mediation room that day, one of the tribal leaders put his arm around me and told me with a warm smile on his face: "Today, you're one of us now." I'll never forget it. And aren't we all part of each other?
Thanks to each and every one of you who has supported my work this past year through your emotional and financial support & friendship -- and witnessing my highs and lows. My heart has been blown wide open with your generosity & kindness and despite all the toxicity swirling around today -- I am convinced there is more good than bad, more love than hate. It's because I have been so fortunate to experience and see it all firsthand. I know there is more for us to be united on than to be divided against. This truth hits me right in my core.
And I have another big announcement coming up in the next few weeks that I am super excited to share with you all (!!!). In the meantime, thank you for reading this, for journeying alongside me, and for being my friend. I so hope to see you soon and I'm sending much love from Chicago.