Jeff’s Letter

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Dear Wayside Family,

These gentle, almost-spring days usually awaken a sense of optimism in me, and an eager anticipation of all of the creek swimming and late-night bonfires that warm weather brings to Wayside. This year, I can hardly turn a corner around here without being overwhelmed by memories.

It seems like such a long time ago now that a small group of us had that first visioning meeting. We spent the next year consulting with groups around the region, renovating and furnishing this farmhouse and getting ready to open shop. I’ll never forget the feeling the morning of our grand opening celebration as carloads of people poured into the field.

From that day on the outpouring has continued in so many ways. Like the time a windstorm left us with no power for almost a week and people came and stayed and worked steady through the nearly hundred degree heat, forming bucket brigades to pull water out of the creek, keeping our flock of sheep and new landscape plantings alive. Everything that happens here is only possible because of the many, many ways people invest themselves in this place – by organizing fundraising events, donating money, participating in workshops, organizing in their own communities, answering calls to action . . .

Some memories illustrate so clearly just what we are building here together. Like walking out the back door to see a group of men who have served long prison sentences offering a popular education workshop to children of incarcerated people on the school to prison pipeline and the rich history of resistance to it. Like hearing one of our 16 year-old interns take the stage at our fifth anniversary party and give one of the best speeches I have ever heard. Like seeing immigrant families take the stage at a press conference to receive an apology for discriminatory treatment after years of struggle.

My own life has been deeply interwoven with this unfolding story these past eight years. Living and working here left little separation between my personal life and my professional life during the early days. I cut the grass and cleaned the house, cooked all the meals and even shared my bedroom as overflow space for the first workshop here. My kids stayed here with me during many of the events and have grown up with Wayside as an extended family for nearly half of their lives. It’s been an incredible gift that I appreciate more and more with the passing of time.

My job got a lot more complicated as Wayside grew and over the past few years, attending to that while navigating the onset of an extended and painful family health crisis took more out of me than I realized. Eventually I had to admit it wasn’t sustainable for me to go on like this and that continuing to try wasn’t good for me or for Wayside.

I’m, of course, sad to leave. I’m deeply grateful to each of you for all that you contribute to Wayside. You, and the work we do together have transformed me in ways I never could have imagined eight years ago. I’m stepping back for now, to take some time for healing and perspective; to discover new ways to make a living and the new ways that I will show up in our movements.

The board will reach out soon about next steps and new directions for Wayside. I hope as you support the local and national groups doing the organizing work so needed in this moment, that you can also donate to Wayside as an investment in our movements for the long haul. And I hope that one day soon, we’ll meet each other here again and catch up late into the night around the bonfire.

Much Love,