Since releasing The Voices of Redlands last November there has been a tremendous outpouring of support for us and the brave contributors who have told their stories. We want to thank you all for showing us that the world is listening.
We believe it is time to share what we have planned for the future.
We always knew that we wanted to pivot the focus of our project to encompass more than just the city of Redlands, and the feedback we have received has given us the impulse to do so.
Stories can be like fire. Untended, both Fire and Story can burn and devastate. Yet Fire and Story can also be a shelter without walls—providing warmth and a place of safety for community to gather around.
We wish to empower people to use their voices and to tell their stories, provide tools for recognizing abuse, walk with survivors into their healing, and demonstrate how great life can be after horror. We want people to stay, to live, to thrive, and to love. We want people whose flame is dying to be nurtured so they can carry a blazing flame again.
Undaunted and undeterred, in the coming weeks we will establish a new platform where survivors, advocates, community leaders, and the marginalized can listen to each other, learn from each other, and lead us all together into a better future. In a world with innumerable causes, agitations, and buzzwords, we are aware how difficult it is to advocate for change without fulfilling negative stereotypes. Outrage is everywhere, but it does not have to be within us. We can create a place that is a refuge from futile rage and we will. As people who have been burned, we aim to use fire the right way.
Bringing together the elements that establish light and illumination, it may seem lofty for us to presume that the next stage of The Voices of Redlands could offer a space of safety and freedom, but we feel wholeheartedly up to the challenge. We invite to you to step in, even if it is just for a short time, and gather around the fire. There is strength and rest even when the winds howl and arrows fly.
When we tell our stories, when people choose to listen, we are given the opportunity to find healing, grace, and authentic love. Although heartbreaking and shocking, by continuing to speak out and expose abusive practices within our religions, workplaces, and homes, our wounds are finding a way to heal others. People are being helped by becoming aware of the various injustices that have remained hidden for too long and with that knowledge are empowered to stop injustice before it grows.
We believe that any society functions best when people are taking care of each other. It is not enough to rely on organizations or institutions, but to inspire people to invest directly into the well-being of their neighbor. That investment begins with someone telling a story and someone else listening. The hearer has to care—even if it is just to validate the person speaking by loving them enough to listen.
There are still more pages to tell in the story of Redlands. We aim to fill the gaps of our story and answer your questions. Yet our focus will be helping you tell your story—passing the torch, and running with you to the finish line.
When we all stand together—to love our neighbors and our cities and each other—we will begin to right these wrongs, and the world can become a brighter, warmer place for everyone.