There has been a seismic shift once again since we wrote the piece below, Mosaic During the Time of COVID-19. We are in a moment of reckoning. In addition to the pandemic, we are also experiencing a groundswell of pain, awareness, and activism around systemic racism due to the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd. We affirm and will keep affirming, that Black Lives Matter.
It is within this context that we underscore both the urgency and the long-term importance of Mosaic’s work. To do so, we refer you to our Need Statement and the Pyramids of Violence & Peace that underly all that we do. You will see that at the foundation of these self-perpetuating pyramids are segregation and connection. Segregation is at the root of systemic racism and violence, and connection is at the root of the solution.
It is important to educate ourselves about systemic racism AND it is not enough. When we do not actually know others from different backgrounds than ourselves, we are left to rely, whether consciously or unconsciously, on the stereotypes that surround us. These stereotypes enable us to dehumanize others and block our ability to empathize.
We have witnessed countless students from homogenous schools who can recite all the core social justice tenants – yet, when they arrive at our Outdoor Project and share a cabin with a diverse group of students for the first time, they struggle to put these lessons into practice. It is only after close interpersonal connections with other students and the patient guidance of our diverse staff that they are eventually able to do so.
The systems that separate us are powerful. If only it were as simple as, “Let’s just come together and be nice to each other.” If we are truly to unite, we must be extremely thoughtful and intentional. As research shows, in order come together and overcome prejudice, we must work on common goals, address issues of discrimination head on, and learn skills for authentic interaction and assertive conflict resolution. We must dismantle the Pyramid of Violence and build the Pyramid of Peace.
It is not enough to read about and discuss peace and justice — we must live them. The Mosaic Project seeds society with thousands of students who have experienced building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community and are inspired to create such communities throughout their lives.
Over past several weeks, our teaching staff has been visiting our partner schools’ virtual classrooms to facilitate activities and discussions. Hearing from these 4th and 5th graders during this time is absolutely heartbreaking. They are well aware of all the pain and violence around them. It is essential that we show them another possibility of what the world can be and empower them to build it!
We have been doing this work for 20 years, and we will keep doing it until our neighborhoods and schools are no longer segregated and inequitable. We will not stop working toward peace, justice and a better world for ALL our children, and we hope you will stay by our side.
Black Lives Matter.
Mosaic During the Time of COVID-19
The current pandemic is revealing and heightening separation, fear, discrimination, and inequality between groups of people. At the same time, it is accentuating the need for intentional connection across differences, empathy, effective communication, and yes, The Mosaic Project. It is clearly illustrating one of the central lessons of Mosaic’s curriculum – that our feeling peaceful, happy, and healthy is tied to everyone else feeling peaceful, happy, and healthy, because we are all interconnected. We all benefit from the more equitable, just, and inclusive world that The Mosaic Project works to build.
We are heartbroken not to be running our Outdoor Project spring sessions for the first time in 19 years and heartbroken for the world. As we settle into a new reality, we are reorganizing to the meet immediate needs presented by COVID-19 while also developing our long-term strategy.
We are focusing on our ultimate goal of creating our own permanent home on recently acquired land in Castro Valley. This home will enable us to quadruple our numbers served and to establish a model center for equity, empathy, and effective communication and conflict resolution. We are currently in the midst of an extensive permitting process with Alameda County. Meanwhile, our immediate goals are to:
- Support and to connect creatively with our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Take care of our staff throughout these uncertain times.
- Strengthen the foundation of the organization so that we will be able to thrive into the future on our own permanent home.
To these ends we are:
- Creating new virtual offerings for our young people, their families, and their teachers to provide connection as well as to teach vital skills to cope emotionally and address urgent issues arising during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- We are most excited to have launched the MOTV (Mosaic TV) series on YouTube. The most recent episodes are about assertiveness, interconnectedness, and the discrimination faced by those of Asian descent in the current climate. The next few episodes will focus conflict resolution. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have making them!
- We received the following response to the first episode from our partner teacher Dexter Coleman:
“The kids and I have really enjoyed watching MOTV! I am very grateful for all of your efforts to stay connected with the schools you work with. It is like a breath of fresh air in these difficult times. After we watched the first episode we thought it would be nice to these letters to you and your staff. Keep spreading peace and love in the fun ways that you do. We love you all, stay safe. WE WANT SOME MOTV!!!!! :)”
- We are hosting Virtual Campfire Programs every other Sunday. Our first one was so enthusiastically received that we decided to offer them regularly. We’ve heard feedback such as, “I’ve been looking forward to this all week!” and “I miss my Mosaic family! This lifted my spirits and was exactly what I needed!”
- We are visiting the virtual classrooms of our partner schools to facilitate Mosaic “gametivities” and sing our songs.
- We established a Mosaic Parent private Facebook Group . We offered a Parent Workshop via Zoom to exploring Conflict Resolution When “Sheltered at Home” and have now begun a regular Mosaic Parent Open Forum.
- We continue to hold our bimonthly “Fam Friday” gatherings for our 15-23-year-old Youth Leaders as well as our regular Youth Board and Children’s Board meetings via Zoom.
- We are offering educational opportunities for adults and older youth such as our June 10th Workshop with Dr. Michael Baran, Mosaic Advisory Board Member and Coauthor of the recent book, Subtle Acts of Exclusion.
- We are creating a Google Class curriculum site for teachers where they can find and share social-emotional learning lessons, games, and activities for virtual as well as in-person settings.
- We have begun hosting our regular MOMS (Mosaic of Music Series) event on Facebook Live . The next MOMS will be on Friday evening, June 19th.
- We are working on our second music album. We write original songs for every topic addressed in our programs. We have at least an album’s worth of songs that we have wanted to release for years. At last we will be able to do so. We plan to write and record a few new songs as well.
- Rehauling our 10-year-old Salesforce system with the help of a Catchafire volunteer who now has extra time as he works from home. This is a project we have needed to take on for a while. We finally have the time and the help we need to get it done. Salesforce literally impacts every aspect of our work. The new system will greatly increase our efficiency, which is especially important in the face of the current financial challenges.
- Revitalizing our social media strategy with the help of another Catchafire volunteer. This is also a project we have needed to take on for a while, and now in this time of social distancing, it has become essential.
- Intensifying our search for new sources of funding for both general operating support as well as for our Capital Campaign to transform our land into a camp. We have lost income from our program fees and expect our donations from individuals to decrease due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to build our community of supporters.
Thank you for your continued support at this critical time. With heightened awareness of our interdependence and deep gratitude for you, we send all our very best, healthy wishes.