Mary Allen Lindemann, Community Builder/Co-Founder, Coffee By Design

What does it mean to you to stand up for yourself?

“The other day someone said, ‘Many invite others to the dance but the difference is whether or not you invite others to dance with you.’

I used to think standing up for something had to be big. I know now that access to justice happens in so many little ways every day. Taking a stand comes from being open to lessons learned from one’s mistakes. Small gestures from a kind and open heart have deep and meaningful impact.

It’s about, when being honored for one’s social justice work, asking to include Burundi drummers, and bringing two dozen immigrant leaders on stage with me to ask for help with immigrant integration.

It’s about not being afraid to ask for clarification when navigating unfamiliar cultural territory.

It’s important to look at the messages we send without meaning to. Who sits on our boards? Who attends our events? Are the people we claim to serve present? So much of what is being fought for is meaningless unless we are an inclusive democracy as well as inclusive economy — where all people are equally counted to carry the torch of justice.

How we welcome others into our lives, our homes and businesses — and yes, even to dance with us — is for me taking a stand, which builds the foundation of the long-term change we seek.”