PERSPECTIVES IN HEALTH

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How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community

Updated: Jun 23

In our July 20/20 Book Club selection, How We Show Up, community curator and activist Mia Birdsong shows that what separates us isn’t only the ever-present injustices built around race, class, gender, values, and beliefs, but also our denial of our interdependence and need for belonging. Read the book and join us for a virtual book talk with Mia on July 28 to discuss how we can reclaim family, friendship, and community to achieve a more liberated well-being.

About How We Show Up:

After almost every presentation activist and writer Mia Birdsong gives to executives, think tanks, and policy makers, one of those leaders quietly confesses how much they long for the profound community she describes. They have family, friends, and colleagues, yet they still feel like they’re standing alone. They’re “winning” at the American Dream, but they’re lonely, disconnected, and unsatisfied.


It seems counterintuitive that living the “good life”–the well-paying job, the nuclear family, the upward mobility–can make us feel isolated and unhappy. But in a divided America, where only a quarter of us know our neighbors and everyone is either a winner or a loser, we’ve forgotten the key element that helped us make progress in the first place: community. In this provocative, groundbreaking work, Mia Birdsong shows that what separates us isn’t only the ever-present injustices built around race, class, gender, values, and beliefs, but also our denial of our interdependence and need for belonging. In response to the fear and discomfort we feel, we’ve built walls, and instead of leaning on each other, we find ourselves leaning on concrete.


Through research, interviews, and stories of lived experience, How We Show Up returns us to our inherent connectedness where we find strength, safety, and support in vulnerability and generosity, in asking for help, and in being accountable. Showing up–literally and figuratively–points us toward the promise of our collective vitality and leads us to the liberated well-being we all want.


About the Author:

Mia Birdsong is a pathfinder, community curator, and storyteller who steadily engages the leadership and wisdom of people experiencing injustice to chart new visions of American life. She has a gift for making visible and leveraging the brilliance of everyday people so that our collective gifts reach larger spheres of influence, cultural and political change, and create wellbeing for everyone.


Believing that, taken collectively, we are the guides we most need, Mia has made an art out of inviting people into rich explorations of how we map paths forward. Her public conversations, like the New America series centering Black women as agents of change and her 2015 TED talk “The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True,” draw targeted attention to the stories of people who are finding their way into leadership roles despite myriad barriers, while also highlighting the vibrant terrain of all marginalized people who are leading on the ground and solving for tomorrow.


In “More Than Enough,” her podcast miniseries from The Nation, she expands the current guaranteed income movement by tapping into the voices and visions of low-income people. Previously, as founding Co-Director of Family Story, Mia lifted up a new national story about what makes a good family. As Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative, she leveraged the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives.


Mia is a Senior Fellow of the Economic Security Project. She was an inaugural Ascend Fellow and faculty member with The Aspen Institute, a New American California Fellow, and Advocate-in-Residence with University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. Mia lives and dreams big on the occupied land of the Chochenyo Ohlone people (AKA Oakland, CA).


Book Talk:

On Tuesday, July 28 (1:00 pm EST), Mia Birdsong will join Aspen Ideas: Health 20/20 for a LIVE conversation about her new book, How We Show Up. RSVP today and come ready with your questions for the author!

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