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A Q&A with Native Led Giving Project member Michael Beebe

Q: Why did you sign up for the Momentum Native Led Organizing Giving Project? Was there anything about supporting Native Led Organizing in particular that prompted you to join?

A: Truth be told, I was needing my “Giving Project Fix.” This Giving Project is my third (Environmental Justice in 2011/Movement Building Giving Project in 2015) and each time I find them highly educational, rewarding, and inspiring. So I was looking for a Giving Project in 2017 to lift my spirits and to engage with others in meaningful social justice focused philanthropy! More specifically, I have been inspired by the #NODAPL movement and excited to find ways to build off the momentum of this “movement moment” to effect change in the NorthWest. So the timing was right for me to join the Native Led Organizing Giving Project!

Q: What were one or two meaningful experiences or take-aways for you from this Giving Project?

A: As I listened to Movement leaders during the second session of our Giving Project, I was struck by how critical it is for us to support Native-led organizing to protect the land that we all live on. Certainly we have a responsibility to protect Native lands, but additionally if we all want to survive well into the future and have clean water, clean air, and healthy food to eat we better direct our giving dollars to Native-led organizing as one of the approaches to ensuring that healthy future!

Q: Is there one grantee whose work is particularly interesting or inspiring for you? Why?

A: I was particularly moved by my site visit to Chief Seattle Club. We met in their roundhouse that was built to incorporate elements of many different tribes. Since they serve low income and homeless urban Indians, they wanted to create a space where people from many different tribes and spiritual traditions all felt welcome. Even as a person of European descent I felt quite welcome and could tell that indeed this was sacred space. I was impressed with the high level of commitment of Chief Seattle club to serve Native people. They have made the decision to not take federal dollars so that they can stay focused on serving only Native folks.  Our grant to Chief Seattle club is going to help ensure that Native folks are prioritized in creating new affordable housing for low-income and homeless folks in Seattle.  We learned that in other agencies that focus on serving urban Indians that because they accept federal dollars  they have to serve all people. Consequently often the services are provided for mostly non-Native folks due to the legacy of colonialism and racism, Native folks have lots of reasons to not trust and/or feel comfortable in spaces dominated by non-Native folks.  I appreciate their strong commitment to creating housing & services that truly focuses on Native peoples.

Q: How do you hope to stay connected to Social Justice Fund NW and/or to the organizations you supported in this Giving Project?

A: I have been a member of Social Justice Fund NW for 12 years now and continue to feel very proud of my membership in SJF.  I anticipate I will continue to go to SJF events such as the upcoming Annual Member meeting in August, and the upcoming Annual Dinner in October!  In the not too distant future, I am excited to embark on my 4th Giving Project! More specifically as a result of the Native Led organizing project I will be ready to take action in those moments where Native folks need non-Native folks to join with them in direct action, giving, and broader educational efforts.