Issue 45 Out Now!
Illustration: Beena Mistry
In the early days of planning and brainstorming, our movement-building issue was themed on leadership. We wanted to use our pages to talk about leadership that isn’t always seen as leadership: leadership that is shared or flattened, leadership as allyship, leadership as love and compassion. Feminist, anti-racist, flexible, responsive, accountable leader- ship. At points, we referred to this issue as the “leaderless” issue, because the kinds of leadership we were interested in highlighting felt so different from the kinds of leadership that young people are taught to strive for.
While the theme expanded from there to movement-building, this origin story remained a reflective place that I visited and re-visited often. What does it mean to lead with care? How can we dismantle power through alternative models of leadership? How can we think about leadership as community self-determination?
For the last eight years, our organization has been led by our pub- lisher Julia Horel. Julia announced her retirement a year ago, giving us time and space to find someone to fill the beautiful, bold and very big boots that she is leaving behind. This issue marks her last as publisher, and in working through some of its themes while simulta- neously processing her retirement, I’m left with long lists of lessons that she’s taught me on leadership, and movement-building. In the interest of time, and space, I want to share just a few of these with you:
When done right, leadership can be a beautiful form of allyship. In Julia’s case, she saw her role as publisher as a mechanism for making possible the hopes and dreams of our editorial team. She translated our vision into grant-speak; she sent countless e-transfer to collaborators; she leaned in when folks didn’t always have capacity, and leaned back to make sure there was space for others. Her work was largely behind-the-scenes, but served as an invaluable connective tissue in our organization.
Movement-building requires boundary-setting. So often in passion-driven grassroots projects, we’re taught that the only way to engage is to give our whole selves to the work. Julia taught me to set boundaries in my work at Shameless, and that boundary-setting is not an act of abandonment, but an act of care.
We cannot detangle care from our work. We’ve written so much on care in previous issues, but I will add here that I will continue to appreciate the ways in which Julia’s role as publisher was never delineated from her role as a friend. Those blurred edges between the personal, professional and political were ones to lean into, and care was the practice that allowed all three to flourish. Care looked like check-ins, it looked like food, it looked like making sure payments were sent on time, and consistently being open to finding creative ways forward that centred all our well-being.
This last point has allowed me to process Julia’s retirement from a place of abundance. To know that the care between her and Shameless, between her and all of us, will continue despite a title change. To Julia, I will always have a lot to say, but will leave it as a simple “thank you.” To our readers, I want to say that this transition marks a really special one for Shameless: Julia’s parting gift to us includes the continued mentorship of our new Director of Operations, Yasmin Emery, who we can’t wait to introduce to you in our next issue, and who will most certainly teach us new lessons in radical leadership.