We were days away from welcoming Fellows from over 20 countries and six continents, and I had just finished a call with 2019 Fellow Carlos Vera.
The last few weeks had been busy for Carlos: lots of travel, lots of conferences, lots of continued demands on precious time and energy. And amid the hustle and bustle of the hotel lobby where our Echoing Green team was making final preparations to welcome Fellows from across the world, Carlos and I were coordinating travel arrangements to Minneapolis. Hundreds more miles of travel and less than 36 hours to be at the Convening.
“I just need to be there. I need this. I really need to be with my community.”
The love and energy in Carlos’ conviction to be with his Echoing Green Fellow community was not unique—it was a love and energy that reverberated throughout this year’s Convening. Across generations and geographies, more than 150 members of the Echoing Green community gathered and embraced, reuniting with the work, themselves, and each other.
With Fellow-designed sessions focused on supporting both one’s personal and professional lives, abundant space to breathe and reflect on individual journeys of past and present, and a graduation ceremony for (not so) new Fellows, the week was filled with moments of collective vulnerability and joy.
Connecting with Fellow after Fellow, I was struck by their insistence that Echoing Green gatherings felt vastly different than the conferences they’re used to attending and the frequency with which that sentiment was echoed throughout the following days. AFC was truly a respite, a place to re-center with colleagues who understand the unique experiences of a social innovator.
These moments of connection and inspiration were a powerful reminder that the essential elements of the Fellow community—love, kinship, power, and justice—are more than just words emblazoned across our Convening t-shirts. They are a living, breathing testament to the essence and defining characteristics of Echoing Green Fellows.
It continues to be an honor for our Echoing Green team to serve and bear witness to this beautiful community. We are eagerly counting down the days until we have the joy of doing it all over again.