Just about all of us Boingboingers have faced different forms of adversity throughout our lives. Often this means those of us who have experienced injustice, prejudice, inequality and/or discrimination. This includes everyone, from our young (and older) volunteers, practice staff and academics. Some of us still face enormous disadvantage day to day, despite the external support we have to draw on. Our individual and collective resilience waxes and wanes, even on a daily basis. Despite this, we pull together to support each other and to use our lived experience as a strength in all of our work.
Examples of the range of adversity that different Boingboingers have faced, or continue to face include (although this is definitely not a ‘tick list’): hidden and visible disabilities, being born into an unstable home, coming from an ethnic minority, experiencing racism, being a member of the LGBTQIA community, having learning difficulties, growing up in poverty, being the parent of children with complex needs or supporting close friends or family with mental health issues, our own physical or mental health difficulties including experience of self-harm, and having to emigrate and acclimatise to a new culture. Some of us have been luckier than others. We have the odd academic (and he certainly is a bit eccentric) who was brought up with major privileges but we don’t hold it against him. Just down the road from him another of our academic members grew up in poverty and faced major inequalities as a child and young adult.
Despite the problems we deal with, we try not let our lives and histories hold us back. We try not to define ourselves solely through our adversity and think ‘woe is me’. Instead, we have many identities from which we draw strength, alongside our lived experience. We are experienced in a range of areas. For some of us our main expertise is quite conventional; it comes from being an academic. For others of us, our lived experience of complex circumstances is the expertise that we bring. Still others are practitioners, community-based researchers and/or parents/carers for someone who is really struggling in life.
Boingboing is constructed this way partly because we have an ethos of promoting progression amongst people with adversities who get involved with us. Also, because our ethos is attractive to people who have experienced disadvantage, they want to come and work or volunteer with us in order to contribute positively to others in similar circumstances.
Our multiple identities and combined experience of adversity help us to work co-productively alongside people from marginalised groups. Together we develop ways of supporting people’s resilience and incorporating insight from lived experience into our research. Resilience is about overcoming difficulties, despite the odds being stacked against you. However, in the Boingboing community we think resilience is more than that. It’s about also changing the odds, so that the world we live in becomes a fairer place for everyone. This is why we describe resilience as beating the odds whilst also changing the odds. Our quirky, collective identity gives us the passion to continuously challenge real-world inequality through our social justice approach, all the while trying to maintain academic rigour. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk but we feel it’s worth it, to bring our research and practice approach to life.
You can find out more about the inspiring people we work with in the Boingboing and wider CRSJ and Resilience Revolution community on the Boingboingers biography page.
Not sure? Feel free to check out our Newsletter archive first.
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