There were 18 victims of the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder in March. All these people had dreams, quirks, habits and everything that makes us human. They all leave behind networks of family, friends and coworkers who are trying to make sense of their loss. Countless more people have lost their lives to gun violence, including nearly 20,000 Americans, just in 2020. For Argosy, this most recent tragedy hits particularly close to home, with an office in Boulder and some of our partners located there. We are grieving for the loved ones of the victims. We are grieving for the communities they leave behind. We are grieving for the AAPI community. And, we are grieving for our nation who continues to grapple with hate and violence.
Like so many other issues today, the topic of gun safety is bitterly divided. The extreme stances on both sides often drown out the much larger portion of the population who supports a balanced approach. Everyone wants to feel safe and no one wants to suffer the agonizing loss of a loved one to gun violence. Perhaps it is naive to think we can start to bring together those with opposing views with those shared values, as so many of us retreat into the security of our staunchly held ideals. However, unless we continue to aspire to that vision, we will get nowhere.
Our mission at Argosy includes supporting people and programs that make our society a better place to live. What does ‘a better place’ mean? I submit it means a place where people feel safe and heard, and where they are celebrated for collaboration, solutions, and kindness. We know gun violence is a wickedly difficult problem with complex components and considerations. To get to solutions, we must be willing to allow for some equally difficult conversations, a lot of imperfection, and a willingness to see the humanity in our fellow humans.
To the family of George Floyd and to everyone who has suffered racial injustice, we are listening. We are willing to be uncomfortable and acknowledge how deeply institutionalized racism is. We are grieving the injustices people of color have experienced and grieving the behavior, conscious or unconscious, of those of us in power who perpetuate these. We intend to use this grief, and the hope for a more equitable and kinder world, to inform how we engage in our grantmaking. We are taking action now, by more actively examining our current partnerships through the lens of racial equity and exploring where we can have a greater impact going forward. Our vision is a world where ALL people are empowered and inspired to make a positive impact on their communities and our world.
We are listening.
If you find yourself in a more fortunate situation during this COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably asking yourself how you can help others. The impacts reach far beyond public health and jobs. Where we live, our work habits, healthcare, our mental health, education, etc. are all affected. It’s likely that entire sectors of the economy may become obsolete or at the very least, radically changed. This means many people are having to rethink their livelihoods and aspirations. Change like that can be terrifying.
While we continue to support our existing partners and find ways to help the public at large through all of this, we also aim to keep in mind the stress of uncertainty for everyone. For those of us who are able to keep our heads above water, our roles aren’t just about throwing out life jackets. They’re about lending a kind ear, learning from others and being clear with what we can and can’t help with. Now, more than ever, is a time to focus on what can be done, rather than on mistakes that are made, or decisions we disagree with. Fear and lack of control breed reactive anger, some of which can be ugly and counterproductive. When we have the wherewithal to emerge from our own fear and resist our inclination to judge, we owe it to those less fortunate to listen, be patient, be kind and reside in hope. No one can save everyone, but the more people who feel heard and considered, the broader reaching our efforts will be. Even while social distancing, we still co-exist on this pale blue dot.
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”
Like all foundations, Argosy is monitoring the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. We understand that everyone is affected by this, and that everyone’s actions now and in the coming months will have important repercussions. Our team has adapted quickly to the changing environment and is committed to keeping a flexible approach as we learn more from our partners, continue to understand the CARES Act and other aid packages, and follow the spread of the virus. As always, our greatest assets are our ability to listen, our capacity for compassion and collaboration, and a strategic approach to problem solving. We wish everyone health and support, and are deeply grateful for the continued dedication and resilience of our partners, and everyone on the front lines of COVID-19.
Argosy Foundation Chief Executive Officer & President
Are you interested in learning more about philanthropy or the nonprofit organizations it supports? A paid Argosy internship is a great way to learn more about both fields while also being a hands-on part of helping support innovative solutions to pressing challenges around the country. Interns will be based out of our downtown Milwaukee office and we often have opportunities both fall and spring semesters during the academic year (around 20 hours a week is expected) or during the summer (when you have the option of working up to full time). Two types of internships exist- our Research and Program Support Internships (available throughout the year) assist Argosy staff in researching and evaluating partners and projects we support. Tasks may include reviewing proposals, finding new organizations for us to consider, or digging into a research question we might like to know more about. Our Communication Internships (usually offered only in the summer), on the other hand, primarily take deep dives into our existing partners and through research, interviews, and sometimes even site visits, help us write up detailed stories highlighting their work for the Argosy website (although you may get to experience some of the research and program support side of things as well).
Interested in applying? We bring on interns throughout the year as our needs and capacity allow- we'll always post if and when we open applications for a coming semester or summer on the front page of our site, but in case you don’t want to commit to visiting and refreshing the site every day (why not?!), you can fill out this quick Google Form with your contact info and we’ll be sure to share any openings and position descriptions with you by email as they are available.
If you’ve noticed things look a little shinier on the Argosy website recently, it’s not because we dusted, it’s because we actually took the start of the decade as a chance to commit to revamping our site, just like we committed to revamping our diet and workout schedule (still working on those ones!). The new site should be much easier to navigate, much more mobile friendly, and most importantly to us, much better able to show off the amazing work our partners do every day. From bigger images of their work throughout the site, to more immersive partner stories highlighting their efforts, to this brand-new updates page you’ve found yourself on allowing us to share brief news and happenings not just from Argosy but from our partners, as well, we’re very excited to be able to launch this update.
All the credit goes to long-time friend of Argosy, designer and art director Kevin Sparrow who did all the website design and creation. If you’re looking for help with your website, brand identity, photography, or anything in between, we definitely recommend reaching out to Kevin!
What’s better than a win-win solution? A win-win-win solution! And that’s just the type of innovative solution our partners at the Center For Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy are helping promote. Their work helps address a myriad of concerns- the immediate need for rapid expansion of renewable energy sources; the rapidly disappearing populations of pollinator species so many of our crops and plants rely on, and the increasingly difficult economic realities facing so many small farms around the country. The solution? Pollinator-friendly solar. Instead of the gravel or monoculture grass so often placed underneath large land-based solar arrays, Fresh Energy works to ensure these sites are seeded with high-quality native flowers and grasses that pollinators so deeply reply on. With this simple, yet often ignored factor, those “wins” really start multiplying- pollinators get the habitat they need to thrive and farmers and other land-owners reap not just the economic benefits leasing land for solar can bring, but a myriad suite of environmental benefits in the process- pollinators that provide critical services for their crops, as well as native plants that can capture and filter storm water, prevent erosion, and build up soil health. Even better? We all benefit from increased investment in renewable energy that doesn’t come at the expense of hurting agricultural productivity.
The Center For Pollinators in Energy have become not just the go-to experts and resource for solar projects considering pollinator-friendly plantings, but they’ve also become national cheerleaders for spreading awareness on this important work. With partnership campaigns from makeup companies to food brands to breweries (yes, solar beer!) and now, national recognition from the Cleanie Awards (the gold standard awards for the clean energy industry) and even the Emmys (take that, HBO!), it’s clear the future for pollinator-friendly solar is just as sweet as the honey it helps produce. Congrats on the well-deserved recognition, all!