Almost a year before I helped start Palante in 2010, I attended my first Fighting Burnout Retreat, a yearly event held by the Audre Lorde Project to help people involved in movement organizing identify how our work might be leading to burnout and how we might be able to counter that, both for our own individual health and for the collective health of our movements. I remember discussing our levels of burnout and describing myself as "crispy."
That was eleven long and eventful years ago.
According to Palante's all-knowing project management system, I first mentioned sabbaticals in 2015 during a meeting about healthy communications. There are a number of other mentions of sabbaticals in our meeting notes and other tickets, often coming from some of the most burnt-out folks at the coop. But in early 2018, eight years into our existence, we went from occasionally mentioning sabbaticals to committing to make sabbaticals a reality at Palante.
We researched how other similar cooperatives and organizations handle sabbaticals, considered our own specific situations and particular challenges at Palante, and worked to develop a sabbatical policy that our cooperative can use to help increase the individual sustainability of this job. Last year, guided by policies shared by AORTA and Design Action Collective, we developed and approved a sabbatical policy that we could afford both financially and in terms of managing our coop-wide workload during the worker's absence.
Our current policy allows each worker-owner at Palante to take up to six months of sabbatical every eighth year of working at Palante, with up to three months fully paid. We settled on those numbers because they seemed sufficient, achievable in the near future, and most importantly, repeatable and sustainable so that each member of Palante can enjoy this benefit during their tenure at the cooperative. There are no restrictions on how people use their sabbatical; as we wrote in our policy, "we treat sabbatical time as an opportunity for the worker to recharge and heal, pursue new interests, be with community, and return to Palante with renewed energy, balance, and focus."
I'm excited and relieved to say that I'll be the first Palante worker-owner to take a sabbatical! I'll be away from my Palante work from August through December 2020, returning in 2021. During my time away I'll be resting, writing, reading, reconnecting to local organizing here in Oakland, and returning to the streets (in person and virtually) during this most tumultuous time. And as I've been joking to friends these past few weeks, I'll be enjoying the first time in at least fourteen years that I don't feel personally responsible for keeping a movement website online!
See you in January, and until then, see you in the streets and in those tweets!