Holding Hope in the Balance: Happy 1st Anniversary #TangibleHope!

One year ago today, we launched the #TangibleHope campaign to spread stories of hope and to share with the world what sometimes gets lost in the news cycle — that there are more helpers out there than those causing harm.

As I sit here today, last August feels like a lifetime ago. At that point, the U.S. was in the middle of a divisive presidential election and fear was running high after terrorist attacks in Europe and California.  And , yet, last August, there had been no Orlando night club shooting;  no wildfires in Ft. McMurray, Alberta; no approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or the building of the Dakota Access pipeline under sacred water in North Dakota; there had been no white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., no Hurricane Harvey soaking south Texas, no Hurricane Matthew before that; and countless other events that make my heart hurt.

I wonder, knowing what we know now, were we naive, a year ago, to launch a campaign based on hope?


But maybe not.

The #TangibleHope campaign has never been about pretending that awful things aren’t happening or don’t exist. It has been about holding both of these things and focusing our attention on what we want to grow — peace, justice and healing. It has been about raising awareness of the many people in the world who carry out compassionate actions each day, who build bridges of peace, who mobilize and advocate for peace and justice.

Because, in the midst of all the horrible things that have happened in the past year, this time last year, there had also been no outpouring of support for Muslim communities when Islamophobic marches were planned;  no tens of thousands of Water Protectors gathering at Standing Rock (including for an interfaith day of prayer) to advocated for care of the Earth; no hundreds of stories of Faith In Canada shared for Canada’s 150th anniversary;  no rallying of dozens of organizations after the election to help heal a divided nation; no gathering of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world to march for women’s rights and human rights ; no creation of a global toolkit with practical actions people can take to care for our Earth ; no high school students taking action to promote interfaith understanding; no coalition of organizations supporting a summer campaign to #KnowYourNeighbor; no outpouring of support across sectors to oppose the travel ban; no Syrian refugees in Canada mobilizing to support victims of wildfires; no Jewish and Muslim friends dressing up as interfaith superheroes (and taking the internet by storm) – no hundreds of thousands of other moments of compassion that have happened in the last 365 days.

For me, living with the #TangibleHope campaign this past year, has been about bringing my attention, consistently, back to hope.  It’s been about looking for hope, even when I don’t feel like it. It’s been about lifting up hope in the midst of despair. And relishing those moments when the hope seems to stand on its own.

I’d love to hear from each of you: How has how living with #TangibleHope for this past year has affected you? 

Before I end this anniversary post, I need to take a moment to thank the folks who have made the #TangibleHope campaign possible:

  • Everyone who has followed the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; everyone who has shared their own stories of hope and everyone who commented on the ones we and our partners have shared.
  • The URI North America network of Cooperation Circles and Affiliates whose sharing of their needs, dreams, and feedback are the foundation of this campaign.
  • Our former Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Annissa Abdel-Jelil, who translated the needs, dreams, and feedback of URI members into the #TangibleHope campaign and who shepherded the campaign for its first four months.
  • The URI North America Leadership Council and Communications Committee who have provided consistent feedback and support for the campaign.
  • Our current and former Social Media interns, who have carried this campaign forward for the past 8 months.
  •  All of our campaign partners who have, over the past year,  promote this campaign and shared stories of hope.
  •  Everyone who has written a reflection for the #TangibleHope Diaries series.
  • And many more!

While we celebrate the one year anniversary of this campaign, we also want to be clear that this is not the end of #TangibleHope. The campaign will continue with consistent postings on social media and a monthly #TangibleHope email digest (subscribe here)! The only change is that this series will no longer be published monthly but, rather, will be published periodically as pieces are submitted.

As we move forward into year two, we would love your input (email na.socialmedia@uri.org) about how to improve this means of spreading stories of hope!

In Hope,

Sari Heidenreich
North American Regional Coordinator, United Religions Initiative