Grateful: A Journal Reflection on The Wellbeing Project’s Ecosystem Network
Guest post by:
Program Manager, Co.Act Detroit
In so many ways, this word embodies my feelings and thoughts toward The Wellbeing Project’s Ecosystem Network.
My colleague, Kyla Carlsen, and I joined the Ecosystem Network in September of 2022. Though we joined this community of passionate, thoughtful, and dedicated changemakers for a short amount of time compared to when the network first begun, never did I once feel like an intruder.
From the beginning, we were greeted with such warmth and open arms that I knew virtually attending the Wellbeing Forums would be calls that I would eagerly anticipate every quarter. It did not take long for me to be captivated by the illumination of the Ecosystem Network because of the caring people creating and holding this space for changemakers to connect in such an intentional and authentic way.
One of the things I admired most about the network was the way this space was held for members to connect. I don’t ever recall joining a session where we immediately rushed into business or the tasks at hand. Instead, we were encouraged to participate in a collective grounding exercise or share how we were showing up in the space on that day. Taking this intentional pause to get grounded or share how we were honestly feeling was so astonishing to me.
Often in the nonprofit sector, we are hurrying through the day moving from one task or meeting to the next. This simple yet meaningful practice opened my eyes to how I could interact with my colleagues and facilitate meetings within my work differently. While meeting with members of the Collective Leaders Learning Circle program hosted by Co.act Detroit (pictured above), I was able to support with leading wellness practices for our group during some of our convenings. I felt confident to lead these practices thanks to my interactions and experience with members in the Ecosystem Network.
As a participant in this network, I loved being able to connect with other changemakers around the world. It was inspiring to hear about the work others were engaged in and the way they passionately served their communities. I still recall being amazed by Marlize Swanepowel’s presentation on the work she and her team does at Sp(i)eel concerning intergenerational trauma. Being able to connect with others over important and universal topics has made this experience such an insightful one.
One of my favorite gatherings as part of this network was when Anubha Agarwal of The Wellbeing Project shared findings from the Organizational Exploratory Program (OEP). This session resonated with me so deeply because one part of my work at Co.act is to lead our Nonprofit Wellbeing Series, which uplifts the vital connection between self and community care in the nonprofit community. To have the opportunity to hear about another’s wellbeing program and the lessons that have emerged was one I did not take for granted. I appreciated her transparency and that I was able to share some of the similar themes I saw in my work as well. Experiences like these continue to remind me why having collective space for people to convene and share is important.
As bittersweet as it is to say, “farewell” to the Ecosystem Network, I am grateful that there are still spaces for us to connect under The Wellbeing Project, such as through the Inner Wellbeing for Social Change group. To find ourselves in nourishing networks or spaces rooted in community and connectivity that are handled with so much care is something I treasure deeply. It is what I will miss most about the Ecosystem Network. While every beginning has an ending, I am grateful that the spirit of the Ecosystem Network will live on across the work of The Wellbeing Project and through the mindful practices and resources of its members. I have found so much joy, understanding, and inspiration from being a part of this community that I am forever changed and eternally grateful.
About The Author
Meet Charnae Sanders
Charnae Sanders, a devoted community advocate and Program Manager at Co.act Detroit, is deeply committed to fostering connections and empowering individuals. Her dedication to community development in her hometown of Detroit is evident through her work in curating impactful programs and events, including the Nonprofit Wellbeing Series. As a passionate contributor to the Rest and Liberation Initiative, she actively promotes holistic wellbeing and empowerment, particularly within BIPOC communities.
Charnae’s active involvement in various professional initiatives, such as the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Detroit and The Social Innovation Forum’s Community Organizations Reimagining Ecosystem (CORE) cohort, reflects her continuous efforts in promoting growth and leadership development. Her diverse experiences, including her time with the Challenge Detroit fellowship program and The Black Healing Justice Project, have further enriched her understanding of social impact and community engagement.
Prior to her role at Co.act Detroit, Charnae served as the Public Programs Coordinator at the Detroit Historical Society, utilizing her background in journalism from Central Michigan University. Her passion for writing and poetry has led to publications in renowned outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Detroit Free Press. In her leisure time, she finds joy in writing, traveling, and experiencing the vibrant culture of her beloved city.