A Little Light

Last Tuesday, PSCS participated in Giving Tuesday, a curious movement created by the nonprofit sector, for nonprofits, meant as a tonic to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanks to so many generous supporters we raised almost $14K in one day for tuition access—which is a massive benefit to us all.

As the main face of PSCS development and fundraising the last 12 years, I think of this day as curious because it both highlights the strangeness of said consumerism and capitalizes on the same ideals and media relationship. That being said, I am thankful for the specific, yearly calls to action for each one of us to deepen support of those organizations offering the  important and necessary services, most of which are systemically undervalued.

What I love most about giving is the tangible opportunity to express thanks and share the process of doing and offering to others. I always say that gratitude is the real gift and gratitude is rarely treated lightly at PSCS. Since our founding 30 years ago, Appreciations (noun, capital “A” intended) are prioritized and held sacred. They are the water we drink, the oxygen we breathe, the light we need.

A lot has shifted over the last 30 years, both in the school and in the world. However Appreciations represent much of what remains the same: our deep commitment to engagement, integrity, community, and courage.

Students and staff at PSCS begin and end each day with time specially allotted for recognizing and savoring small moments, big opportunities, kindness, and personal or community growth. We hold this space during staff meetings, parent nights, school gatherings, orientations, even board meetings. We appreciate our own accomplishments and gains, the rain and the sun, our neighbors and siblings, people we look up to, challenges we’re overcoming, stories we made and stories we hear.

It’s not unusual to hear any one of us share about world issues affecting us and calls to action; for students and staff to appreciate each other for who they are and what they bring to this and other communities, for stepping out of their comfort zone, sharing a moment, or trying something new.

PSCS students and staff also take this time to recognize when someone else provided labor that ensured us ease or to make each other aware of mistakes or errors we made, often appreciating another’s flexibility, grace, or resourcefulness. We take this time to acknowledge those in the world suffering indignity and violence, to advocate or agitate for change, to share the ways we are able to respond and act, and the ways we are not.

Giving Tuesday is behind us now, but there are a lot of opportunities and organizations to engage this season. Many occasions worth noting are overlapping: Hanukkah and other winter holidays, the end of Fall Term at PSCS, winter solstice, shopping, eating, giving, gathering, finishing one year, beginning another. Many of us are drawn to bigger questions, issues, impacts, and problems: unceasing gun violence in the US, Sudan, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine. In these busy, complicated times, I ask you to stay curious and appreciative.

As we hear and read about the “right” perspective on THE issue, let’s remain curious and giving. We are all individually, constantly, engaged with our deepest questions and often our most paralyzing fears. As we try to make sense of what we’re celebrating—or wonder if we should—digging into curiosity and sharing appreciation and acknowledgement will encourage us to wake up and keep moving, to stay creative and hopeful. If not in school, perhaps in your home, your car, with family and friends, or alone with your cat, appreciate yourself and each other–maybe even twice a day.

Sieglinde Levery-Nicholas (she/her) is the Puget Sound Community School Director of Community Engagement & Admissions. She’s in her 12th year as an administrative director at PSCS and holds 19 years experience in non-profit and education administration, communications, development, admissions, and facilitation. Sieg volunteers with The Rhapsody Project and currently sits on the Board of Directors at Rain City Rock Camp.