Be The Earth attended the EDGE Funders Alliance 2023 conference, ‘Funding Boldly: Systemic Change and Alternatives’, held on October 18-20 2023 in Berlin. We discovered a brave space for building community and shifting the field of philanthropy towards systemic alternatives, with a wide array of opportunities for funders like us to participate, share, learn, and build solidarity.
Transforming the field of philanthropy is a central element of Be The Earth’s mission. We are proud and active members of the EDGE Funders Alliance, a network of 320 donors, foundation officers, trustees and advisors, spread across more than 30 countries, that organises within philanthropy to raise awareness and deepen understanding of the interconnected nature of the social, economic and ecological crises threatening the future of all life on Earth.
‘Funding Boldly: Systemic Change and Alternatives’ is a conference that centres voices at the sidelines and embraces challenging conversations to help address the profound imbalance of power and resources across the world today. The EDGE alliance strives to increase resources for communities and movements creating systemic change alternatives, for a transition to a society centred around justice, equity and the wellbeing of the planet.
The conference was held at Oyoun in Berlin, a non-profit cultural centre that highlights decolonial, queer feminist and migrant perspectives. One fifth of conference participants came from an activist or social movement background.
We found ourselves enriched and inspired by this community and the scope of ambition for such essential and transformative work. Attendees from all around the world became visibly energised as they sparked new connections with each other.
This was a brave and pioneering space where people did not shrink away from formidable and emotionally-charged issues as the workshops and panels addressed crucial topics – often rooted in trauma and anger – head on.
An appetite for change
The diverse programme of sessions covered a range of themes and opportunities within the philanthropy space. Most were centred around three broad themes: money and interrogating its sources; how to shift power in philanthropy while acknowledging past harm; and focusing on alternative models, practices and visions of the world and their multitudes. All three showcased the potential for impactful initiatives and deep transformations.
We were tremendously inspired by the great appetite for change that was so powerfully evident among the attendees. Corridor conversations revealed a deeply-held collective desire to reshape the philanthropic landscape while macro-level discussions explored root causes, not just symptoms, and how we can transition from being part of the problem to being part of the solution.
Food for thought
There were many moments to savour throughout this event. Julian Corner, CEO of Lankelly Chase, a British foundation who are leading radical change by distributing their entire £130 million endowment, encouraged our community to uplift each other's efforts while letting go of outdated accumulation paradigms.
Emilia Reyes from the NGO Equidad in Mexico, and Misun Woo from the Asian and Pacific Forum of Women led an exciting discussion around a framework for a feminist macro-economy. Be The Earth is guided by the feminine and strives to advance paradigms of feminine leadership, so this theme resonates strongly with us.
A captivating presentation by Dr. Ramatu Bangura of the Children's Right Innovation Fund highlighted the power of storytelling, using an integrated perspective of community work centred on children. We felt encouraged by this perspective to continue our focus on storytelling as means to touching hearts, expanding minds and inspiring more hands to help build a better future for all life on Earth.
A brighter future
We know that money alone cannot address the issues caused by an excessive focus on wealth. To paraphrase Einstein, you cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them. A shift in mindset is imperative when discussing future economies. Conferences like these provide valuable alternative perspectives and drive forward our collective intention to manifest the changes we all want to see in the world.
Be The Earth is honored to be part of this collective effort. We express our heartfelt appreciation to the entire EDGE community. Their commitment to meaningful change is inspiring and we feel deep gratitude to the EDGE team for their dedication in planning this event. We are so looking forward to next year!
If you’d like to find out more about EDGE or become a part of their transformative work, we warmly encourage you to visit their website.