Today’s challenges require collaboration on a global scale previously unseen in human history. In Reos’ work partnering with organisations and communities to make critical transitions and advance systemic change, hope is instrumental to strengthening cooperation and building collective ideas for possible futures.
Reos team members from around the world offer reflections on the role of hope in their work.
In transformation efforts, both hope and imagination are crucial. Without either, how can we shift from where we are to where we need to be?
— Stephen Atkinson, Australia
I absolutely believe in the power of hope and the important role it plays in our work with diverse groups on complex social issues. As Elie Wiesel (Nobel prize winner, writer, philosopher, humanist and survivor of the Holocaust) said: “Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.” Hope gives us energy, a sense of openness and direction to move forward in a complex situation — all together, and leaving no one behind.
— Toa Maes, Netherlands
Hope for me is the ability to dream beyond the current situation and to encourage others to do the same. Much of the work we do at Reos does just this as we believe change is possible, and that we can do better collectively even when the odds seem to point to the opposite. Working with complex questions and players from across different systems, the power of community and collective action, and hope for tangible change is at the core of my day to day work. Hope inspires me to be resilient, kind, and supportive — as does my work at Reos.
— Kelly Matias, Brazil
I think our work in Reos is fueled by the audacity of hope — the sense that change and transformation of people and systems is always possible, even as we have no guarantee of a successful outcome. For me, this hope is not pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, but pragmatic hope, based on grounded experience of just what it takes for diverse teams of people to find ways to work together, and what is made possible when we are able to stay in and work things out in a relationship.
— Karen Goldberg, South Africa
For me, hope is deeply rooted in storytelling and our ability to hear from the experiences of others. That is where hope emerges.
— Nwanyibuife Obiako, Nigeria
Hope grounds me in the present reality (of inequities and …) and signals that it is within our power to transform our situation. The urgency to ensure a dignified life for all and address our climate crisis demands that we move from hope to collective action.
— Andrew Akpan, South Africa
To me, hope is the companion of ‘letting go of..’: when we work with systemic change, we learn that there is always a space beyond what we can control or influence, no matter how many people we involve. One of the ways to support ourselves in engaging and illuminating that unknown, vast, and at times scary space, is to keep hope alive, and share it.
— Giovanni Sgobaro, Switzerland
I believe that hope is a revolutionary act of resistance, of nonconformity, with everything that saddens, polarizes, and distances us. Living with hope is the retrieval of human dignity, as the forces that polarize us strive to imprison us in brutalization, animalization, and division.
— Guilherme Rodrigues, Brazil
When we’re working in complexity, hope means embracing the unknown — acknowledging that in uncertainty we can act and influence the future. I believe that our actions can have ripple effects that go beyond our own imagination. And that sometimes our influence stretches beyond generations.
— Yannick Wassmer, Netherlands
Convening groups of different people together and taking time to think, design, and rethink every detail of their interactions for it to maybe, maybe, produce new ideas, new connections, new thinking or new mindsets is the epitome of hope! At Reos we are all, in a way or another, “designers of Hope and designing for Hope,” as an answer to the uncertainty and complexity of the world in which we live today.— Mariam Semaan, Lebanon
In my work the role of hope is that it stands for my vision in the projects I engage in. It is a strong attractor that feeds my intention, action, and resilience, which has an impact on everyone else involved. What also helps me to stay grounded: ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.’
— Kawira Nyaga, Switzerland
For me, hope is the starting point. Hope alone may not be enough, but without it, I would not be able to do the work that I do. Every day, I hope that the seeds I am planting through this work will germinate and lead us in the right direction.
— Manuela Restrepo, Colombia
I see hope as complementary to the challenging and arduous work required to affect change in complex systems. It keeps many individuals addressing systemic social and environmental issues going, especially after setbacks and long periods of inaction or inequity. While hope will never directly solve these systemic challenges, it provides the inspiration and motivation to get up each day to address complex, deeply ingrained problems in the world
— Jon Walton, United States
Polarization has widened the distance between people with different perspectives. Active hope — a concept of our advocate for education Paulo Freire — inspires us to continue to actively pursue the collaborative path, finding and nurturing where we converge in addressing our collective challenges.
— Lucilene Danciguer, Brazil
I am grateful that through this work I get to meet extraordinary humans working in all fields of human endeavour to change things for the better. As I reflect on what I have learned from these individuals, I see hope as an important component of system transformation that sustains us and gives us strength and inspiration to imagine and work towards a better future.
— Gerardo Marquez, Canada