Hi, my name is Virginia Weihs.  I live in Seattle, where I have been active in praxis groups and the RG Seattle chapter leadership team for the last two years, and I recently started a position as a POC (People of Color) Organizing Fellow with RG. I am 28 years old, mixed race — Chinese-American and white — and grew up in a wealthy family. This blog post shares a little more about my own journey to RG, and the tools, perspective, and power that joining RG has given to me.

Before having the powerful lens of class to understand my own experience, having privilege felt both like a hugely formative part of my life, and also like something that was very difficult to wrap my mind around.  Growing up in a loving family with two doctor parents, I never had any doubts about being able to get my needs met, and the opportunities I had for education, exploration, and self-discovery felt practically endless.  A lot of the time, I took these things for granted, but sometimes, my own good fortune was thrown into sharp relief.  Even in the world of wealthy neighborhoods and private school I was a part of, where it would seem easy to avoid the understanding that people lived any other way, there were truths about the exclusivity and privilege of our lives that could never stay fully concealed.  For me, I think these truths came up most powerfully in the subtle, small moments — the awkward conversation about which brands of jeans our families bought with one of my few classmates whose family wasn’t wealthy; the tension on our private school bus rides home between the bus driver who refused to indulge the antics of students, and the students who loved to heckle him anyway; the brief interactions with the domestic workers who cleaned my family’s home and the homes of my friends — a normal part of the background of our busy lives.

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We received this informative infographic from our friend Jaelynn Ficarra at the Finance Degree Center. They have put together a great graphic highlighting Americans’ perceptions of inequality versus the startling reality of the Unites States’s wealth disparities. With inequality issues like this we need tax justice now!

Check out the graphic after the break.

The Finance Degree Center is dedicated to educating the public about finance and issues surrounding the financial industry in America.

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Note: These thoughts are mine and not RG’s as a whole, RG policy or anything of the sort. Important questions that complicate my argument are at the bottom.

I wanna start a conversation. It touches on one of the issues I have struggled with1 and continue to grapple with as a young(ish) adult, and what I see as one of the biggest struggles and questions many of our RG members with inherited wealth face as we graduate college and enter the job market. I don’t think there are easy answers, I think we are faced with a set of tough choices. I am excited to put out my thinking as cleanly and clearly as I can and am hoping this starts lots of interesting discussion that makes us all smarter. Continue reading

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  1. In my twenties I worked a low-paying job with Americorp, part-time jobs as an after-school teacher and other work that barely covered my bills. I was able to do this because I could use or borrow a thousand dollars here and a thousand dollars there from my trust fund or family to cover my expenses. Questions like, how much should I be working? and how much money do I need to make? were constantly on my mind. 

photo credit: CASEY TOTH — newsobserver.com

This spring, RG members from North Carolina participated in Moral Mondays—huge weekly gatherings opposing an extreme right wing agenda that successfully cut taxes on the rich and corporations, raised taxes on the bottom 80% of income earners, and drastically limited access to unemployment benefits, Medicaid, food assistance, abortions, and the right to vote.  The plan will leave the state short of $700 million per year, guaranteeing future cuts to education and other social programs. While Moral Mondays weren’t successful at stopping the tax and program cuts, momentum from the organizing has expanded into strong grassroots organizing for racial and economic justice throughout the state. Continue reading

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Liz Sullivan is on RG’s Board, and is a leader in our work with partners of young people with wealth.

I didn’t ease gracefully into being a partner of a young person with wealth. It was more like I stumbled and landed into the identity with a thud, a bewildered look of “how did I end up here and what do I do now?” on my face.

At first, it was easy to just ignore the fact that Alex had access to wealth – it certainly had nothing to do with me. When he went to family meetings twice a year, I admittedly didn’t ask many questions and when other people asked I told them something vague along the lines of “They have a family coach and they talk about taxes, I think.” This doesn’t mean there wasn’t an emotional charge to conversations around money; after one of these family meetings, Alex came home and handed me a book, saying “My parents thought you might find this helpful.” I looked down at the title, “Prenups for Lovers.” I literally threw the book across the room and said some choice words. Like I said, my transition was a little rough. Continue reading

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At RG, we like experiments. Really our whole existence as an organization is an experiment in what’s possible. Can we really organize young wealthy people for justice? What will that take? Can we do it with true cross-class leadership? In accountable, powerful and healthy ways?

These have been the questions we’ve been asking since we were founded in 1998 and we keep on pushing the envelope trying to stretch the limit of what’s possible.

A recent experiment in aligning our fundraising with our values happened this Spring with our first ever Movement Match. Continue reading

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I highly recommend readers to also watch the following 27 minute speech by Nandita Das, an Indian actress and social activist, on the meaning of identity and “the other” in today’s world.

Juggling multiple identities can be both a rough and empowering experience at many levels. And I don’t mean in the sense of the struggles of having multiple personalities. This blog post is not about that (although that psychological condition needs the recognition it deserves in it’s own right). I am talking about something that is more common in the world today – that is, the complexities of having multiple identities when one is also privileged. Many of us live in many worlds – whether as a result of class, race, sexual orientation, gender, one’s profession, choices, or otherwise. However, we also live in a world where there is a deep lack of recognition of the complexities of a person’s identity, a world in which things placed in neatly labelled boxes is the norm. In this blog, I attempt to provide a background on the vastly different aspects of my own identity, my struggles with it, as well as my attempt to use it in a positive manner.

My foray into having multiple identities started at the very young age of 6 months, when my family moved to Lusaka, Zambia. Continue reading

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The Philadelphia chapter of Resource Generation was recently published in the Non-Profit Quarterly, Philly.com, and Newsworks.org writing about how traditional philanthropy is harming Philly schools.  They call for higher taxes on the rich and democratic processes of public school funding to replace private decisions by wealthy individuals.

Read the whole piece below, and listen to an interview by RG Member Sarah Burgess here.

Philanthropy Won’t Save Philly schools; Rich People Should Pay More Taxes Continue reading

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This post is written by Emily Duma and Joe Kruse, two members of the RG Leadership Team in Minneapolis, MN. 

EMILY : Living in an intentional community, I get a lot of strange looks from relatives when I explain what I’m doing with my life. And when I tell them that I share money with my roommates, in a “common purse” set-up, they really think I’ve gone off the deep end. Which is quite ironic, actually, as practicing a common purse has been one of the most liberating, practical and life-giving things to happen to me post-college.

A little background on the community I live in: About two years ago, Joe, myself and two others decided to form an intentional community oriented around simplicity, sustainability and social change work in Minneapolis, MN. We call ourselves the Rye House (feel free to go to www.theryehouse.org if you want to see our dorky website), and in various ways attempt to use our skills, energy, cooking and home to support and enrich our community, stand in solidarity with those around us, and transform ourselves into folks who do more good, listen harder, and maybe feel a little more liberated in the process. Connecting with good people here in the Twin Cities quickly lead us to RG, and Joe and I joined a praxis group, as we wanted to examine the economic privilege we’d both been raised in and around.  It was through this relationship that we were asked to write this blog post.

How does the common purse work? Continue reading

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  I attended my first Resource Generation retreat, Making Money Make Change, in the Fall of 2010 at a retreat center nestled in the redwoods outside of San Jose, California. I spent those four days immersed in the stories of young people with wealth taking bold action, learning about powerful organizing across the U.S., getting to tell my full story for what felt like the first time. So much newness, so many new ideas and possibilities – all of this created this sense of expansiveness I had never experienced but had been so hungry for.

Three years later, RG has become a central part of my political life, a place where I can count on finding depth, trust, incisive questioning and a deep sense of home. In my conversations with folks who are new to RG, I often find myself claiming that “MMMC changed my life”. A little dramatic yes, but as cliché as it sounds, I say it because there’s a real current of truth in that – at the time I don’t think it felt that BIG and HUGE really, but attending MMMC that fall really did shift the course of my life. I can see how the political education and personal work that happened there, the possibilities it opened up, set so many of parts of my life in motion that are now indelible parts of my identity. This work, started at MMMC, is how I gave away my first major donations, how I started talking openly about my class background, how I started to become a part of social movements from a place of self-awareness rather than hiding.

So what happened at the conference? I cameto MMMC looking for political education around class privilege. I wanted to figure out how to give away the money I inherited in an ethical way, and in all honesty, wash my hands of it. But what I walked away from the conference with was what RG staff emphasized throughout that weekend – it’s not enough to take individual action; we need a critical mass of politically developed young people with wealth ready to throw down for movements that matter in order to change the shape of the economic power structures in this country. We need people who materially benefit from unjust power structures standing alongside and within grassroots movements for social change. At MMMC I was challenged to take on the task of organizing my people – to see organizing other young people with privilege, my family & my community, as a crucial part of the long, slow work of toppling the economic and political power structures of our country. So much of what I experienced prior to that around class was about hiding, about pushing and shaming, self-denying and guilt.

 MMMC is important. It’s a place to step away from our daily contexts, to go deep, to make connections, to get inspired. If you’ve never been to a national RG gathering, it’s a place to encounter the growing numbers of young people with wealth who are changing the shape of giving and organizing in this country and beyond. And maybe like me, you’ll find new openings, new paths and possibilities. Wherever it takes you, I look forward to walking that road alongside you!

Making Money Make Change is happening this year in Western Connecticut, Nov. 7-10. You can register at www.makingmoneymakechange.org before October 18th. Because MMMC has become very popular in recent years, we currently have a wait list. However, we anticipate that many people from the wait list will indeed be able to attend.  At this time we are holding attendance slots for young people of color with wealth, working-, middle-class and poor partners of young people with wealth, and confirmed pod leaders. Whether or not you identify with one of these categories, you should join the wait list. For more information, contact retreat director Tiffany Brown at tiffany@resourcegeneration.org.

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