Global Connect! Gender Justice Writing Project

Part: 4

Mothers on the Move Signals Solidarity in South Bronx

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Page 2 of 2

Although Salaman had been organizing in the South Bronx many years before, she didn't become the executive director of Mothers on the Move until 2002 and "sacrifice" is what she has been doing for the past nine years.

"When I took the position, I had a white man as a co-director and he had different relationships with funders than I will ever have," says Salaman. As a woman of color, Salaman feels like she was not prepared for the position. All she knew is that she wanted to make changes but didn't really understand how much it was going to take and all the skills she needed to have. Salaman wanted to be outside with people, that is what she knew how to do as a resident of the South Bronx herself. She would later find out that that was not going to pay the bills of her organization.

Salaman was up against a lot when she took on the position, not only was she the youngest leader and had a different organizing style; she was also Black Latina women with no status. This meant that she had to get creative, know who her allies where and create relationships with people.

What she created instead was a transparent organization that can make it through the toughest economic times. Everyone in her organization can read the financial reports understanding how much money they have at any given time as well as decide when they need to collectively fundraise or come up with a different strategy.

This is a major accomplishment for Salaman and the South Bronx. "My accomplishments at the end of the day have nothing to do with the work but the transformation a person goes through because of the work." says Salaman. Salaman recently cried after seeing one of her co-workers Nova Strachan singing in a play, her dream come true.

Another major accomplishment for Salaman is that Mothers on the Move is turning 20 years old next year. In preparation for the big celebration, Salaman is combining self-care into her sustainability and fundraising agenda. She is also is taking Mothers on the Move to the next level and going green.

As I walked into her office today, I was greeted by over 20 summer youth employees that have organized a farmers market for the community and had installed an herb wall in the meeting space that they will be harvesting throughout the year.

Building a green economy is part of Salamans strategy for personal, organizational and community self care and sustainability.

"The South Bronx has the biggest food market in the world and although it's kicking our ass because the community gets the poorest fruits and vegetables, we are going to use it to our advantage and grow fruits and vegetables, herbs and make food to counteract its impact on the community".

Not only is Salaman going green, but also Salaman is committed to doing it differently. She is going to put herself first, know her limits and be 100 pounds lighter. But, she doesn't want to do it alone.

This year, Salaman will be organizing healing support circles as part of her plan.

"I want to do a women's group because we have to cry, we need to build sisterhood, break bread and share stories that is the only way we are going to build trust. Only then can I say, 'I can do this project because we are on the same page and have the same vision.'"

Salaman is asking other executive directors to join her and learn from her mistakes. "Please don't think you can do this on your own. It's good to have solidarity. We need to hold each other's hand and not compete."


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Series Overview

Global Connect! Gender Justice Writing Project

Part: 9

A Woman In the Pursuit of Justice

Part: 8

Lives Cut Short: Trafficking from Mexico to New York

Part: 7

Family and Work: An Immigrant Woman's Dilemma

Part: 6

Poverty Is not Folklore for Indigenous Mexican Women

Part: 5

Bronx Playwright Creates to Engage Her Community

Part: 4

Mothers on the Move Signals Solidarity in South Bronx

Part: 3

Limitations of Language: A Barrier for mothers to overcome

Part: 2

A Mother is Murdered; Suspect Flees Again

Part: 1

Leaders Who Are Women of Color: Take a Deep Breath