Listening is Revolutionary

by | May 12, 2021 | ShiftHappens

There is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that inspires me:

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better. “

So much of our social discourse has dissolved into stalemates. Now more than ever, listening may be the most revolutionary heartivist act that any of us can undertake. To offer another person our attention and presence is a gift. 

I have written before about my belief that listening is more than being silent; it is the spaciousness to receive the words of another with the authentic expectation that something new and important will be shared. For most people I know (myself included), this is difficult. More often, we are filtering someone else’s words or actions through the perspective of our own unmet needs, preconceived judgments, or the defensiveness of our ego. 

As heartivists striving for connection, wholeness, and peace, the practice of cultivating discernment over judgment begins with listening and reflection. There is a practice from the study of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) I use to help me grow in this area. I find that intently thinking about my own needs and emotions in a difficult conversation, as well as trying to place myself in the mindset of the “other” helps shift my perspective significantly. (If you try this exercise, I would love to hear about your experience.) 

As I grow in my heartivist practice, I still sometimes feel anger, indignation, or grief at the suffering in the world; but I see those things, and my relationship to them, with clear eyes and less reactivity. 

This isn’t a warm and fuzzy addendum to social change. It is the very foundation of it. 

In the words of my hero, Martin Luther King Jr.,

“You can have no influence over those for whom you have underlying contempt.” 


Academic professionals Carla Forte Maiolino Molento and Rodrigo Morais-da-Silva founded Cell Ag Brazil at the end of 2023 with support received from The Pollination Project. The objective of the newly created association is to reflect, contribute, and promote the development of cellular agriculture in Brazil through proactive promotion and unifying actions among different audiences interested in the development, production, and commercialization of food through cell cultivation processes. 
With a seed grant, they founded the organization and designed a logo that represents their mission. They are now inviting people and organizations to participate in the association so that it gains greater relevance. 
Their members will be distributed across three chambers: 1) academia, 2) private sector, and 3) third sector and civil society. With this, they aim for diverse representation and to create a positive movement to act in different areas to promote and accelerate alternative proteins in Brazil and Latin America.
Billions of animals involved in food production in Brazil will be impacted in the medium to long term from this work. Data from IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) indicates that approximately 6.1 billion chickens, 56.5 million pigs, and 30 million cattle were slaughtered in Brazil in 2022. 
With this association, Carla and Rodrigo may help reduce the number of non-human individuals involved in food production as they help to speed up the replacement process with alternative proteins.
In this World Day of Social Justice we celebrate the transformative impact of The Pollination Project and our dedication to seeding the essential change our world needs. Since its inception, The Pollination Project has been at the forefront of empowering grassroots initiatives, providing the crucial support needed for small-scale projects to blossom into powerful agents of social change.

Our unique model of micro-granting has enabled a diverse array of projects across the globe, touching upon various facets of social justice including environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and human rights. From providing clean water solutions in remote villages to empowering women through education and entrepreneurship, we always believed in the power of individual action to create a collective impact.

Each project funded is a testament to our faith in the inherent goodness and potential of every person to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society. These initiatives not only address immediate community needs but also foster a culture of empathy, equity, and inclusiveness - essential pillars for achieving true social justice.

On this World Day of Social Justice, let's draw inspiration from the myriad projects The Pollination Project has nurtured. Their work reminds us that each small seed of kindness and action can indeed grow into a mighty force for good, paving the way for a more just and compassionate world.