Generational Co-Presencing: A Vision for a Radical and Life-Giving Ecosystem

Anthony Cruz Pantojas, Humanist Chaplain at Tufts and Co-Event Coordinator of Kindling the Humanist Spark (photo by Evan Clark)

In a world often characterized by division and rapid change, the call to listen across generational lines and nurture transgenerational initiatives rings louder than ever. This intentional partnership that focuses on co-presencing, or a deep witnessing and attentiveness of the fullness of our experiences grounds a vision of radical change. As such, what emerges when we center relationships, envision collectively, and leverage institutions in solidarity? Anthony Cruz Pantojas, Humanist Chaplain at Tufts, and Evan Clark, Executive Director of Atheists United, have embarked on a visionary journey to explore just that.

Kindling the Humanist Spark: Igniting a Network of Young Leaders hosted by the Humanist Chaplaincy and Atheists United at Tufts University on August 2-5, 2024, is more than a project; it is a manifesto for the future. Cruz Pantojas and Clark are pioneering a community of inquiry and practice that values mentorship, creativity, and existential care among young professionals and emerging leaders. This initiative is not confined by traditional boundaries but seeks to harness the full spectrum of human diversity and experiential learning, from science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics (STEAM) fields to exploring and connecting with natural spaces in the Boston metro.

Evan Clark, Executive Director of Atheists United and Co-Event Coordinator of Kindling the Humanist Spark

Clark emphasizes, “The urgency to center a thriving humanist movement has never been clearer. Movements thrive on the energy and creativity of young leaders—it’s an investment in both our current and future impact.”

The landscape they address is stark: a humanist movement grappling with an aging leadership demographic and a critical need to empower the next generation. Organizations like the Secular Student Alliance in the United States have laid foundations for young college student leaders, yet a gap remains for young adults (18-35) seeking ongoing support beyond their college years, particularly in Canada and the broader North American context.

Extending their goals from the “lack of sustained support risks stalling our momentum just when the challenges of Christian nationalism, global fascism, and the climate crisis demand proactive engagement.” The project aims to fill this void by creating spaces exclusively for young leaders, fostering networking opportunities, and providing mentorship workshops designed to amplify both local and national impact and sustainability.

The initiative extends beyond individual mentorship and networking. It aspires to catalyze broader coalitional consciousness-raising among humanists and beyond. At its core lies the belief that different generational knowledge enriches both personal and collective education, paving the way for deeper, more meaningful societal change.

The approach is practical yet profound, drawing from grassroots activism, personal narratives, and meaningful institutional support to articulate a theory of action for advancing humanist goals. Such a praxis aims to inspire a diverse audience to engage in transgenerational partnerships that transcend social categories of difference.

A Call to Action and Response-ability

As Cruz Pantojas and Clark prepare to host Kindling the Humanist Spark at Tufts University, they invite participants to join them in exploring the transformative potential of transgenerational co-presencing. Through moments of reflection, writing, and discussion, attendees will contribute to a shared vision of a future where young leaders are not just supported, but integral to shaping a thriving and response-able humanist movement.

In an era defined by flux and uncertainty, investing in youth leadership isn’t just prudent—it’s essential for sustaining and evolving movements that tackle the pressing issues of our time. Cruz Pantojas and Clark’s vision for radical, life-giving ecosystems rooted in solidarity and coalition building is a welcomed one in an increasingly fragmented world. As they forge this network, they remind us the future we imagine begins with the relationships we care for today.

For more information, or to register, visit Kindling the Humanist Spark: Igniting a Network of Young Leaders.