How We Show Up

Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community


By Mia Birdsong

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An Invitation to Community and Models for Connection

After almost every presentation activist and writer Mia Birdsong gives to executives, think tanks, and policy makers, one of those leaders quietly confesses how much they long for the profound community she describes. They have family, friends, and colleagues, yet they still feel like they’re standing alone. They’re “winning” at the American Dream, but they’re lonely, disconnected, and unsatisfied.

It seems counterintuitive that living the “good life”–the well-paying job, the nuclear family, the upward mobility–can make us feel isolated and unhappy. But in a divided America, where only a quarter of us know our neighbors and everyone is either a winner or a loser, we’ve forgotten the key element that helped us make progress in the first place: community. In this provocative, groundbreaking work, Mia Birdsong shows that what separates us isn’t only the ever-present injustices built around race, class, gender, values, and beliefs, but also our denial of our interdependence and need for belonging. In response to the fear and discomfort we feel, we’ve built walls, and instead of leaning on each other, we find ourselves leaning on concrete.

Through research, interviews, and stories of lived experience, How We Show Up returns us to our inherent connectedness where we find strength, safety, and support in vulnerability and generosity, in asking for help, and in being accountable. Showing up–literally and figuratively–points us toward the promise of our collective vitality and leads us to the liberated well-being we all want.

  • "Mia Birdsong is one of our most important thinkers and strategists for how we build structures to support the families that we actually have and the kinds of families we would build if we weren't all so obsessed with respectability. This book gives us both the vision and the blueprint for how to do this in ways that feel sustainable, and quite frankly otherworldly. I left this book feeling something I haven't felt in a long time...hopeful. "
    Brittney Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
  • "Mia Birdsong's deeply personal book calls forth a deeply public truth: that we're all better off when we're all better off. Her search for the meaning of community and belonging will inspire Americans from many walks to show up in a new way."
    Eric Liu, CEO of Citizen University and author of Become America
  • "This is a the book we've all been waiting for about the 'craft'--and that's what Mia Birdsong so insightfully names it--of creating community. She's a master craftswoman herself--gathering stories of such intentionality, honesty, and reliability that you will immediately start living your life more radically and reaping the rewards."
    Courtney E. Martin, author of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream
  • "This book is a blueprint to being vulnerable enough to love harder, dig deeper and be unafraid to redefine and expand our relationships. A beautiful and helpful piece of work. "
    Tiq Milan, writer and LGBTQ advocate

On Sale
Jun 2, 2020
Page Count
272 pages
Hachette Go

Mia Birdsong

About the Author

Mia Birdsong is an activist, facilitator, and storyteller. A Senior Fellow of the Economic Security Project, she was also an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute and New American California Fellow. She was founding Co-Director of Family Story and Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative, Mia speaks widely at conferences and gatherings across the country. She lives with her loved ones on the occupied land of the Chochenyo Ohlone people (AKA Oakland, CA). Read more about her work at

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