Jason Fredlund '21 Hits the Road to Work Toward Justice
December 6, 2022
When Jason Fredlund, MA ’21, parked his vintage RV on a side street in Brooklyn, NY, earlier this year, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for his life and ministry.
As a Racial Justice Educator & Equity Consultant, most of Jason’s work is virtual these days, but the RV gives him the option to travel — working “remote” from anywhere. It means that he can drive into a community and explore, make connections, build relationships, and “dwell among” the folks he’s working with. That side street in Brooklyn where he “urban-camped” for five days was around the corner from the church where he co-facilitated a racial justice retreat. Traveling and staying in the RV was cost-effective, and it meant he could be more intentional about his relationship with the church, worshiping together on Sunday after the retreat was over, having lunch with one of the co-pastors, and attending a small group gathering the following day.
Reflecting on the experience, Jason said, “The RV is fun! And it also feels sacred. It’s quite literally the answer to many prayers — the coming to fruition of a vision for my ministry and consulting practice.” Jason feels humbled and grateful about his work with organizations and faith communities seeking to develop visions and plans to create a more just and loving future. The added benefit of having a mobile home/office — and the ability to ‘set up shop’ in neighborhoods across the country — opens the door to all kinds of in-person opportunities and adventures.
In 2019-2020, Jason was part of Hartford International University’s International Peacemaking graduate certificate program, which attracts primarily international students. When COVID-19 hit in March, the campus shut down all in-person programming and arrangements were made for international students to immediately return to their home countries. Although Jason’s home is only a mile from the HIU campus, he remembers this experience as “sudden and disorientating.” Of course, the academic curriculum continued online, but the residential community created within the program was dismantled and, seemingly overnight, all his classmates and fellow IPP cohort students were gone.
As the pandemic rolled on, Jason saw an opportunity to extend his time at HIU by getting his MA in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality. Jason’s education and experience from HIU has had tremendous impact on his life, work, and relationships. “My time at HIU was a really important piece of my own journey towards healing and wholeness,” he said.
As a queer person of faith, raised in a tradition of Christian conservatism, Jason has often felt like an "outsider" in communities of faith. HIU was a place where he found the freedom to explore his own identities and the connections between his faith and commitments to justice. “The community at HIU was so welcoming and affirming; it’s been healing to be a part of the HIU family. It allowed me to show up, for myself, and with others, in ways I had been fearful of showing up in the past. This diverse, multifaith community has been such a gift to me personally and spiritually.”
Jason was quick to share about the practical skills and professional network he gained at HIU which have led to deeper and more impactful experiences in his work. As an independent contractor, Jason works on lots of different projects in addition to faith-based and interfaith ministry. In his role as a consultant to the Department of Race & Equity in a local school district, he works directly with educators and administrators to support the overall goal of eradicating racism and making equity the norm. Whether he’s engaging with the board of directors for a small nonprofit, the staff of a philanthropic foundation, or a classroom of young people, Jason believes that the heart of his work is about human dignity and connection.
“I believe that all people deserve love, respect, and the right to self-determination,” Jason said. “It’s a joy and honor to journey alongside individuals and institutions committed to identifying and transforming systems of racism and oppression that limit people from living full and abundant lives and dim the light of the Divine that is imprinted on each of us.”
Jason has mix of emotions about his hopes and fears for the future. He knows that oppressive systems won’t change overnight, but systems are maintained and upheld by people — and people can change. Jason hopes that we see our own lives, work, and relationships as a place to practice the world as it ought to be, even amid the world as it is.
In a world where hate, injustice, and misunderstanding are the norm, we can practice love, justice, and radical truth-telling. The practice and cultivation of these ways of being at the small scale helps to create the pattern and blueprint for what is possible at the large scale. So, when problems feel big and overwhelming, Jason grounds himself in the goodness of his Creator, leans into the love (and complexity) of community, and reminds himself that changed people can change systems.