Archive for November, 2012

Nov/30/12//Jen Willsea//Structural Transformation

Collective Impact Starting with One

I often feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of change that’s needed and how far we have to go to realize the just society we’re working towards. It can feel daunting and on a bad day, nearly impossible.

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Nov/28/12//Curtis Ogden//What We Are Reading

Leadership and Networks

If you have not already seen it, our friends at the Leadership Learning Community have published a rich new resource entitled “Leadership and Networks: New Ways of Developing Leadership in a Highly Connected World.”  Some of us at IISC contributed to this publication, directly and indirectly, and overall it seems to do a nice job of bringing together otherwise disparate stories about the power of networks in guiding leadership development and movements for change.  Here you will find brief overviews of instructive cases such as the Barr Fellows Network, Lawrence CommunityWorks, the RE-AMP Network, and KaBOOM!, along with a list of additional resources and readings.  I also appreciate how it explicitly builds the case for considering network approaches, including their ability to: Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/27/12//IISC//Structural Transformation

On Trojan Mice

The following post was written by Harold Jarche. An incredible and informative post, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

In Organizations don’t tweet, people do, Euan Semple talks about Trojan mice, an idea he got from Peter Fryer at These are small change initiatives, that do not require the coordinated effort of something like a Trojan horse:

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Nov/26/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Settle for Freedom

“If I can’t have what I want, I will settle for great free public education for every kid; fair wages for every kind of work; a guaranteed right to vote; an end to segregation in our hospitals, neighborhoods, airports, child welfare departments. I will settle for justice. I will settle for love. I will settle for freedom.”

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Nov/19/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Facing Race

A group of us from IISC attending Facing Race, the Applied Research Center’s bi-annual conference. For me (and many others, judging by the #FacingRace Twitter stream), it was an energizing, affirming and enlightening experience. Over the next few days, we will offer details about what we heard and learned. I want to begin with a few big picture ideas.

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Nov/16/12//Jen Willsea//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Cracking the Codes of Racial Inequity

I recently got to attend two events with racial equity educator and filmmaker, Shakti Butler, in Boston. Her new film, Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, is full of stories that help to paint the picture of how race and racism operate in the U.S. – at the internal, interpersonal, institutional and structural levels. Drawing on the work of john powell and others, Shakti emphasizes that racial inequities are constantly shapeshifting, that racism is a dynamic system with multiple layers functioning simultaneously, and that we are all wounded as a result.

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Nov/15/12//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Most Astounding Fact

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Nov/14/12//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Be Aware of Boundaries

Seeing the words “Critical Systems Heuristics” may tempt you to run screaming from this post, but please hang in there while I distill what this important framework and addition to the systems thinking body of work has to offer our social change efforts!  CSH is attributed to Swiss social scientist Werner Ulrich and his efforts to bring critical analysis to the boundaries that we construct around and within systems.  Far from being primordial, these boundaries and divisions are an expression of what people see and value from their particular perspectives.  As Ulrich writes, ” The methodological core idea [of CSH] is that all problem definitions, proposals for improvement, and evaluations of outcomes depend on prior judgments about the relevant whole system to be looked at.”  His effort is to help make these boundary judgments explicit so that both those affected by and those implementing such judgements might see alternatives that better serve the whole. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/13/12//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation


Today we often use the word extraordinary to refer to something amazing, something great.  The overwhelming re-election of the nation’s first Black President through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is a truly extraordinary event.

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Nov/12/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Say What?

In the discussion of my post from last week about human connections across political divides, we were exploring the challenge of engaging with people whose views we do not share or even necessarily respect, without disrespecting the person or doing damage to relationships. This week, a young woman named Denise Helms gave me a real challenge.

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Nov/07/12//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Embracing Restraint

A couple of days ago my colleague Cynthia Parker blogged about the challenge and importance of staying connected across political divides.  The conversation that has ensued seems especially relevant to where we stand right now, the day after the elections, faced with what some fear will be an increasingly polarized country.  No matter where we may fall along political lines, there are strong feelings on all sides about what is the “right” direction for our country and how to get there.  In this increasingly mediatized world, it is very tempting and easy to stand behind our computers and cast aspersions at one another.  And all this does is continue to fray the already worn social fabric.  How do we continue to recognize that we are all in this together, like it or not, and that respecting our collective humanity is a baseline for progress? Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/05/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Spiritual Activism

Human connections, political divides

I don’t usually find listening to public radio overly stressful, but this weekend’s edition of This American Life had me churning. The episode Red State Blue State featured a series of stories of relationships among friends, family members, neighbors and more that were damaged or severed over political affiliations and whom they intended to vote for. In a country where most people live in communities that are largely blue or red, people with minority political views in their community need increasing courage to speak their convictions, or even, sometimes just to live their lives. I found the story of a pair of sisters especially heartbreaking.

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Nov/01/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Undoing racism-By Design

On virtually every indicator of individual and community health and well-being, people of color in the U.S. experience worse outcomes and more barriers to success than their white counterparts. Intervening to reverse these trends requires intention and attention: intentionality about understanding the historic and present-day manifestations of racism and attention to effective ways to intervene.

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