“Is there really One Boston? Boston Strong? Is the violence that occurs on a day-to-day basis acceptable? Is the reaction and response to violence different depending on where it happens or whom it happens to? Have we become desensitized to ‘regular violence’?” These are the questions the Blackstonian newspaper raises in a report detailing the 237 shootings in Boston since the Marathon bombings. Read the rest of this entry »
— MAG-Net (@mediaaction) February 27, 2014
Picking up where Gibrán’s post about our interior condition left us last week and my recent viewing of César Chávez, I wanted to lift up a description of love offered by staff of LUPE on a visit I took there last fall. “Love is a process, not a destination. Love is a set of actions that arise from an emotional state or a cognitive commitment.” Recently, I wrote about the power of strong emotions to create the space for breakthroughs. Today, I want to focus on the processes and commitments rather than the emotional states related to love.
When I read and listen to the reflections of people who are deeply committed to social justice, I am struck by their commitment to engaging with people and engaging the struggle in ways that proceeds from a powerful internal compass, even in the face of strong resistance. Think of the standard bearers of nonviolence during the Civil Rights Movement, who practiced non-retaliation in the face of attacks. Think of the painstaking and beautiful reconciliation process in the wake of Sierre Leon’s civil war, where the restoring right relationship between perpetrators and victims began with a public expression of remorse and a request for forgiveness.
In these cases and many others, there was as much attention to the interior condition of the people involved as there was to designing the processes by which they would catalyze change.
How are you attending to your own interior condition as you work for justice? How are you encouraging others to attend to theirs? How does that translate into processes that embody your commitments to love?
We talk a lot at IISC about the power of love as a force for social change. But what about anger? I’ve seen a couple of recent examples where anger—cleanly and clearly expressed—created space for breakthroughs that I don’t think would have happened otherwise. Anger helped people in power to “get it” about something that they had not otherwise “gotten” when the volume and heat were lower.
What do IISC’s lenses of networks, power and love have to do with breastfeeding? Turns out, a lot! I had the privilege of facilitating the second annual First Food Forum: Every Child, Every Mother, Every One of Us, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its first food grantees. Participants connected the dots between networks, power and love in powerful ways. Love is probably the easiest connection to make.
Lumumba, a founding member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and a widely respected human rights attorney, was in the initial stages of launching a sweeping set of economic reform initiatives, built on a foundation of broad-based civic participation in Jackson.
Bill Gates’ 2014 annual letter debunks three myths about poverty and foreign aid. It reminds me about the power of narrative to drive decision making and action, even when the narrative is not backed up by facts. Here are the debunked myths in short form. Read the full letter for the longer version.
At IISC, we began the year with some heavy-duty thinking. We’ll be writing about those ideas in future posts. Today, I want to tip my hat to my colleagues and to IISC’s Board of Directors. After spending a day on Board business, our Board members spent a day with the staff thinking about emerging new directions for IISC.
The most inspiring book I read in 2013 was Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and A Vision for Change, by Congressman and Civil Rights legend, John Lewis. He built the book around several practices that are essential for social justice work: faith, patience, study, truth, peace, love and reconciliation. Read the rest of this entry »
The following post has been reblogged from our friend Kim Klien. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
“I would love to give to the Film Festival, but I really have to devote all my giving to my children’s public school.” This sentence, said by a long-time donor in response to a request for funding renewal from a board member at a local Film Festival, helped to start a project called “Nonprofits Talking Taxes.” Starting about 10 years ago, many of us started to hear things like this from our donors. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Friday, Curtis posted a clip by Brene Brown. She argues that “empathy fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection.” I want to take her thinking one step further. Empathy fuels connection. Lack of empathy fuels injustice.
VIDEO LINK: South Africans speak to the Meaning of Mandela
We join the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela; a giant of a man; the very embodiment of the intimate link between power, networks and love. His grace and humility was unrivaled, his insistence on reconciliation was an inspiration to millions. Read the rest of this entry »
Much has been written and said in the past month about President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I think the one important gift President Kennedy gave the country was a certain hopefulness about what people could do at their best and what government could do at its best. Listen (starting at 36:30) to an excerpt from President Kennedy’s inaugural address, read by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. He enjoins the listeners to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” In these days of Washington gridlock and partisan gamesmanship, it’s a message we can stand to hear afresh!
Like Indigenous People’s Day (aka Columbus Day), Thanksgiving is fraught with historically inaccurate mythology. Check out these children’s books that tell a different story, from the point of view of Native Americans. And, if you’re in New England, consider joining United American Indians of New England for the 44th National Day of Mourning. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most important courses I took in college was Justice with Michael Sandel. (These days, anyone can “take” the whole course on video.) In a TED talk, Sandel spells out a way to think about justice and a way to improve democratic discourse. Here are a few highlights from the talk:
Since my recent visit to LUPE in San Juan, Texas, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes LUPE’s community union model so different from most of our efforts (IISC’s and the social sector at large). César Chávez spelled described the core premise succinctly. “From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.”
I just started reading Playing God: Redeeming the gift of power by Andy Crouch, thanks to a book reading group at my church, Grace Chapel. I’m already drawn in by the premise that power is a gift and by his central question: How do we use our power to make people and things around us flourish?
In middle and high school, I challenged (and most likely annoyed) my teachers around this time of the year. I went to school in Plymouth, MA and wondered out loud why Native Americans would want to celebrate Columbus Day. “Shouldn’t it be a day of mourning for them?” I’d ask. I don’t recall any teacher having a good answer to my question or even being willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.
We often focus on the understanding of power as a process and as a social construct rather than a fixed asset. As Beth Roy says, “power is not something you have; it’s something you do.”
I have been thinking about today’s post for days. But, with the possible shutdown of the federal government, I wanted to raise a few questions and concerns. We have a (theoretically) representative form of government, which begs the question whose interests are actually being represented by the gridlock in Washington? Read the rest of this entry »
We partnered with a foundation as they built a network of leaders who shared a deep passion for their city. In the beginning, many of the leaders wanted to do something together quickly. We encouraged them to pause, build deeper relationships, and see what emerged. Read the rest of this entry »
The following blog post is Part 3 of a series dedicated to Race and Social Transformation. We encourage you to share and comment!
Transforming racism is hard work! The complexity doesn’t automatically mean current efforts aren’t working. Still, many are searching for new ways to deepen their effectiveness. At IISC, we see focusing both on content (what can we do about racism) and process (how we engage with one another) as a powerful way forward. Consider a few examples that flow from our practice.
The following blog post is Part 2 of a series dedicated to Race and Social Transformation. We encourage you to share and comment!
Race and racism continue to be defining features of U.S. society. As such, they show up in most of our projects, either explicitly or implicitly.
The following blog post is Part 1 of a series dedicated to Race and Social Transformation. Special thanks to Gibrán Rivera, Miriam Messinger, Curtis Ogden, Sara Oaklander, Mistinguette Smith and Maanav Thakore for their support in completing this series! We encourage you to share and comment!
In the U.S., the work of transforming racism is often stuck in an unproductive binary: either transform people or transform systems. Fortunately, more and more people recognize that we have do both and more. Read the rest of this entry »
We facilitated a network focused on improving early childhood education and care. The initial focus was to build leadership capacity and facilitate strategy development with stakeholders across a state to design a more holistic statewide structure for decision-making related to early childhood. Read the rest of this entry »
Thanks to our friends at Colorlines.org for calling this post to our attention! Read on and ask yourself, what does it take to be able to create this kind of a “teachable moment” with such poise, grace and clarity.
Thanks to our colleagues at the Economic Policy Institute for “Unfinished March”—an initiative highlighting the original demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the work that still remains unfinished. Decide for yourself how many of the demands have been met and what’s still on our collective to-do list. Read the entire report here.
Enjoy this TED talk by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as she explains the power of a single story to define and limit our humanity. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Here’s to telling our many stories in a way that affirms all of our humanity.
Hope you enjoy this article as much as we did! It’s a great illustration of the kinds of connections we need to make between movements–in this case immigrant rights and environmental sustainability–to stand a chance of seeing the kinds of transformation we’re seeking.
The following post has been reblogged from Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner. We hope you enjoy this post along with some of his other blog posts!
If you were to see my calendar, you’d probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what’s going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections reflect “buffers,” or time periods I’ve purposely kept clear of meetings.
I walk by this tree every so often and have been struck by the power of its roots to move the grate meant to contain them and to break the concrete meant to cover them. What are your roots? How are they giving you the power to break free from constraints?
The following post has been reblogged from our friend Rob Fletcher at Quixote Consulting. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Play can easily get short-changed in daily work. Like music and arts education in schools, when budgets, deadlines and tempers are tight, it’s the first thing to go. Play is so important to me and yet I notice the number of posts I write about persistence go up and up…but not so much about play.
The following blogpost was rebloged from our friends at Speaking Presence. We ope you enjoy it as much as we did!
(This article, in its original form, was written in 2009 and posted on my website: www.riverways.com. I’ve since reworked it slightly and wanted to share it in this blog space. The three people described below are each composites of a number of clients who have come through my public speaking programs and services.)
Jane was bright, experienced, and the only female on her work team. Frustrated, she felt that nothing she said at team meetings was taken seriously and her participation was frequently discounted or ignored. When she came to me, she wanted to become more visible as a strong member of her team.
Shout out to our colleagues at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center for their Youth Racial Healing Project—making the connections between health, social determinants of health and racism; making the connections between what folks know, see and feel; and making the deep connections between young people across racial differences.
Our colleague Bill Traynor describes essential inputs and outcomes of network organizing. See what you think!
In a recent presentation to the Ways and Means Staff of The Community Builders, we discussed the primary inputs and resulting added value that the Network Organizing practice can bring to a service environment. This slide captures the essence of this.
Twelve year old Adora Svitak called for mutual respect and reciprocal learning between adults and kids. Her TED bio calls her a “child prodigy” but I think that exceptionalizes her talents and perspective and implies that she is very unlike her peers. I think she models a poise and wisdom that is all around us if we just look for it.
Here’s a little taste of her talk.
I made a decision not to worry.
I began to understand that
it was a habit of my mind.
My heart doesn’t worry,
my body doesn’t worry,
only my head does.
I chose to establish a new habit
of consideration and trust—
trust that people are
and that the universe
could operate without
my constant nagging
~ Akaya Windwood
The following post has been reblogged from our friends at yes! Magazine. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Nature surrounds us with expressions of the organizing principles that make possible life’s exceptional resilience, capacity for adaptation, creative innovation, and vibrant abundance.” Read on as David Korten outlines how paying attention to natural systems can help us develop human systems that will sustain us for the long haul.
As they neared their 15th anniversary, the Case Foundation published “To be Fearless” as both a reflection on its work and a challenge to philanthropy and the social sector. The following are excerpts from this report, written by Cynthia Gibson and Brad Rourke for the Case Foundation. (“To Be Fearless,” The Case Foundation, 2012.)
The following post has been reblogged from our friends at Community Change Inc. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Community Change, Inc. is a Boston-based resource for people working for racial justice. Enjoy this resource from their series “Creating the Counter-Narrative, challenging the post-racial, colorblind public discourse on race and racism.” Enjoy this talk by Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance and of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.
The following post has been reblogged from Pinnacle Performance Improvement Worldwide e-newsletter. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
“We need to slow down; stop, look, listen and appreciate the talent around us.” – Sam Zell, Chairman, Equity Group International
“Is there room for our souls in this holy season?” — The Reverend Samuel T. Lloyd III, Priest-In-Charge, Trinity Church in the City of Boston
“Justice is when…
- The well-being of all people is prioritized on an individual and collective level
- All people and communities have enough to prosper and there is interdependence
- All people have dignity, safety and security
- Land, wealth and power are equitably distributed
- Mechanisms of power and decision making are transparent and accountable, and led by those most marginalized”
Thanks to Beth Tener for pointing me in the direction of this graphic from Occupy NYC. The headline reads: “Let’s acknowledge the reality: The future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. Our increasingly interconnected world obscures the underlying truth that all of our grievances are connected.” What connections do you see between economic inequality, ecological irresponsibility, concentrations of political and economic power, racism, sexism, and more? How are you making those connections real in your life and your work? (P.S. Click on this hyperlink if you want to see the article that follows the graphic).
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.
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.
“No good work is ever done while the heart is hot and anxious and fretted.” Olive Schreiner
I couldn’t agree more! We’re fond of a related quote that “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Bill O’Brien
I know that it’s hard for me to do good work when I’m fretful, exhausted or feeling insecure.
The following blog post was reblogged from Emergent By Design. We hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!
*Our source was initially and inadvertently omitted. We apologize for the mistake.
I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of organizations over the years that want to shift their culture to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable. The article we are posting below is about changing culture in general. What specific applications do you see for shifting organizational culture toward greater diversity, inclusiveness and equity?
Years ago, Bob Moses of the Algebra Project gave me some feedback I response to my request. He said “You have to make peace with the fact that there’s more to do than you can get done.” I’ve been trying to make that peace ever since!
What helps you to “finish each day and be done with it?” What gets in the way?
Beth O’Neill, of Interaction Associates recently led a session on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). It’s the only thing she has seen in her many years as a coach and consultant that actually helps people change beliefs. NLP gets at the deep structure of what we’re trying to communicate, rather than focusing on what comes out at surface structure of our communication. It explores how our thoughts, actions and feelings work together right now to produce our experience. It’s a practical way to get at the unconscious, looking at what’s running our patterns, and creating opportunities for us to make conscious changes that bring forth the outcomes we seek.
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
The following poem was written by John O’Donohue, from his last book, To Bless the Space Between Us
May the gift of leadership awaken in you as a vocation,
Keep you mindful of the providence that calls you to serve.
As high over the mountains the eagle spreads its wings,
May your perspective be larger than the view from the foothills.
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
The following post was re-blogged from Working Wikily written by Dana O’Donovan. We hope that you find it as inspiring and enriching as we did.
The key themes of the 2012 Social Impact Exchange were all about collaboration. Collective intelligence. Community solutions. Needle-moving collaborations. Collective impact. Much has been made of this new brand of collaboration and it was clear at SIEX12 that many of us who spend our days (and nights) looking for ways to scale solutions to our most vexing social problems see enormous potential in this approach.
In this post, Jeremy Liu (an esteemed IISC Board member) encourages the community development field “to figure out how to embrace the strengths of our past as a movement, even more so than becoming more established as an industry.” I think this is wise advice for many fields in the nonprofit sector, where so many organizations and institutions emerged from resistance movements and have passed through various stages of institutionalization and even bureaucratization. Jeremy ends with an important invitation for the community development field that could easily be for all of us: “it will continue to be important for our field to question itself, to ask itself what we want to create for our communities, to ask ourselves how to best achieve that vision for the future. We must be prepared to put aside past industrial practices and perhaps embrace emergence and people once again.”
We spend a lot of time at IISC thinking about how to talk about and practice love as a force for social change. Mike Edwards claimed in 2003 that “that the future of our world depends on how successful we are in developing and applying a new social science of love… applied in and through the systems that are essential to the functioning of all successful societies…[This kind of love is best illuminated by Rev. Dr.] Martin Luther King’s philosophy of the “love that does justice”, signifying the deliberate cultivation of mutually-reinforcing cycles of personal and systemic change…
For those of you who follow our blog or know IISC, you know that our founding Executive Director, Marianne Hughes, will soon transition out of her role. Today is our last staff meeting together with Marianne. We will mark the moment with ritual, celebration and a meal. We will invite our whole selves into the experience, just as we have been invited to bring our whole selves to IISC’s community and work over the years.
“Fatima Amarshi, Executive Director of the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society that runs the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, began her spring appeal letter with this wonderful quote from jazz guitarist.
You’ve heard that “it takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a village to make an IISC engagement happen. I want to raise up a shout out and express my grateful for the excellence with which our colleagues do the detailed behind-the-scenes work that makes IISC’s practice possible.
Two things reminded me of the power of design and physical space this week. First, in a workshop for Juvenile Justice leaders, the 12 participants were seated at three tables. It was a cozy arrangement and the tables were useful for handling the volume of materials they were using. After a morning focused on race, class and culture dialogue skills, we brought the chairs together in a circle in the front of the room to close a segment of the conversation. I asked folks how that arrangement felt and they say “Good!!” There’s nothing like removing physical barriers and enabling everyone to see everyone else easily to foster relational and conversational intimacy!
Racial justice work can be soul depleting or soul enriching. A lot depends on how we do the work and who we do it with.
Last week, six of us from the Boston area gathered to reflect on our experiences at Transforming Race. Sponsored by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Transforming Race brought together academics, students, advocates and leaders of a wide range of nonprofit organizations to explore Visions of Change. We were challenged to consider: What would a generation or two of racial progress look like? What seeds of change are in place right now? How do we get from here to there? The theme was inspiring all by itself, and the many speakers, workshops and activities engaged our hearts as well as our and minds. All of that was very good.
We often focus on the understanding of power as a process and as a social construct. As Beth Roy says, “power is not something you have; it’s something you do.” I was struck by a contrast as I listened to a brief story this morning about Lyndon B. Johnson.
Biographer Robert Caro described Johnson as having “no power” as Vice President because the Kennedy’s didn’t want him to have any. When President Kennedy was assassinated, he suddenly had all the power conferred by that office. Read the rest of this entry »
Periodically, we lift up the work of organizations working at the grassroots. Project HIP HOP (Highways Into the Past – History, Organizing and Power) is a youth-led organization that works at the intersection of arts and organizing.
I picked this up from a Facebook Friend this morning. Apt description of too much of our national (un)civil discourse. At IISC, we have the privilege of working every day with folks who are crafting alternatives to these dangers. What alternatives are you working on?
Last week, I had the privilege of spending a few hours with a delegation from Egypt—four young men who were involved in the April 6th revolution and continue to work for democracy in Egypt. They were at the end of a three week tour of the U.S. focused on the role of social media in politics and elections.They were frankly surprised that here, in the country that gave birth to Facebook, Twitter and Google, we not doing more with social media to advance our democracy. Their visit with IISC was to focus on some of the social technology that fuels social change work. Still, I thought to myself, “No pressure!”
“We are all called to be warriors of love for transformation.” That’s how Billy Wimsatt closed the Transforming Race conference. “If we’re transforming race, gender, America, we’re doing it from the place of fiercest love.” This is a love for one’s community, oneself, one’s planet and all people that can’t stand idle while people are suffering. A love that won’t tolerate the exclusion or marginalization or degradation of others.
At Transforming Race, Dr. Vandana Shiva started her talk with a provocative comment. “I don’t know why the love for monoculture and the love for power are so intimately connected.” She went on to detail the calculated efforts of the British to subjugate the Indian people, in part by imposing the production of cash crops, destroying their ability to produce food and destroying their markets.
“ What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans.”
-Excerpt from The New Jim Crow
In 2010, IISC had the privilege of work with Raab Associates to facilitate the development of Boston’s Climate Action Plan. Boston Latin School’s Youth Climate Action Network figured prominently in the development of a very successful community engagement session for Boston’s young people. They continue to move forward. Check them out! Here’s an excerpt of their presentation…
“We are the children of Martin and Malcolm. Black, white, brown, yellow. Our birthright is to be creators of history. Our right, our duty is to shape the world with a new dream… We have to begin to thinking of ourselves, we are the ones who are going to shape the world with a new dream. The old American Dream was based so much on exploitation of the earth and of other peoples. So our revolution can’t be the way that we thought of revolution to acquire more things; our revolution has to be one that grows our souls.”
“In the 1960s all hell broke loose… The media called it a “riot.” The black community called it a revolution… Rebellion was an explosion of anger. Revolution was a tremendous leap forward, a tremendous evolution of consciousness and responsibility; a whole new way of thinking…We have the opportunity to change our thinking and our philosophy by understanding what is really happening; what time it is on the clock of the world.”
This is the 26th official celebration of the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember the struggle to establish the holiday and wonder what Dr. King himself might think of what it has become.