Posted in Structural Transformation

July 12, 2011

Exploded Democracy

I recently came upon the following abstract of a paper we presented at the Sutures Conference in the University of Toronto back in 2003.  I was intrigued by the continuing relevance of the concept and how these ideas continue to inform my work: Read More

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June 7, 2011

Power and Priorities

“You don’t understand, the United States will not be making cars.”  The film Climate Refugees quotes President Roosevelt speaking to auto executives at the outset of World War II.  Most of us know about the mobilization of American industry to build a war machine capable of defeating the Axis Powers.  Fewer of us understand what it took. Read More

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June 2, 2011

Systems Thinking and Racial Justice

“Moving from a transactional to a transformational paradigm requires structural change.”

– john a. powell

Systems Thinking and Racial Justice Featuring Professor john powell from Bella Celnik on Vimeo.

Much appreciation goes out to our friends and colleagues in the Leadership Learning Community for hosting this May 16th webinar with esteemed Professor john powell, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study on Race and Ethnicity, and the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  IISC has been privileged to have partnered in the past with staff of Kirwan to shed light on the complex systemic nature and inter-sectional realities of racialized outcomes in our country.  You can also check out other interviews, like this one, with Professor powell.

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May 16, 2011

95% Failure

Photo by: vincentevanpig

I was just talking to a scientist friend of mine.  He told me, and I quote, that “unfortunately, in science, we fail 95% of the time, we inch along towards a breakthrough.”  There is a lot of good talk about failure lately, but I don’t think I had ever heard it this way before.  When I heard him say that I felt like I wished it was a widely known fact. Read More

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January 25, 2011

Voices Calling

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We at IISC have the privilege of witnessing heartful, sometimes heart wrenching dialogue about critical issues in our world from multiple perspectives. We work with passionate laypeople and professionals focused on education, environment and sustainability, public health, peace and justice, youth development, racial justice, city planning and community development, to name a few disciplines.

I’m encouraged by a few themes that are coming up more and more in our work. And, I’m even more encouraged that increasingly, they are emerging as imperatives, not just “nice ideas.”  As we facilitate processes and bear witness to the struggle to bring forth justice, here are some of the voices we’ve heard calling out: Read More

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December 14, 2010

No Labels

The “No Labels” political effort feels more like the work of well resourced spin doctors than an emergent political movement that can address the paralyzing institutional polarization that might bring our country to its knees.  I was struck by this quote from a New York Times story focused on Bloomberg’s role:

In fact, though, the rise of the independents represents a movement in exactly the opposite direction — away from party organizations altogether…  This isn’t so much a political phenomenon as it is a cultural one. In the last decade or so, the Web has created an increasingly decentralized and customized society, in which a new generation of voters seems less aligned, generally, with large institutions. MoveOn.org and the Tea Party groups, for instance, were born as protests against the establishments of both parties, and they empowered citizens to create their own agendas, rather than relying on any elected leadership. Read More

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July 21, 2010

Power and Love

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photo by partie traumatic

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.  Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This often quoted comment by Dr. King forms the foundation of Adam Kahane’s new book,  Love and Power: A theory and practice of social change. Melinda Weekes and I attended a recent book talk by Adam, attracted to the topic because, at IISC we’ve been thinking through and practicing the connections among power, love, networks and collaboration for years now.  Much of what Adam shared resonates with our thinking. The book builds on the thinking of theologian Paul Tillich.   His definitions are worth taking a closer look:

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May 26, 2010

Building a Bridge

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|Photo by eqqman|http://www.flickr.com/photos/eqqman/17854302/sizes/m/|

Based on the recent conversation we’ve been having here, I thought I’d re-post from last April.

For a while, I’ve been fairly unsuccessfully trying to create a space in my apartment that works both for my heart and for my head. My meditation cushion is there as well as my altar and poetry and spiritual books. It also has my desk, computer and bookshelves overstuffed with books and journals about power, white privilege, race, class, genocide, conflict and social issues. If I’m honest, it’s the most chaotic room in my apartment.

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May 25, 2010

Policy and Community

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My recent post on the limits of policy elicited a very good conversation.  One of the things that became evident is that in some settings people are so focused on their personal development and their community life that they pay little attention to the issues of the day.  In other settings people are so focused on the fight for justice through policy change that they pay little attention to their own well being or to the hard work of building community. Read More

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May 7, 2010

Our Bodies Carry Our Histories With Us

(A re-posting from June 2009)

One of the blessings I’ve experienced in our social change work as process experts and professional facilitators is the exposure we get to have to various fields of social change work. Since last October, my colleague Andrea and I have had the pleasure of consulting with an amazing collaborative of stakeholders, the Springfield Health Equity Initiative, who have determined to build a plan to reduce the incidence of diabetes in the black and brown neighborhoods in the city of Springfield, MA. Even more boldly, these dedicated and thoughtful leaders have also chosen to take up an analysis for their work that incorporates how systemic, government sanctioned, racial discrimination has  played a direct role in creating the egregious disparities in health outcomes we see today among black and brown folk in the U.S., and regardless of class. Read More

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April 6, 2010

Community and Happiness

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DISCLAIMER:  Dear Progressive friends, I have not sold out!  I still believe in economic justice and I remain painfully aware of the racialized outcomes of poverty.

I feel like part of my mission in life is to expand the lens with which we look at our quest for social transformation.  One of the points I keep harping on is the point that happiness matters.  And this is why a recent David Brooks column caught my attention. Read More

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January 15, 2010

King Day Reflection: Haiti, Katrina & Our Values

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|Public Domain|http://publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com/2009/01/dr-martin-luther-king-jr.html|

Haiti. I’m sure I’m not the only one who watches with profound sadness at the loss of life and devastation by way of natural disaster and makes direct comparisons to the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and its blow to the precious people of New Orleans.

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