Posted in Structural Transformation

May 26, 2010

Building a Bridge


|Photo by eqqman||

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.

Leave a comment
May 25, 2010

Policy and Community


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

Leave a comment
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

Leave a comment
April 6, 2010

Community and Happiness


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

Leave a comment
January 15, 2010

King Day Reflection: Haiti, Katrina & Our Values


|Public Domain||

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.

Read More

November 20, 2009

Story of the Shoe Store Pink Slip

I heard a wonderful sacred story yesterday. It was shared by a member of SEIU’s in-house training arm (SEIU is the union representing service workers — janitors, custodians, parking attendants, homecare workers, etc.) in a conference I was asked to attend as a guest faculty member on behalf of IISC. The day began with a brilliant invitation to share personal stories exemplifying  “change” in our lives. The true story that follows was just one of many captivating, poignant, death-defying stories my ears had the pleasure of taking in yesterday. What an experience it was! Herein The Story of the Shoe Store Pink Slip (title mine), as told by “L”: Read More

November 3, 2009

Time for Transformation

I am an admiring fan of angel Kyodo williams and a few weeks ago she called my attention to a powerful blog post she wrote, “doing darkness,” it has been on my mind since.  I invite you to take the time to read and contemplate it.  Angel is inviting us to take a close look at the distinction between change and transformation.  She proposes – and I agree – that while change is something that can be undone with a shift in context, transformation is something that can not be undone.

This proposition appeals to my own commitment to the evolutionary paradigm, and to an idea of social movement that demands our conscious engagement with our own evolution.  Angel’s in an excellent articulation, and so I would rather you give your time to reading her piece than to anything else I could say about it.

Read More

Leave a comment
September 15, 2009

Bringing Honesty Back

One of the issues with the current funding system is that it tends to invite dishonesty from organizations seeking grants.  And perhaps we should not say dishonesty, but the system certainly makes it easy to fall into the temptation of overstating the case, of presenting an aspirational goal as an established reality.  This pattern is detrimental to everyone involved.  It hurts the funders who will not be able to meet their goals even if they believe they are funding with purpose.  It hurts those being served, organized or mobilized, and it certainly hurts the organizations who get caught in the game.

Part of the problem with the normalization of this often subtle dishonesty is that it actually keeps organizations from staring their own reality in the face.  As a consultant to all kinds of organizations, from foundations to the grassroots, I experience this insidious state of non-truth as a serious obstacle to my own work.  We can’t help an organization move if the organization can not be honest about where it is.  The situation forces us to spend a lot energy surfacing the truth, but if we were starting from truth then we would be able to use that energy to hit the ground running. Read More

Leave a comment
September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Eight years ago Today:

  • 8:46 am – AA Flight 11 hits the North Tower of the WTC 
  • 9:03 am – UA Flight 175 hits the South Tower
  • 9:37 am – AA Flight 77 hits the Pentagon
  • 9:59 am – South Tower falls
  • 10:03 am – UA Flight 93 crashes in Shanksville, PA  
  • 10:28 am – North Tower falls

As a nation of families, neighborhoods, communities and citizens, let’s pause to remember the lives and courage of the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives 8 years ago today, on September 11, 2001.

Read More

Leave a comment
August 17, 2009

Sand Dunes and Democracy

The debate about how to reform health care in the United States rages across the country in a series of town hall meetings, constant cable coverage and apparent confusion and misinformation. I have been watching all of this from the distance that you can only gain by being on vacation. And, because my family has vacationed in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on Cape Cod for the last 25 years, I have been reflecting on the messiness of democracy while walking the dunes of the national seashore and riding the waves on the protected beaches of this part of the Cape.

It is a powerful reminder of how advocacy, policy and structural change is at the heart of creating a more just and sustainable world. Had President John F. Kennedy not signed a bill in 1961 authorizing the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore, (the goal of which was “to preserve the natural and historic values of a portion of Cape Code for the inspiration and enjoyment of people all over the United States”), I could be meandering through condominiums, McMansions and strip malls. Read More

Leave a comment
August 4, 2009

What About You?

I was blown away by one of Adrienne Maree Brown’s blog posts last week.  In writing “consider it…” she manages to lift a veil and give us a glimpse into a way of being that is significantly more free.  I was blown away in so many ways, but I was particularly moved by the very fact that such words were coming from within our movement.  There is now a corner of movement work where you can find razor sharp analysis powerfully combined with an understanding of Self that is nothing short of illuminated, it is no longer an either/or, and this is good news for all of us.

As I spend more of my time calling out this zeitgeist, I am breathing myself into that part of the work where hope is vibrant, potentiality brews and generative forces insist on creating something new.  This is the part of paradigm shift that takes the idea of networks to another level by forcing us to contend with the unplannable and to devote more of our time to creating the conditions for emergence.  This is the part of paradigm shift that makes the highest demand of us as people – and how we think about this “us.”

Read More

Leave a comment
July 31, 2009

Social Entrepreneurs, Social Change, Government & You

Last week while in DC for a work assignment, I took time to connect with a brother-colleague and former professor of mine, Dr. Shaun Casey, who teaches Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, and served as Senior Advisor for Religious Affairs for the Obama Campaign.  As he is gearing up for another semester, he is also in he throes of promoting his new book,  The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy v. Nixon 1960 and finds himself  well suited to speak to the transformative historical moment and opportunity that is the Obama presidency.  As we caught up, shared stories from the campaign trail, and spoke of our common passion for public theology, transformative policy making and ushering in social change informed and fueled by the grassroots,  he shared of his enthusiasm for the  White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and for the work of Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for the White House Domestic Policy Council, Michele Jolin.

Mentioning her work as Vice President of Ashoka, and with the Center for American Progress, Casey shared how he was hopeful that office’s ability to appreciate the role of  harnessing the thinking and experience of community-based,  faith-based, and other grassroots located  change agents to build policy and enact solutions for  some of our most intractable national issues. He recommended that I contact her directly (which I will, so stay locked in to this blog site), and also that I check out a book she co-edited, Change for America. In the book, Casey makes this claim in an article he authored, and which collectively sets forth a blue print of recommendations to the Obama Administration for real…change.  I recommend you check it out as well, so that we may continue our blog conversations with it in mind. Read More

Leave a comment