Collective Impact Starting with One

November 30, 2012 4 Comments

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.

Shakti Butler shared this film clip recently at a forum she led in Boston called, “Connecting the Head and Heart: Building the Case for Equity,” and I love it so much that I’ve watched it several times since.

My colleague, Andrea Nagel, and I showed this film clip to a group of principals at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative last week to launch a conversation about the challenges and obstacles they must push on together (schools and community) to get to high quality schools in the Dudley neighborhood.

How often do we see something in our way or that we know is wrong and wait for someone else to remove the obstacle or fix the problem? How often do we look for who to blame? How often do we forget that the freedom we are fighting for takes many of us collaborating in ways that seem unlikely . . . and even forming unlikely connections that, if nurtured, turn into authentic relationships we can then rely on to push major change forward together? How often do we forget that one small action can lead to a sea change?


  • Thanks for this Jen! It’s a great reminder that sometimes you just have to start–even when it’s impossible for you to do the thing yourself. Just starting could be the thing that brings enough others together to actually get it done! In the words of the IISC theme song written by Chris Toppin, “just begin!”

  • Curtis says:

    Beautiful, Jen! It would be great to pair this with the video of “dancing man.” You need someone to “just begin,” and you need someone(s) to join in! In some ways, not so deep!

  • Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!|

  • Jen Willsea says:

    Hi Reuben, Thanks for visiting our blog and for your comment! Stay in touch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *