Keeping our promisesOctober 28, 2013 4 Comments
“We can’t retreat, we will win… We are winning because our revolution is one of the mind and the heart.” César E. Chávez
During a visit to LUPE, the community union founded by César E. Chávez and the United Farm Workers, Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Partner Organizations of Color explored the connections between child welfare, juvenile justice, community organizing and immigration. One participant spoke a word of caution to capacity builders and organizers who seek to engage and mobilize community residents. “We can’t be another broken promise to the people.”
As we design and facilitate processes through which people who are most affected by the pressing issues of our day can make change, I believe we hold an almost sacred responsibility to make those experiences worthy of the hope that people invest in them. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently as I struggle with processes that are “better than the standard way of doing business” because they attempt to engage people who are most on the margins, but are still far from having the decisions be driven by those most affected. I have found myself struggling with how to deal with the constraints of such processes without breaking that sacred promise to create spaces where people can speak their truths powerfully and pursue the changes they think are most important. Sometimes I’m caught between wanting to make such a process “as good as it can be under the circumstances” and wanting to walk away because “as good” may not be good enough.
How are you, as capacity builders, facilitators, network builders or organizers wrestling with this challenge? How do you hold yourself accountable? Have you ever walked away from a project because it seemed more of a promise-breaker than anything else?