Posted by frankieblackburn on October 5, 2010
For most of IMPACT’s twelve year life, we have struggled to find the one phrase that sums up our work. In the beginning , some argued that we were an “anti-racism effort”. Another group settled on “building bridges across our differences” and yet another thought the phrase “community empowerment” was the correct one.
About five years ago, we started focusing on the word “power” and have most often referred to our work as a power sharing model. When we use the phrase “power sharing”, we quickly offer our definition of power, saying that power is infinite and can be shared for the good of all.
This summer, almost by accident, I bumped into a relatively new book called Power and Love, A Theory and Practice of Social Change, by Adam Kahane. While I admire Mr. Kahane’s original work and writing, I am especially appreciative of his compilation of quotes and definitions from people like Paul Tillich and Martin Luther King. Please see how each of these great thinkers define Power and Love, stated below.
- Power is the drive of everything living to realize itself, with increasing intensity and extensity. It is the drive to achieve one’s purpose, to get one’s job done, to grow.
- Love is the drive towards the unity of the separated; the drive to reconnect and make whole that which appears or has become fragmented.
Martin Luther King:
- Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose
- Power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic.
After years of “social justice work”, I am listening to Paul and Martin and Adam: I am clear that to co-create new social realities we have to work with the two fundamental forces that are in tension – power and love. I hope to write more about the practical applications of what this means, but in very simple terms when it comes to the Neighborhood Opportunity Network:
- POWER: We must bring forth the power of residents in determining what they need and want for their neighborhoods and
- LOVE: We must work to connect, reconcile and negotiate these ideas with the well-established solutions flowing from our service delivery and community development systems.
My colleague Mary McCurty and I found this book and these quotes very helpful as we designed and thought about the work we are doing to help service providers, community organizers and resident leaders share power. I encourage you to read Mr. Kahane’s book – it is an easy read.
The chief service provider (Uma Ahluwalia) and an ace community organizer (Megan Moriarty) share power and love in the circle.
Posted in Community Connectors, Community Network Building, Empowerment Circles, Neighbors Exchange, Nonprofit Partners, Stories | 1 Comment »
Posted by frankieblackburn on October 5, 2010
When we first embarked on the Neighbors Campaign (now referred to as the Neighborhood Opportunity Network Initiative), we often referred to the effort as one in which we were building the plane while flying it. Along the way, we discovered that some of us had slightly different (or very different) ideas of our destination and some of us were not even on the same plane.
So, in an effort to move closer to a shared vision of change, the key leaders of this initiative spent 16 intense hours together during the month of September, building relationships, sharing specific visions, crafting common goals and outcomes, making requests and negotiating with each other around how to share our power and our love, going forward. (see blog post on our use of a Power and Love framework! I highly recommend it.)
- We are making progress! Yes we are!
We are pleased to report that we not only agreed on a common vision and destination, we also agreed on specific milestones we want to reach along the way and on how we will talk about this journey with others. (See the outcomes framework, posted on the blog). This is no small feat, given that the group of 18 people included social services providers from government and three large nonprofits, a faith community liaison, diverse community organizers and a local funder. (see list of participants posted under the resource section of the blog).
We are all committed to and can actively communicate about four outcomes:
- Residents and Service Professionals are Co-Investors in Neighborhood Opportunity Networks
- Real and Sustainable Access to Services
- Thriving Neighborhood Centers
- Thriving Neighborhood Networks of Mutual Support
Envisioning proposed outcomes in real life; how will it work?
As one of the designers/organizers of these 16 hours, here are some of my reflections. By the way, three others have been asked to share their reflections, each from a different participant perspective.
Some things we did right:
- Insisting on an 8 hour session on a Saturday and insisting on meeting weekly for three weeks – time, space and momentum.
- Asking a sub-team of diverse perspectives to prepare a draft framework.
- Providing a healthy mix of relationship building and taking action.
- Creating welcoming environment for each session, with lots of subliminal messaging on the walls (big grin!).
Some things I would change:
- Participants went door knocking together prior to the beginning of the sessions.
- Neighbor corps graduates and community connectors participated, in some shape or form.
- Holding each meeting in each of the three Neighborhood Center sites.
- Creating better documentation of comments, stories and reflections – as the process unfolded.
My biggest new awareness:
- You can’t expect things from people and institutions if you do not make a clear request.
- People are more capable of opening up than we give them credit for.
- In group process, let everyone speak, going around the room one by one.
My most joyful moments:
- When a key leader and partner on the direct services side said, I have been moved from thinking it is more about neighborhood networks and less about services.
- When one the people more resistant to the group process said, I really like the posters on the while; they kept me grounded when I couldn’t focus on the discussion.
Posted in Asset Allies, Community Connectors, Community Network Building, Coordinators, Door Knocking, Economic Empowerment, Empowerment Circles, Gaithersburg, Long Branch, Neighbors Exchange, Nonprofit Partners | Leave a Comment »
Posted by irakowler on October 5, 2010
Last Thursday, 9/30, we held a Neighbors Exchange at Argyle Middle School. The Exchange was the first step in a partnership between the Neighborhood Opportunity Network and Argyle. Not only were residents able to get questions answered about the school system, but they also learned more about some resources in their community, including Montgomery Works, the Neighborhood Service Center, TAYA Health Connection, and Montgomery Cares. We also found some resources in our community, including Angel, a parent at Argyle who shared some information about affordable housing, and Cordelia, a neighbor who informed everyone about the Montgomery County bus system.
Neighbors sharing information in the Argyle Media Center
The most exciting part of the partnership was that the Argyle team went door knocking last Saturday! The team included Principal Robby Dodd, Assistant Principal Sundra Mann, and two Argyle teachers, Ms. Hooper and Ms. Johnson. We went out the the neighborhoods on Bel Pre Rd. and met with some parents of Argyle students. I went out with Principal Dodd and it was amazing that he knew every student and parent whose door we knocked.
Celebrating the start of a fantastic door knocking day!
Everyone really enjoyed door knocking and the Neighbors Exchange. We hope they were both just the start of a long-term relationship between IMPACT and Argyle. Keep checking with the blog to see all the exciting things that will be happening at Argyle over the school year!
Posted in Coordinators | Leave a Comment »