In July and August, I sought out individuals in my personal and professional network to contribute to a major paper I was writing on Collaborative Leadership and Co-Creating Cities of the Future. I sought out participation through Facebook, via a survey which I promoted in emails and through Twitter.
The paper was released last week at Tamarack’s Community Change Institute. It’s not a coincidence that it was titled: Cities of the Future: Co-Creating Tomorrow.
I have to say I was so pleased with the participation and the depth and range of responses. The narrative written by participants was so compelling, at least half of the paper is written in their own words and the remainder is presented in aggregate, through summary commentary. I do admit I might have thrown in my own point of view here and there, but the paper truly is one example of co-creation.
My co-authors are listed in the paper (at least those who granted me permission) and I am grateful to each and everyone.
Collaboration and Collaborative Leadership is not always easy; there is risk to writing a paper this way. This is one of those times, the risk was more than worth it.
I waspreparing for the community engagement learning event Tamarack was doing in Ottawa last month called Community Engagement: The Next Generation. One of the workshops I wanted to do was on engagement of marginalized populations, in particular those living in poverty. My exploration of this topic led me to some provocative writing by Vu Le, who is a writer, speaker, and executive director of Rainier Valley Corps, a capacity building organization with a focus on leveling the playing field for people of colour as well as small, grass roots organizations.
I was particularly drawn to a piece he wrote on his blog about “Trickle-Down Community Engagement,” and his writing became the catalyst for one of the workshops I am doing, aptly called “Avoiding Trickle-Down Community Engagement of the Marginalized.”
With minor paraphrasing here is what Vu Le wrote:
Trickle-Down Community Engagement is when professionals bypass the people who are most affected by issues and instead engage and fund large organizations and systems to tackle these issues, and hope that miraculously the people most affected will help out in the effort, usually for free and on our timelines, within our rules of engagement and end up grateful for our largesse.
It’s hard-hitting criticism but also too often the truth. I encourage you to read his postings on the topic. I did some thinking on the topic and I asked myself what causes trickle-down community engagement; why does it happen? I reflected on my own varied experiences of engaging people who are poor, homeless, and further marginalized by an illness or disability, lack of education, or by racism. Here are some of the reasons I came up with: Continue reading Trickle-Down Community Engagement→