Tag Archives: power

Sabbatical

I’m Working for a Healthy City

Mpls/St.Paul

I focus my skills and time on making my city a healthy city, playing a supporting role to the countless others also doing that work.

So what does that mean?

I offered a preview of my future work in my previous sabbatical post. As I hinted there, my work will be local, it will explicitly foster “equity,” it will focus on practial and specific goals, and I will use a network approach.

But what do I mean when I say “healthy city?” And given all that needs doing, what principles will I use to choose where to pitch in?

A healthy city works for every person in it, particularly those with less access to resources. Image credit: Ethan Cherin

A healthy city works for every person in it, particularly those with less access to resources.
Image credit: Ethan Cherin

Defining a Healthy City

I have something specific in mind when I say “healthy city.” It is not the Minneapolis and St. Paul that exists today, although we have some bright spots we can grow.

A healthy city works for every person in it, particularly people with less access to resources.

To work for everyone, it must respect each person’s self-defined identity and support each person’s self-determination.

That means each person, whatever their identity, feels respected in the design of spaces, in interactions, and in having access to the benefits of living in the city. It also means each person feels respected as they work toward personal and community goals and in voicing their own needs.

No individual’s self-defined identity or self-determination can disrespect that of others. The city can’t work for me or for us if it doesn’t work for everyone.

Only in this healthy city can each person contribute to the city to their fullest, in their own unique way.

We don’t have this city today. Systemic oppression of Native and Black people is a fact, documented through our “worst in nation” racial disparities ranking. It’s a fact for all people of color, doubly so for women and queer people of color. While my work spans all sorts of power and inclusion, I see race as a fundamental issue that has to be integrated into everything.

Three Principles for Achieving a Healthy City

These principles guide how I invest my time and focus my work. I’m sharing a bright spot that illustrates each one, something we can learn from and borrow from. read more »

Sabbatical

New Ideas Emerging

seedlings sprout

Image credit: Jon Sullivan

On a recent Saturday, I offered a four-hour invitation to Come and Think About Hard Things in a facilitated discussion. Read to the end to find out what action I’m taking in response to their support and encouragement.

I was honored that 20 members of my professional (and personal) community came out to support me. I like to think my commitment to relationships and people in the past means my community is there for me – complex reciprocity at it’s best. And, it’s humbling.

the group

Four hours, on a Saturday in May

(Thanks to Lisa for facilitating, and to Michael for helping design the agenda and frame up my presentation.)

After a little getting to know one another, I offered my current thinking about the work I’d like to do [with others].

  1. First, I shared my idea of a healthy community, which is a place that achieves two specific goals. It must respect each person’s self-defined identity, in the design of spaces, in interactions with others, and offering reasonable access to the benefits of the city. It must also respect the self-determination of each person as they work towards personal and community goals, and as they voice their own needs.
  2. Second, I offered three guiding principles about how to get there, illustrating them each with local examples. We must remedy historical imbalances of power, naming them, rebalancing them, and redressing the compound interest that has already accumulated. Then, we must align our actions with our values, patiently and consistently acting with integrity. Finally, we must knit our community together, across racial, physical, and other gaps.
  3. Third, I shared why I think a network weaving approach offers the radical challenge to our current way of doing business that we’ll need to make the shift I hope for. Besides accelerating the great work that is already happening, it’s an approach that explicitly acknowledges that the patterns of relationships are replicated at all levels. It isn’t possible to build a balanced, healthy system on top of an unbalanced, unhealthy relationships.

I closed by asking people to explore this framework with me, both on the Saturday we were together and throughout the summer. (I am reworking my presentation to address some of the comments, and I will share that here.) read more »

Network Weaving

The Power of the Invitation

 

inaugural invitation

Imagine how it feels to get this.

Invitations are powerful.

Invitations signify who is invited, and powerfully indicate who is not. Invitations communicate who is valued, who is part of the in-crowd, and who is not. (Do you still remember that third grade birthday party you didn’t get invited to and how it stung? Or the friend who didn’t invite you to their wedding?)

As a network weaver, invitations are one of my key tools. It is almost a super-power. I spend a significant amount of time making personalized, specific invitations. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s critical because…

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