This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Addressing Community Equity through Collective Impact requires a Deep Systemic Perspective

We can now move on to the Working with Communities on Racial Equity sector map and determining the best means of Working with communities to advance racial equity and eliminate disparities (map) but first, we need to build upon what has been covered to this point.

So far two other sector maps, Collective Impact as Tool for Systems Change and 4 Insights Collective Impact plus Community Engagement and Racial Equity, have been covered over the last two blog posts. Hopefully, covering each sector map on its own provides for a more coherent understanding than attempting to address the entire module 5 map at once which with fifty separate elements or resources and multiple connected relationships can be far too complex to be readily absorbed. While it remains unnecessary to click on every (map), there will be, in some cases, an expansion set upon what is being termed linchpin elements and therefore an enhancement of complexity.

At some point, though they all need to come together. The geographic analogy sometimes suggested can start to fall apart at this point. First, unlike the listed places of an itinerary for an expedition, all of the elements making up this module can all happen at once, not just with the elements of this module but all the modules making up this course. The elements demanding attention don't wait for their allotted week. Second, for the better, they can also be engaged strategically in an order, both internally for each sector map and among the sector maps, more closely matching the construction of the systems thinking iceberg. This is behind the rationale to go deeper with the inherent but arguably not so readily apparent systems thinking aspect of Collective Impact.

The path taken so far, not only in direction but also in what was focused on and what was left out, can also be questioned as being merely one of many that were possible. The Kumu map though does make this more apparent than the written narrative approach with which content is hidden behind links and the overall structure of which is never truly transparent.

The most comprehensive element in the current exploration is Racial Equity and Community Engagement in Collective Impact (map) which in the case of the Kumu map links to a Vimeo video instead of an EventBrite event for Living Cities hosting a webinar. These are people walking the walk, not merely mapping out the path so there is a far greater authenticity and relevant impact but creating maps from previous explorations and discoveries still serves a useful purpose. The presenters, from a variety of sectors, public health, major city government, local non-profit community group and the Strive partnership, which under the Living Cities narrative is a linchpin element or resource organization between Collective Impact as Tool for Systems Change and 4 Insights Collective Impact plus Community Engagement and Racial Equity, with another linchpin element or resource being the Living Cities Integration Initiative.

The element Why Involve Community in Collective Impact At All? (map), from the first module, helps in building an understanding of community needs by engaging grassroots community members to shape and guide collective impact initiatives and mitigate the potential disconnects that grass-tops leaders can face. It is arguably though from a grass-tops perspective because if from a grassroots perspective then the question would be how not why. There are an additional nine elements from the first module making a return visit to this the last module demonstrating that the supporting infrastructure for this effort goes deep and attention to them should not be lessened as having had been already addressed.

The What Makes Collective Impact a Powerful tool for Systems Change? (map) involves the four components that make potentially possible a variety of collective impact shared results such as reducing by 50% unemployment among working-age adults, whether serving communities with 9% unemployment rate or 19% unemployment rate. It is also a linchpin between Working with Communities on Racial Equity and theme of the central element for Collective Impact as Tool for Systems Change.

There is a sub-sector map, Evidence-Based Decisions extending out from the sector map Collective Impact as Tool for Systems Change suggesting again a deeper structure which also connects with What Makes Collective Impact a Powerful tool for Systems Change? and if extended an additional degree connects with all of the sector maps of this module.

There is then a need to collect disaggregated data by race (map) to build essential feedback loops (map) enabling collective impact work to address the persistent wide gap in educational attainment between white and non-white within an education system which is failing too many students of color, cradle to career. Despite the availability of data that could help, racial disparity seems to be hidden in plain sight, so we don't design solutions with the intention of addressing those disparities.

By Using Data to Close Achievement Gap (map), Portland was able to challenge a persistent urban myth that when it came to education, everything was going just fine with an overall graduation rate at about 80%, with only slight gaps separating white students and students of color. District leaders were able to adopt policies to embed analysis of these disparities as standard practice.

As Living Cities correctly asserts, however, both the head and heart are needed to understand the structural causes of racial inequality. A Head, Heart and Hands (HHH) framework (map), emphasizes developing an understanding of racial inequality using both logic and theory (the head) as well as the feelings and emotions from personal experiences (the heart) before moving to action by identifying solutions (the hands). Albuquerque’s My Brothers Keeper efforts in Unmuting the Voice of Youth of Color to Help Lead Social Change (map) applied this framework to hear directly from young men of color about their suggestions for improving the cradle to career pipeline.

This can be more in keeping with the softer systems thinking approaches explored through the NCP Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking, especially Exploring with the Dialogue, Deliberation and Systemic Transformation Community to Discover New Possibilities parts 1, 2 & 3. The follow-up, A Map for a Pathway to New Community Paradigms, illustrates the challenge of spanning these two systemic perspectives, hard data and soft connections, into one. This can potentially be extended even more deeply as discussed in The What, Why and How of Design Thinking and Collective Impact part 2 of 3, particularly with the potential of Art as a Path of Social Disruptive Innovation Towards New Community Paradigms. One newly discovered example and one that might add another H for healing to the Head, Heart and Hands (HHH) framework (map) is the group Hidden Voices.

Engaging with community members of color is critical then to ensuring that social change efforts are sensitive to the different lived experiences and historical contexts of people of color in the U.S.

Collective impact initiatives that target racially and ethnically diverse communities need community members of color to be “at the table” in the literal sense that is, as an integral part of the accountability and governance structures that define how the cross-sector partnership operates as explained by Needle-Moving Collective Impact Guide : Capacity and Structure, (map) one of Three Guides to Creating an Effective Community Collaborative for Needle-Moving Collective Impact by the Bridgespan Group.

Living Cities goes on to ask the question again (map), Why Involve Community in Collective Impact At All? (map). Their answer is that community members of color need to be engaged at least at the levels of involve, collaborate or co-lead to truly influence how collective impact efforts promote equity. However, the chart that Living Cities provides in the first article still does not include the promises made by both IAP2 and Tamarack which were raised at the start of this endeavor. This is not to suggest some failing by Living Cities, they are correct as far as they go but without the promise, the conversation is far more unilateral.

The Kumu map, instead refers back to the element, originally used in the first module, for the IAP2 community engagement continuum of goals (map) which has been reconfigured making it possible to jump to one of three different sector maps in which it plays a role.

Equitably partnering as established by a government institution such as a city hall with its community members could include, for example, offering two-way translation services to all stakeholders when working with non-English speakers. True equitable partnering though would involve community empowerment including on-the-street efforts such as Urban Habitat Boards & Commissions (map) providing explicit training to community members of color to occupy more formal positions of leadership locally. This then involves the continuing development of resources identified in Week 2 of this course (map) focused on Amplifying Voices of Community Members (map).

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