Belonging Counts!

Submitted by Liz Weaver on March 10, 2014 - 7:57am
Deep Conversations in Alberta

Over the course of the past week, I have been involved in a series of presentations and conversations about collective impact and community change.


These conversations have been diverse and rich. The big aha and gift I received today was that collective impact is in many ways about being and belonging in community. It is not about our individual programs, services, businesses and sales, but about the things we have in common. It is about coming to agreement about the hopes and fears that we have for our communities, our families and ourselves. This sounds a little out there, but bear with me.  

When we come together in a collective way to address a complex community problem, we are signalling that we care enough to do things together. That we want to belong to a community of people that is willing to step up and move forward. It is an important signal. We also are acknowledging that it takes more than one of us to get to the solution.  

Our experience with Vibrant Communities is that the issue of poverty is so complex, that each of us only holds a part of the solution and it is by coming together that we get clarity about how to act in a way that makes a difference. We have also learned that, in some way, we are both part of the problem and part of the solution. We belong to both parts and it is important to acknowledge our role and contributions to both parts.  

So let's link this back to collective impact. In the collective approach, we can find our way to belong - to both the problem and to the solution. We can also find those others who want to belong. And, we can find paths in for those who did not at first think that they belonged.  

It is the collective that is productive. John Ott has written a book called Collective Wisdom where he explores how belonging is essential to growing collective wisdom. It's a book that I want to re-read having spent a week with folks in Alberta who reminded me of the importance and wisdom in belonging.  



These are grounding and encouraging thoughts, Liz. Thanks for sharing!