Systems, Not Individuals

The whole point of learning about the system of oppression was so that we could see how it organizes us. When you see how you and others are being organized by the logic of white supremacy, patriarchy, imperialism, and capitalism, then you are in a better position to develop an intervention – to fight back strategically rather than to merely react to what is loudest or most appalling.

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Don't Read This If You're a Funder: Evaluation REALNESS

Like all good pilots, we'd learned and corrected course as we went along, and while those course-corrections were documented, recommendations for what to do with specific objections were absent. WWMQPD? He'd roll up his sleeves and analyze each objective in turn, deriving useful recommendations as he went along. That made sense. I figured I'd just throw the nine objectives in to a table and write a few sentences about each one. No big deal, right?

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An Accidentally Virtual Community of Practice

Communities of Practice tend to go awry when conveners and/or facilitators are not adept at the core conceptual components required for success, and the more often this happens in the philanthropic sector, the less likely participants are to enter the Community of Practice space in an open and optimistic way.

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Internal Validity

Earlier in the week, I asked my students, "When was the last time you intentionally read something that you knew in advance you would strongly disagree with?" I got thirty-five blank stares. And I wasn't surprised. Under what circumstances in our contemporary American society would they come across a reason to do that? When they see something they don't like, they swipe left and it's gone.

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Rich Knapsack, Poor Knapsack

I know that the folks I'm talking with in this session will generally be more amenable to charging for a fundraising event or even engaging in fee-for-service with some of their training materials than this one simple thing, which just happens to be the thing that we talk about all the time when we talk about economic inequality: Wealthy people have the money. We need it. How do we get it?

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Failed Relationships, Sweat-Soaked Spreadsheets, and Uncomfortable Patronage Promises: A Look at the Public Office Pathway

I remember being asked to attend a small meeting years ago at a radical Bay Area grassroots organization. There were five other folks at the table, and I was surprised (and delighted) to see that one of them was a member of the Board of Supervisors. Later, I mentioned to the meeting organizer that I was impressed her org could just call up this big-city supervisor and get him to attend attend. She laughed and told me I had it all wrong – the supervisor had actually called the meeting; she'd just taken care of the logistics.

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Sisterhood Is Powerful, But So Is the White Racial Frame

On the night of the panel, we had a good turnout, with the crowd including resident-advocates, nonprofit professionals, and several grassroots leaders from our own Commissions Training Program cohort. The panel discussion was going well and picking up steam when an older African American man in the back raised his hand and was given the microphone. "I have a question," he started. "Why are there no men on this panel?"

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Verstehen: Meaningful Understanding

The need to engage verstehen (or empathic neutrality) is equally important whether my "subject" is someone with whom I'm already inclined to empathize (like the young woman in the park) or someone with whom it is very difficult for me to empathize. And so it was verstehen that I called upon later in the week when I found myself in the backseat of a cab being driven by an outspoken white nationalist.

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Champion-Thinking and Managing Up

I raised an eyebrow and commented off-handedly to a friend that I hoped that the new organization was making sure that long-time advocacy groups were at the planning table, since they were the ones who most understood not just the local terrain but also the root causes. My friend shot back with a surprising level passion, assuring me that the process would be authentic, that root causes would be central to all strategy, and that the money would be well spent.

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Better Together (Moving Really Fast and Strategically)

I'm with you, Senator Harris. Let's go! But, how? We can all agree that we must act quickly and strategically in the work we are doing right now to protect our communities, but the way forward is murky at best. Over the last few days I've been checking in with my clients, and in one way or another the conversation ultimately lands on, "What makes sense now?" As we've all pretty much figured out at this point, our "now" is wholly unlike any moment before.

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