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chapter seven Grounded in Vision for the Long Haul

Stout, Linda Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.

ALBERT EINSTEIN

Anyone who has worked for social change for a few years (or, like me, for decades) has heard stories like the one I told about the nuclear freeze campaign in the preface: important groups and movements with many dedicated people working for them passionately become smaller and less effective—or disappear—over the long haul. Actually, most of the leaders go on to work in new or different groups or on different issues. But wouldn’t it be great to have organizations that continue to thrive and grow in capacity to support social change as our movements swell and start to achieve our dreams? I believe that we need cultural shifts about power and a positive focus, broad and specific cultivation of visionary leadership, and strategies for facing setbacks in order to build strong groups that help us reach our collective visions.

In chapter 5, I discussed how shifts in culture and consciousness are a critical way of making change. We also need cultural shifts in how we think about power and how we learn from past experiences. These shifts could strengthen many groups working for change.

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contents

Stout, Linda Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
Medium 9781605098821

chapter six Creating a Road Map: Vision to Action

Stout, Linda Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If it can be imagined then surely it can be created, too.

DAVID HICKS

A vision works only if we create a plan for how to accomplish it—a road map to get to our goal. Because we know the place we’re moving toward, we have more patience if the road detours or if we encounter flat tires, dead batteries, or other stops and starts as we move toward our vision.

Vision grounds and leads our work for change. However, without action it stays “just pretend,” as one of the Rethink kids said. The kind of action that comes out of a collective vision is different from the reactive or defensive action we too often see. It empowers people to have hope and to take action together. It takes people beyond what they might think of if the action is grounded only in current reality. With vision, we tap into intuitive, creative knowledge that allows us to think outside of the box. It allows us to think of new ways of working, create inspired solutions, and be more open to opportunities that arise.

Sometimes people are resistant to making long-term plans because they think doing so locks them into one way of working and does not leave the flexibility to change in the moment. This is not true: we can respond to urgent, unexpected emergency situations while moving toward our vision. I often answer this concern by asking folks to think of the analogy of creating a personal budget. We need to know we have the money for our mortgage or rent, utilities, food, clothing, and so on. But having a budget doesn’t mean that we stick to it rigidly. We may decide we need to take an unbudgeted vacation or splurge on a special book or shoes. But by having a budget, we know when we need to juggle or cut back on other expenses because we decided to spend outside of our budget. Creating plans for action works the same way. Of course, sometimes we need to shift in order to respond to a current situation, whether it’s a crisis such as the Gulf Oil spill or the loss of a major foundation grant. But it is easier to make critical decisions like this in the context of a long-term strategic plan based on our vision.

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chapter one How Collective Visioning Works

Stout, Linda Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In a time of great global change, humanity is still relying on the old myth of survival and domination. We need a new myth, a new vision, a new definition of power and leadership. We must go away from the old model and toward one of creative cooperation on our small and threatened planet.

JONETTA COLE

If you can’t imagine a better world, you can’t create one. If you can imagine a better world, you can make one. In order to do this, we have to vision collectively.

Collective visioning happens when a group of people, with guidance, envision a future together. The approach to collective visioning in this book begins with leading people through an individual guided meditation around a theme. The theme can be a very broad question, such as, “What do we want our world or community to look like twenty-five years from now?” Or it can be really specific: “If we could change the media to truly reflect our community and the wishes of ordinary people, what would it look like in ten years?” When I did collective visioning with a group called Rethink: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, we asked. “What should our schools look like so we can feel safe and healthy and have a positive learning environment?”

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chapter five Same Vision, Different Strategies

Stout, Linda Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.

LEONARD NIMOY

Groups usually come together in agreement on a collective vision. But they have a tendency to disagree on the way change happens. People often believe that their own way of working is “the answer.” I once believed that, too. But I’ve come to learn that we need many different approaches to creating change. What is most important to creating the world of our collective vision is that we work together in our different ways—an approach that is collaborative rather than divided.

Starhawk says in her book Webs of Power, “Sharing information, sharing skills, supporting the creativity of others, networking, and communicating spread power throughout a group and therefore increase its effectiveness and intelligence.”1

People come from different experiences and beliefs about how change happens. Understanding how we work for change in diverse ways is important because this difference is where people doing the work for justice and sustainability often split apart. If we look at these diverse ways to see how they complement each other, we can help people connect to their collective hope for the future and affirm each other’s ways of working. This can make the difference between a group that grinds to a halt, stuck in frustration and tension, and one that connects to collective hope, drawing on the strength of each approach.

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