bottom row: Randi Quakenbush, Leslie Ackerman; middle row: Schelley Nunn, Kirby Edmonds; top row: Karim Beers, Brigid Hubberman, Natasha Thompson and Phoebe Brown
Eight representatives from Tompkins County spent 5 inspiring days in October at the recent Tamarack Institute Collective Impact Summit in Toronto, Canada. Among the 300 participants were people from Canada and the Northwest Territories, USA, Kenya, New Zealand, Australia, and Denmark. The purpose of the summit was to help participants learn how to use Collective Impact to solve complex problems in their communities.
The team returned excited to share their insights about how to use Collective Impact. Each of the “Toronto 8” spoke to a big gathering at last week’s Building Bridges Brown Bag Lunch at the Tompkins County Library. They made the case for working together to create a “community-wide aspiration”–a big, hairy, audacious goal that can encompass all of the collective working groups that are underway:
- Food Security & Justice
- Renewable Energy
- Kindergarten Readiness
- College& Career Readiness
- Jobs Pipeline
They emphasized that Collective Impact requires a new mindset and way of operating, and widening our focus beyond the success of individual programs to the effectiveness of the systems that impact us all. No, we don’t have to quit our jobs or shut down our organizations. But the process of weaving all of our efforts together will require a shift in our thinking. One big lesson emerged from the success or failure of Collective Impact initiatives in other places: it is crucial to include a really significant percentage of people who are most directly affected in the work of planning and decision making.