Archive for Coalition Building

Institutional Change Through Quilting

By | September 27, 2013 | 0 Comments
Coalitions working for Institutional change have to hold a metaphoric quilting bee

Coalitions working for Institutional change have to hold a metaphoric quilting bee

I absolutely LOVE quilts.  I love them for their physical beauty as well as for everything they symbolize.  I love the idea of re-purposing fabric, bringing disparate pieces together and, creating a functional and aesthetic item that should last for generations.  Lately, I have been thinking about how coalitions can be like quilts. 

 

Over the past week I have worked with school reformers from local education advocacy groups when we gathered at Los Angeles Education Partnership offices to see and learn about their excellent work. I am also meeting with community members, educators and cultural resource professionals in North Carolina where I am giving a presentation on Coalitions working to change Institutions.

flag quilt

 

I am lucky to have a depth of experience in coalition work through my years working on environmental justice issues where I published, Righting the Wrong   which is about local government’s role in partnering with community stakeholders to address environmental justice issues. I have also worked in Dayton Ohio and Washington DC on a range of community issues.  Most recently, I am working with a coalition of education advocacy groups that are improving education outcomes in their communities.  Their roles can be difficult because they are both critics and defenders of public education in this period when there are so many paths called reform. 

 

Like my education partners, I believe in the power and purpose of institutions but also believe that they, like all of us, need to evolve over time.  Below are some of my thoughts about working with coalitions to effect institutional change.  These are based on a presentation that I gave at: NC Folklife Institute’s 2013 Statewide Folklife Summit, a gathering of cultural resource and community partners. 

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Coalition work to effect institutional change, is like quilting in that you have elements that you need to bring together for a lasting outcome. The cover itself, the most visual aspect of the quilt, is comprised of disparate parts and pieces, woven from different fabrics, that have to be pieced together to create a whole.  Often times, the fabrics alone would not complement or align, however, when pieced from a community of fabrics, the diversity of colors and textures enriches the outcome. While the cover is the most visual aspect, the quality, function and durability of a quilt depend on piecing, quilting and binding the components together.  This metaphor is apt for successful coalition building where you have to assemble stakeholder interests into a shared picture and then use the tools and resources available to successfully join the disparate parts for a functional, durable outcome that reflects the culture from which it came.

 

WHY WORK WITH INSTITUTIONS?

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