Photo: Colored rope joined together in a knot

Collective Abundance and Radical Inclusion

Posted on July 22, 2019 by Hannah Saeger Karnei, Inaugural TPF Fellow
Recently, I spent four days attending the Institute for Educational Leadership Family and Community Engagement conference in Reno, Nevada. It was an incredibly rich learning opportunity for me in the spaces of education, family engagement, and the many approaches to closing gaps and improving our children’s success. As I participated in small group meetings, sessions and networking events, a common theme emerged. No matter what role someone played in the landscape of family and community engagement—they felt like there weren’t enough resources in their community.

In some cases, that is true. But in many cases, it is a symptom of defining community too closely. Family and community engagement is a topic discussed in relation to schools and so, logically, most attendees were thinking of their communities as the people and assets in the school (teachers, admin, support staff) or associated with the school (parents, direct service providers, vendors). The more I heard, the more I thought, “Now is when someone will talk about collective abundance?”

However, unless my colleague from The Patterson Foundation or I were sharing our learnings about moving beyond obstacles to possibilities, no one was discussing how to utilize big picture community.

There’s a pervasiveness of the attitude of scarcity—there is never enough money, people, time, and so on. This feeling is exacerbated the more isolated we as a community or individual feel. At The Patterson Foundation, we strive to include people, business, nonprofit, government, and media (all “five sectors”) in everything we do. By defining our community broadly and believing that each one of those sectors can and is able to contribute in some way, it becomes easier to shift our mindset from scarcity to collective abundance.

Beth Duda, with whom I attended the conference, uses the term radical inclusion when she talks about community. In its most simple form, it means that when we refer to involving the community, it really means the entire community. So many of the issues we as a society seek to improve are deeply complex. The larger our scope of community, the more brain power and people power we have to create change that is inclusive and equitable. While change takes time, moving forward with collective abundance opens up possibilities for all, today.

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