Photo: TEDx Bradenton

Space & Access: Why Everyone Needs Both

Posted on October 21, 2022
To address space and access, one must address privilege. As a white woman with a college education, a good job, and a loving husband, I would say I’m pretty privileged. I have faced some barriers as a woman, but not when it comes to the critical barriers of space and access.

With the appropriate theme of ACCESS during TEDx Bradenton, several presenters addressed inaccessible opportunities through personal stories. Unfortunately, it is normal for many people in our community to come up against societal barriers when trying to gain access to opportunities. This reality needs to change.

“The first step to having access to anything is having the awareness that it exists.” When one of the presenters said this sentence, everything clicked into perspective. For example, if people are looking to build their professional network but aren’t aware of the opportunities out there due to lack of digital access, they are excluded. Many communities are lacking the infrastructure to provide awareness and outreach to the resources and opportunities that exist. Essentially, we are excluding certain groups of people from access that can make a difference in their lives. Beyond awareness of these resources and opportunities, there still needs to be a space for access that matters.

Another presenter put it very well that “space is not place.” Just because there is a place for someone to go or a group to convene does not mean that it is a space for them to have a voice or to access opportunities. Space is about energy, and the energy that this type of space requires is intentional, genuine, welcoming, and open. Having space creates the opportunity for marginalized groups to cement themselves in society.

Change lies with those currently in charge of the system. If one is in a position of privilege, one has the power to raise others’ positional power and personal power. This idea of personal power and positional power was raised by yet another presenter, and is actually quite simple. “When you have high positional power and high personal power, you can influence and be an empathetic leader. When you have low positional power and high personal power, you can be a change agent, a confident team player.” What matters most is personal power. Where does personal power come from? The access you have throughout your social capital, the security of a space built for you, and eventually, the construction of the spaces you build.

So how can the change that needs to occur happen so everyone can have space and access that matters? One presenter proposed entrepreneurial ecosystem building, “where private and public interest in creating change combine.” The philanthropic sector can be a leader in advancing this change, but it cannot do it alone. I implore you to use your power to address these inequities. If you have high positional power, look for people around you that you can elevate; look for areas where you can deepen outreach and opportunity. If you have low positional power, look for avenues within your work and your team to build on outreach and awareness. A good place to start, regardless of your power, is to look at who you are currently engaging with, what that brings to the table, and then who’s still missing that needs a place.

Personally, this is what I do within my work, and I invite you to join me in looking inward and reflect where there are gaps in awareness, outreach, and engagement, and then turn outward and address those gaps because space and access are opportunity.

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Comments (1)

  • Robyn Faucy

    Robyn Faucy

    03 November 2022 at 16:48 | #

    Very nicely written and terrific summary of the event. I’m honored to have been part of it.


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