One of the highlights of the May 14-16 2019 Collective Impact Convening (we co-convene the Collective Impact Forum with FSG) was the opening keynote, featuring john a. powell, of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, University of California, Berkeley, and a preeminent scholar on the concepts of targeted universalism, othering, and belonging.
“Equity is a platform….it’s about the way in which we look at the world, in which we do all of our work,” powell said. powell noted that in the United States, how we frame and learn about othering is based mostly on race. If the goal is to belong, then othering is the exact opposite of belonging, powell says. Targeted universalism, he says, is the concept that if the rules of the game exclude a whole group of people, then the rules must be changed.
powell expanded on these concepts with Michael McAfee of PolicyLink, during a discussion about operationalizing equity in collective impact work. powell shared an example from his time working in New Orleans post-Katrina, helping to rebuild the community there. The process drew together members of the business, academic, and political communities, as well as private citizens. He said quickly it was clear to him that private citizens didn’t feel fully empowered to participate in the process of rebuilding, and that in order for equity to be operationalized in collective impact work, a non-hierarchal, authentic baseline must be established from the beginning.
Click below to watch the entire talk.
powell talked about similar concepts in an earlier talk during the opening plenary at the Opportunity Youth Forum 2018 Seattle/South King County Spring Convening. He inspired the crowd in his call for equity 2.0, which is about changing systems and structures to create belonging. Watch his talk in its entirety below.