There are gaps in understanding that need to be bridged in order to co-create impact, a strategy for diverse people to bring about mutually valued outcomes. While empathy, reliability and relationship building takes time, it can prove to be more empowering and sustainable to include the very people one seeks to do good for.
“Preserving the dignities of communities”
That was a theme that stood out for me at the Ryerson Social Innovation summit 2015 on Feb 7-8. I heard about the event on the Saturday night, and was only able to attend the Sunday, but it was well worth it. Many inspiring, dedicated and passionate young adults ideating, sharing and designing projects. Near the end, a judge pointed out the important difference between doing good vs. feeling good.
With civic hackathons on the rise, some people like City Lab are wondering if they are stupid. Here I consider how to ensure these events don’t fall into a harmful saviour complex or into creative capitalism, co-opting what communities have been doing with little to no economic solidarity. Marginalized communities who entrepreneurs seek to “help” have been historically disenfranchised, when people with power and privilege take it upon themselves to decide, act and impose what they think are “solutions” to problems not directly impacting them becomes disingenuous. How well can someone with an IT or business degree comprehend the underlying implications of their actions even when they aim to do good? It is possible, and requires empathy, understanding and patience.
1) Create a civic focused project in under 24 hrs at Ryerson’s DMZ through group collaboration. Some of the groups had never met before and the youngest person there was 13 years old!
2) Give a convincing pitch to judges in the hopes of winning prizes, monetary and mentorship.
3) Are hackathons oriented for social good, genuinely effective when they do not understand the populations they seek to do good for?
1) Questions to ask yourself: do I exhibit democratic decision making? Are my non-verbal cues positive; how do I work at my best and what are my challenges? Am I sharing the air or talking a lot and stubbornly pushing my ideas? How can I be more collaborative? For e.g. in Harvard Business Review article, found those in business have a harder time collaborating, i.e. the qualities required for success are the same qualities that undermine success. I think however we are moving towards more of a collaborative effort as we come to better understand how much more successful we can be.
2) Assess your presentation skills, such as non-verbal cues (tone, posture, appearance). Ask: Do I know my stuff? Did I condense all the most important points to get across to the judges clearly and concisely? Did I practice my pitch?
3) When approaching complex social problems such as poverty, the imperative question is: who is sitting at the table? Projects about civic engagement and social good will benefit greatly by including those directly impacted, alongside cross-sector representatives.
How Can I Collaborate?
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