We have been having robust conversations about what it means to be a community of practice grounded in liberation and justice. Truth be told, we have more questions than answers which means that we are almost always in a place of deep discernment. I’m going to venture to say that those of us engaged in capacity and movement building, may be asking ourselves some of the same questions.
One of the biggest questions as an evolving community of practice in these times is rooted in the reality that many of our consultants and clients are weathering multiple storm systems — white nationalism, the pandemic, climate change etc — simultaneously.
How do our consultants and clients work together to adapt our capacity and movement building practices when the political and economic conditions around us are unrelenting and in flux?
What we know is that capacity building cannot be a proscriptive or static process. In response, we are not only leaning into deeper relationship building with our clients to achieve more authentic collaboration, we are also doing what RoadMap does best: work in partnership with our consultants to deepen our collective political analysis and evolve our capacity building practices to meet our clients exactly where they are. In essence our mantra is: adapt, iterate, co-create RINSE AND REPEAT!
You see, for RoadMap, capacity building is not a neutral endeavor. In fact, from our perspective it’s deeply political and must address white supremacy and issues of power and privilege. Why? Because our work is about strengthening and supporting movements towards collective liberation. RoadMap’s community of practice—comprised of amazing clients on the front lines of movements and our network of consultants many of whom have also spent their lives working on the front line of movements— is evolving so that learning and co-creating together become a more sustained part of RoadMap’s culture and strategy. We continue to grapple with questions about how to collectivize and sustain our political education across a vast network of consultants and clients who are embedded in grassroots movements across the country. We are seeding some exciting political education experiments in an effort to build our collective political education muscle.
I believe that our ability to collectively resist and engage in resilience practices in our current political and economic conditions lies in being an interdependent community. I also believe that RoadMap cannot go at it alone nor can our movements, our clients or our consultants. In fact, our liberation depends on how we collectivize, decolonize, build power and share resources. Any capacity building project that doesn’t build greater interdependence and collective power isn’t answering the question “capacity building for what”?
Our RoadMap team is spending a lot of time working to create strategies and spaces for everyone in our ecosystem to become more interdependent. From virtual convenings and deeply intentional work with clients when they request our services to consultants as they scope the work that they will do with clients, we are attempting to grapple with how to actualize greater interdependence and collaboration. We are examining every stage of the process we use to engage with clients and consultants to find ways to deepen our political education and our relationships. We consider this to be our responsibility and accountability to the movement. We are also working to align our values with our commitment to ensuring that we don’t have a top-down approach to capacity building but rather one that is rooted in flanking and co-creating with movements, movement organizations and leaders.
Truthfully, we are on a journey. One that is not focused on short-term fixes or reactive strategies. The questions we are holding are really challenging us to think and act long term about how we support the movements and movement leaders we love with as much creativity, wisdom and solidarity we can muster during these turbulent times.