Locally-Led Development: Moving the Agenda Forward

by Kyra Buchko and Alyson Lyons

The resounding call for locally-led development by USAID Administrator Samantha Power resonated deeply with us at PartnersGlobal. In her speech from May 2022, Administrator Power reiterated USAID’s commitment to locally-led development as an approach that “prioritizes and elevates the roles of organizations, institutions, and people of the countries we serve” and is “the key to delivering the kind of results that will be visible years and years in the future, long after our programs have wound down.” At PartnersGlobal, we couldn’t agree more. 

For more than three decades, our mission and vision for a more peaceful and prosperous world has centered on and assumes a preeminent role of local leadership and locally-led problem-solving. It is the reason we founded The Partners Network of 20+ local, independently operated nonprofits based in Central and Eastern Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. We all share what we call The Partners Way – a collective commitment to locally driven development that brings together people, communities, and institutions to jointly reach decisions and take action that build peace and transform conflict. At its core, The Partners Way adheres to the values of inclusion, accountability, resiliency, justice, and nonviolence.  In practice, we focus on process guided by principles of locally-led development and centered on the role of local leadership – no matter the issue, topic, or thematic area.

As we begin to feel a real shift across the international donor community, and specifically US government agencies, to adopt a more locally-led development agenda, we are optimistic and hopeful about the next chapter of development assistance. And since we’ve been doing locally-led development for some time now, we’d like to share a few insights from our experience.

Shift Your Mindset to Shift the Power

The first step toward embracing locally-led development is to shift your mindset from one dominated by Western values and priorities to one guided by community-driven needs. The movement to decolonize aid is intricately connected with this idea. The purpose of decolonizing aid is to transform unequal power structures rooted in colonial constructs that prioritize Global North mandates and perspectives, impacting resource allocation and perpetuating discriminatory norms and practices in the international aid system.

So how do we shift our mindsets? First, we must start by asking questions and listening actively to local organizations and partners about THEIR priorities and needs. While it may sound easy, active listening is one of the hardest soft skills to do effectively because it requires that you pay attention, put aside judgment, and withhold opinions or criticisms. Practice, practice, practice active listening and ask for feedback from partners.

Second, we need to reimagine our relationship to our partners by engaging local leaders as peers and colleagues instead of ‘primes and subs’ to our programs. In this way, we can reorient ourselves to learning from each other, valuing everyone’s inputs and experiences. Further, we need to facilitate diverse and equitable participation and involvement in decision making. This means reaching out to amplify and integrate the voices of women, youth, and indigenous communities and peoples to ensure there is meaningful consultation, as detailed in the Global Fragility Act Coalition’s recommendations on local consultation processes. For project-based collaboration, it is critically important to engage all partners consistently and equitably before the program begins, throughout implementation, and well beyond the project’s end date. 

Third, let’s be intentional about the language we use when communicating to donors, partners, and peers. Language matters. At Partners, we seek informal and formal input from our partners about the optics and impressions created by the language we use in proposals, discussions with peers, and other communications.  This helps ensure that our messaging about our work and our values – including how we talk about local leadership – resonates with and is authentic to local perspectives. And it requires that any new or improved terminology and messaging are translated accurately in local languages and placed into appropriate context.

Progress through Partnership, not Programs

At the end of the day, trust is built and strengthened when we focus on partnership over projects. And trust is a necessary prerequisite for sustaining a locally-led development agenda. Partnership transcends transactional cooperation based on specific activities and forms the basis for continued connection well past the end of a project.  Not only do we work toward sustainability of project results and impact, but we view durable and resilient organizational and personal relationships as an ongoing benefit for all parties. 

One way to build and maintain trust over time is to collectively design your process for collaboration rather than focus on specific project activities or objectives. The end goal is important, but how you get there matters more in the long run. Ask your partners HOW they view and approach collaboration. What is important to them in terms of process? Where is collaboration needed and not needed? How can systems for program implementation be set up that encourage and foster inclusive participation and input? The emphasis on collaborative process helps to decentralize power and facilitates shared responsibility. It places decision-making more equitably in the hands of the local partners and communities impacted by a development or peacebuilding program.

The locally-led development agenda calls on all of us to be far more ambitious in expanding who we work with, and changing how we work so that collectively we drive the sustainable, lasting change that we all seek. This is how we at PartnersGlobal will continue to support local leadership to inspire and guide communities to peacefully manage change.

by Roselie Vasquez Yetter and Alyson Lyons

Civil society organizations come together to form networks and coalitions for a variety of reasons – maybe they are looking to maximize impact by collectively advocating on a particular issue or they are interested in sharing resources and skills, or simply just want to learn from one another. While it is one thing to form a network, it is quite another to maintain its existence during times of uncertainty and dynamic shifts to the funding and operating environments.

Our own Partners Network story is one of resiliency and renewal. Over the years, the needs of our network have shifted, and in 2020 we were faced with the challenge to adapt and thrive or remain static and decline. We called upon the PeaceNexus Foundation to facilitate a network strengthening process that forced us to come to terms with some major questions about who we are as a network and why we are together. Reimagining our purpose opened our minds to how we want to work together and resulted in new structures for leadership, collaboration, and communication.   It also opened our eyes to aspects of our structural and financial models that were in need of a bit of a renovation and upgrade.

One of the main aspects of network resiliency is the ability to leverage peer networks for mutual sharing and learning. Connectedness, unsurprisingly, is one of the factors in our ResiliencyPlus Framework that we expand upon regularly.  Our 32 years as a network brings the awareness that being in a network isn’t enough – the intentionality of the purpose for joining and engaging is the key to activating the potential of the network and making participation worthwhile. 

Recently together with the PeaceNexus Foundation, we co-facilitated a learning opportunity with peers from other civil society peace and development networks to share our own story and collect insights from others. The result was a rich and honest exchange of the major challenges, lessons, and adaptations networks are making to not only survive, but thrive in our ever-changing environment. Below are two main outcomes of the exchange.

Distributive leadership instead of command and control

Let’s face it. The age of the rigid, hierarchical leadership structure is a thing of the past. While the command and control model worked primarily to generate resources for a network, today these funding pools are no longer as widely available as they were fifteen years ago. Command and control style of centralized leadership also creates layers of bureaucracy, stifling collaboration and creating unequal power dynamics amongst network members that serve to create competition rather than build trust and collaboration.

Enter the distributive leadership model. Distributive leadership is a shared management model that decentralizes leadership at the top and disperses decision making from one individual to a collective group or groups. Distributive leadership empowers members who, under more centralized structures, may not have an opportunity to step into a leadership role – upending deeply rooted power structures and impacting resource allocation. The Partners Network adopted a distributed leadership model as a result of our self-evaluation process.  This created new leadership pathways for members to step into decision-making roles, such as the Young Professionals Group. Today, the YPG is made up of mid-level professionals and is responsible for organizing network wide trainings on topics of interest, such as a skill like mediation or thematic area like conflict transformation.

There are still situations where command and control might be more effective, such as with crisis management. However, being able to implement this form of leadership for specific circumstances rather than employing it as the overarching model may be more effective for the challenges of today. Leadership does not need to reside at the top. It can emerge at all levels of an organization if the right leadership model is in place.    

Decentralized governance structure in the virtual space

Closely related to the leadership model is a network’s governance structure, which tells us how a network organizes and regulates itself. Traditionally, civil society networks adopted formal governance structures and practices that set up rigid policies, agreed upon business development goals, and membership parameters. But does this approach still make sense as we operate more and more in the virtual space? Networks always had some aspect of online operations, but the pandemic forced the accelerated adoption of practices that generally were in person such as annual conferences or regional meetings. And it doesn’t look like we will be turning back. Combined with the decline in general support funds, maintaining a network today falls heavily on the shoulders of its members. More often than not, member-driven administrative and operational roles are voluntary and often struggle to remain at the top of the priority list.

From our own experience and those shared at the learning event, many networks are adapting to their new virtual reality and transitioning from more formal governance structures to more flexible, decentralized ones. Decentralized governance allows for new modes of collaboration, communication, and coordination to evolve organically. It also levels the playing field and invites input from diverse voices, creating a more equitable and inclusive network culture. For example, our own decentralization process inadvertently led to strengthened ties amongst network members located in the same region. We reflected on the expression of regional sub-network coordination and decided to lean in. This was achieved by creating a Liaison Group comprised of regional representatives that serve as a voice for members in each region when needing to make decisions on issues and opportunities that affect the entire network. This new process has created space for more authentic conversations that take cultural sensitivities and norms into consideration in a more intentional and organic way.

The future of networks

If there is one thing that most analysts agree on, it’s that we will never go back 100% to our pre-pandemic reality. Dynamics will continue to shift, impacting how we as civil society actors come together. And we need to continue to find ways to join forces and collaborate. Networks are a conduit of civil society resiliency. We must adapt to not just survive but thrive.  Resilient networks not only weather crises – they emerge stronger and more unified.  Inter-organizational network sharing and strategizing is an even more effective determinant of resilient network outcomes.  What we all agreed during our learning and sharing session was that each of the networks represented was able to recover from sudden crises that we encountered.  What we realized was that more important than recovery is the need to learn to develop the ability to make use of the opportunities brought on by a crisis.  By doing so, we can turn the obstacle into an opportunity for growth and learning.  In a network, that growth can be amplified and magnified. It’s our responsibility to our members to help transform the deflection of the shock to an embrace of the potential for positive change in a world of endless disruption.

As the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ukraine, now is the time to have a conversation about global peace and peacebuilding. The FrameWorks Institute, Alliance for Peacebuilding, and PartnersGlobal joined forces to deliver evidence-based recommendations for more effective narrative strategies that build public understanding and support for peacebuilding. The new brief includes:

  • Existing mindsets around peacebuilding
  • Research-based framing recommendations
  • Ideas for applying these frames in discourse & debate

The ongoing work of building bridges across divides must continue if we hope to create a world where conflicts are addressed without resorting to violence. Shifting the narrative of peacebuilding won’t happen overnight. But aligning messaging and consistency within the peacebuilding field will help the public and policymakers better understand what peacebuilding looks like in practice and why it is a productive mindset and policy option. | For access to the full report, please click HERE or read below:

FWI-31-peacebuilding-project-brief-v2b

During March, we celebrated the powerful and resilient women who have strived to make changes for the sake of making an equal and fulfilling space for all of us. Women have been the backbone of many political, economic, and social movements. They have been the faces and voices that have made us look inward and ask ourselves, “Are we the best of who we can be?” As we leave March 2022 behind us please take a moment to reflect on this question. And check out all of the ways we celebrate women in peacebuilding and civil society resiliency spaces.

Resilient Conversations

Resilient Conversations is a forthcoming podcast organized and hosted by PartnersGlobal that explores different facets of individual, organizational, sectoral, and systemic resiliency. The short video series above includes clips from different episodes. Featured guests on the podcast will include our own staff like Co-Executive Directors Roselie Vasquez Yetter and Kyra Buchko; ResiliencyPlus colleagues and coaches Alexa Brand, Olivia Baciu, and Susan Njambi Odongo; and civil society colleagues such as Zuza Fialova of Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia and Carole Frampton de Tscharner and Heloise Heyer of Peace Nexus Foundation.

MENA Women’s Roundtable

Recently, MENA and Civil Society Strengthening Director Rasha Abdel Latif of PartnersGlobal sat down (virtually) with women peacebuilders and Partners Network colleagues from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the US to talk about women’s role as leaders and peacebuilders in the MENA region. Enjoy this 20 minute conversation between these incredible women as they reflect on what inspires them to work in this space.

Co-Leadership Model as a Resiliency Approach

We are on our own resiliency journey at PartnersGlobal as we navigate the shifts on our operating environment. One way to shore up our resilient capital is to build in innovative leadership and operating models like co-leadership. This approach both builds in redundancies AND creates space for inclusion and diversity of thought, which contributes to more effective problem solving and organizational management. Get to know our co-Executive Directors Roselie and Kyra by watching the short video above!

Women Peacebuilders Blog Series

Below are a series of blog posts by staff and partners at PartnersGlobal that depict the real stories and impacts of various women peacebuilders across our portfolios. Enjoy!

March 22, 2022 – PartnersGlobal is pleased to join the Coalition for Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development (CREED) and sign the Pledge for Racial & Ethnic Equity (REE). PartnersGlobal joins more than 30 not-for-profit and for-profit development organizations committed to building racial and ethnic equity within international development. 

By signing the REE pledge, PartnersGloblal commits to: 

  • strengthening its commitments and accountability for racial & ethnic equity within its policies, systems, and culture; 
  • creating practical and quantifiable standards for advancing racial & ethnic equity; and 
  • working to instill racial and ethnic equity as a core principle in the development sector. 

“To be effective and create meaningful shifts, CREED’s Racial & Ethnic Equity pledge is taking a focused view to build equity by concentrating on strengthening racial and ethnic equity within United States-based organizations,” said Indira Kaur Ahluwalia, Founder/Chair of CREED and CEO of KAUR Strategies. “CREED welcomes PartnersGlobal to a learning community of like-minded organizations committed to integrating racial and ethnic equity into how we work.” 

“We encourage our global development sector colleagues to be partners in addressing racial and ethnic equity to improve and deepen the impact of our collective work. Strong democracies cannot be achieved without racial and ethnic equity. We all have a responsibility to push for meaningful change.”   – Roselie Vasquez Yetter

About CREED 

The Coalition for Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development (CREED) is a collective of international development and humanitarian assistance organizations based in the United States committed to building REE. We pledge to advance racial and ethnic diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within our own organizations’ policies, systems, and culture in keeping with attainable and measurable goals; and work to instill REE in international development. 

Contact 

For questions about the pledge or how to sign, visit https://coalition-for-racial-and-ethnic-equity-in-development.org/  

Partners has been appointed for the three-year Regional Secretariat function of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) in North America. GPPAC is a network of NGOs actively working on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The network promotes multi-stakeholder collaboration and local ownership of strategies for peace and security and it also serves as a community of practice to advance new knowledge, share ideas, and convene regular reflection spaces between peers.

GPPAC is organized around regional subnetworks and we have been involved in GPPAC North America for the past three years. GPPAC North America includes very well-known and respected organizations in the peacebuilding and human rights spaces in Canada, the US, and Mexico:

  • Alliance for Peacebuilding
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Association of Canada
  • Mennonite Central Committee
  • Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative
  • Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SWEFOR)
  • Servicio Internacional para la Paz (SIPAZ)
  • Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (SERAPAZ)
  • Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y a la Reconciliación Comunitaria (CORECO)
  • Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas
  • Centro de Colaboración Cívica (CCC)
  • PartnersGlobal

For us, GPPAC North America represents a community of practice and learning created to promote new knowledge, approaches and methodologies to advance peacebuilding and peace consolidation, share ideas and experiences on concrete interventions, as well as enable spaces for reflection among peers on situational and structural issues that impact stability and peace at the regional level. In this sense, our affiliation and formal participation allow us to take better advantage of the vast experience of the members of the network to strengthen our programs and interventions and strengthen ties with organizations working on issues of peace, violence prevention and promotion of human rights in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

  May 10, 2021

This month, we’ve curated some timely, practical, and inspirational resources to support your organization’s resiliency. From a super-list of tools to improve remote work to reflections and advice for healing from mass trauma and loss, these resources can help you reshape and rethink your organizational and movement-based resiliency journeys.

Check out the resources, organized by the seven reinforcing factors of organizational resiliency in the PartnersGlobal Resiliency+ Framework that we hope offer you food for thought and inspiration.

We have also pulled 5 top resiliency tweets for a quick way to plug into the resiliency conversation. See those below!

5 Top Resiliency Tweets

  1. @ionaflawrence explores human relationships and the greater collective action necessary for unlocking a relationship-centered world in this blog piece titled Through Thick and Thin.

2. Feelings of belonging are critically important to the vitality of organizations and movements. @CitizenStout offers more on the topic and shares key lessons around the harmfulness of binaries and zero sum thinking and the freeing nature of polarity and imagination.

3. In this thread, @indy_johar highlights some of the structural barriers in place that impede organizations’ ability to lead with kindness and care while also encouraging us to think critically about the adversarial and competitive leanings of our current economy.

4. Adaptive Capacity is so important for resiliency. Check out this thread for insights and takeaways from Adam Grants’ new book Think Again, The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

5. @EnrolYourself offers a reimagined way of nurturing manager to managed relationships by way of “stewarding circles.” Learn more about how this ‘buddying’ process has led their staff to hold space for care, support, accountability, creativity, reflection, and more.

Resiliency Resources by Factor

Legitimacy

Don’t know where to begin in terms of increasing your organization’s legitimacy with your constituencies? Check out this interview featuring Stanford professor Patricia Bromley for insights on how nonprofits can and should balance professionalization and formalization with trust and community building. Bromley also discusses the effects of COVID-19 on the nonprofit sector.

In her newly released book, More Than Ready, author Cecilia Muñoz discusses the agency and belonging of women of color who are no longer willing to be ‘invisible’ or left behind. She shares more on the topic in this Open Society Foundations-sponsored webinar.

Engaging the Narrative

Narratives matter. They help us to make meaning of the world while also holding the power to drive and shape culture and policy change. Engaging with relevant meta-narratives in society requires capacity and infrastructure. Explore this article from Pop Culture Collaborative for five ways to strengthen narrative rapid response.

And for those working on or interested in public health, check out this research report from USC Annenberg for narrative messaging on health equity and how media and entertainment narratives about health influence mindsets and policy. 

Narratives around politics and governance have a huge impact on our systems.  In this podcast, Karen Stenner explores the “psychological predisposition” some people seem to have toward authoritarianism on both the right and the left. Stenner also shares practical tips for addressing authoritarian tendencies and what we can expect next from countries like the US where authoritarian and populist attitudes continue to emerge.

Business Acumen

One of the main adaptations that all of civil society organizations around the world have had to confront during the pandemic is finding reliable and effective tools for remote work. Collaboration Superpowers have compiled a super-list of tools and apps to help us all work better while working remotely. Check out the list here and perhaps submit a tool of your own!

Organizational resiliency requires a commitment to ongoing innovation. States of Change has released a helpful new playbook for innovation learning, targeting practitioners looking for new ways to spread innovation skills, methods, and tools.

From “A playbook for innovation learning” by States of Change

Reinvention and innovation have to be balanced with existing programs and priorities. In Twin Engines for Propelling Social Impact, Ann Mei Chang and Laura Lanzerotti share helpful lessons on how nonprofits can balance “today’s needs with tomorrow’s potential.” 

Resiliency Ethos

Resiliency ethos is about how we think about change, how we prepare, and how ready we are to adapt and recover from disruption. We can’t imagine a bigger disruption than what we’ve experienced under COVID 19. Ed Prideaux shares helpful reflections on how we can address the need for societal healing from the mass trauma we’ve all experienced during the pandemic in this BBC Future article.

In 4 Tactics to reflect and (re)charge into 2021, Pete Ronayne and Andi Williams postulate that the “present and future of leadership and learning is about attention to resilience as recharge.” Explore their practical tips for leaders and their teams on boosting learning and performance here.

Dealing with staff burnout is a key aspect of organizational resiliency. “Research has definitively shown that burnout is an organizational problem, not an individual one. But while responsibility for preventing employee burnout rests squarely on the shoulders of employers, remedying burnout once you’re suffering from it is much less straightforward,” write Yu Tse Heng and Kira Schabram in this article. Keep reading for insights on burnout recovery.

Adaptive Capacity

Navigating uncertainty is key to being able to adapt to and thrive in challenging contexts. This article from Sonja Blignaut surfaces some of the fears and tensions we experience that impede learning and change, such as busyness, withdrawal, and paralysis. Blignaut writes, “Can we hold onto our competence while acknowledging and working with our incompetence? Can we turn our anxiety into creative energy and resist disengaging from a disconcerting world that is in dire need of us showing up?”

Each organization is unique and will deal with adaptation in their own unique ways. Eric McNulty highlights five actions leaders can take to create a positive organizational culture out of their own unique ingredients in this recent piece, The secret recipe for organizational culture is no recipe.

“Culture is less a matter of following a recipe than mastering the craft of baking, so you spot challenges and opportunities early and are able to adapt.”

– Eric McNulty

In Test Your Assumptions, James Oriel acknowledges the pressures we face when we’re trying to address big societal crises and issues and offers some tools to help.

Situational Awareness

Knowing what’s going on in the systems around you is key to staying on top of change and adapting to complexity.

Check out the US National Intelligence Council’s recently released Global Trends report with predictions for the year 2040.  The report is intended to help citizens and policymakers see what may lie ahead and prepare for possible futures.

In this piece from Open Global Rights, Krizna Gomez challenges social change actors to engage change proactively and to incorporate foresight as a key competency for our organizations.

Connectedness

Building and maintaining trust are critical components of connectedness for civil society organizations. Ross Hall offers reflections on the importance of trust in learning ecosystems and shares approaches for “weaving trustful relationships between diverse actors who are used to competing and who have different perspectives and levels of influence.”

Curious about the metrics needed to determine the effectiveness of organizing? Hear from Ned Howey on Tectonica’s new model of evaluating how organizing works to build power and impact political change. Howey draws on examples of success from movements like BLM and others to demonstrate the importance of measuring organizing and the process of learning through experimentation and failure.

From “How can we measure organising?” by Tectonica

And lastly, sophisticated facilitation skills are key to effective partnerships and collaboration. These tools from Timeout are easily accessible and can help you find practical resources for planning and generating constructive discussions with constituencies.

  April 23, 2021

George Floyd’s life mattered.

After less than a day of jury deliberations, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last May. For Floyd’s family, their surprise and relief at the verdict was expressed poignantly in his brother Philonise’s words, “Today we are able to breathe again.”  Many across the nation glued to televisions and Twitter feeds took a collective breath as we realized that our justice system had finally validated that this Black man’s life mattered — and that a system that allowed a White police officer to kill a Black man by kneeling casually on his neck for 9:29 minutes was indefensible and criminal.  Yet however uplifting and validating the verdict, it is worth remembering that many other victims have not yet and may not see justice served. 

Just moments before the verdict was announced, police in Columbus, Ohio fatally shot a 16-year-old Black girl, Ma’Khiah Bryant. It is also not lost on us that just last week, less than 10 miles from where Chauvin stood trial,  Daunte Wright was shot and killed by police during a routine traffic stop. These lost lives are more tragic reminders of the power disequilibrium that systemic racism produces across our nation. Indeed, many police practices reinforce the narrative that Black and Brown lives are threats to society that must be remanded, contained, or even brutalized. This dehumanization wrought by white supremacy in the US places BIPOC at the bottom of a racial hierarchy, where systemic violence perpetuates human rights violations upon communities of color. From mass incarceration to the militarization of police forces that disproportionately target Black and Brown people, these communities have been left at the mercy of the state, and their fury becomes their voice.

The civil resistance in America today is the result of hundreds of years of pain, anger, and fear – and it is our duty to ensure that the Chauvin verdict is a step toward healing the communal trauma of centuries of institutional oppression. The powerful, Black-led movement that organized the largest and most persistent demonstrations in US history is a reminder of how positive social change in this country happens.  We must push our lawmakers to uphold this outcome through a wholesale redesign of our criminal justice system and accountability mechanisms.

Much work and healing remain as we continue to organize and advocate for equitable justice and accountability. We can already see the ramping up of a dangerous counter-narrative from those who portray the verdict as “mob justice” – suggesting that jurors were persuaded not by testimony and evidence but by fear of the potential consequences of a not–guilty verdict – and discussion of passing laws that could target protestors. This is where organizations focused on peacebuilding and democratic reform must demonstrate resolve, vigilance, and leadership. We must amplify messages of social transformation, accountable justice, and healing through a collaborative approach that unifies our voices and networks to truly effect changes in the system that center human life and dignity.

It can seem overwhelming to know where to begin to constructively change an oppressive, abusive system. As peacebuilders, we at PartnersGlobal know that rebuilding trust is one of the cornerstones to any long-term criminal justice reform. Our organization is committed to advocating for change by first acknowledging the collective and personal trauma that our staff is experiencing and allowing ourselves as a team the time to grieve. We also acknowledge that this trauma is felt differently by our Black and Brown colleagues who experience levels of violence and historical marginalization very differently than those with lighter skin. While we know our individual experiences with injustice vary, we believe strongly that we each have a role to play in ensuring that reforms and social transformation will be legitimate, inclusive, and lasting. The Chauvin trial resulted in a guilty verdict because average citizens of all ages, colors, and races took risks to film, speak, organize, and shout about a repugnant murder by law enforcement of a citizen on a calm street in Minneapolis on a typical summer afternoon – and because a jury of peers did its civic duty to hear evidence from all sides and render a just decision that upheld the laws of the state and the principles of our country.

PartnersGlobal will make every effort to uplift and assist our peer organizations working on the front lines of racial injustice and social reform in the United States, offering support to these groups to stay resilient in this long struggle. We recognize that expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and others working to end the dehumanization of people of color is not enough. Yet it represents a critical start for collaborative advocacy and restorative justice. As we call for police to end the use of illegal force and brutality—beatings, racial abuse, unlawful killings, torture, or indiscriminate use of riot control agents —we know that the verdict doesn’t equate to the greater justice we need without systemic change. And we recognize that it will take many different groups and constituencies – activists, community leaders, policymakers, and police themselves – to achieve these kinds of structural reforms.  

We encourage our extended Partners family to join us in supporting the struggle for Black lives whether by donating money, attending protests, amplifying Black voices online, or being willing to have difficult conversations about race and racism in the US.

We honor the memories and legacies of those killed by police. To read their stories, visit:

  April 20, 2021

Cultivating resiliency in your organization or movement is an ongoing process. Rather than reaching a set endpoint, you must continually evaluate risks, prepare for the unknown, and adapt as new challenges and changes come your way, drawing on different resiliency factors at different points in time.

With this in mind, we’ve curated the articles, resources, and tools around the seven reinforcing factors of organizational resiliency in the PartnersGlobal Resiliency+ Framework that continue to offer inspiration.

We have also pulled 5 top resiliency tweets for a quick way to plug into the resiliency conversation. Check those out below!

5 Top Resiliency Tweets

  1. Missed the Transition Network’s “What Next Summit?” Check out this YouTube playlist to catch up on the latest in their “why is our movement green, but mostly white” series around environmental movements becoming actively anti-racist.

2. Check out Thinking Like a Network 3.0 from @curtisogden to learn his twelve principles for network thinking and action. Here’s a quick snapshot!

3. @the_hope_guy has dedicated his life’s work to finding narratives that help people care about human rights. Check out his new piece Seeing Hope: A Visual Communications Guide for Human Rights.

4. Interested in learning about books that change the world? Check out this thread from the @OnionCollective for some top recommendations.

5. Think communities of practice are self-organizing? Think again. In this thread @KaraKane_kk postulates that there are “no ‘self-sustaining’ communities without leadership, visibility, and support.” Read on for more. 

Resiliency Resources by Factor

Legitimacy

Trust is at the core of an organization’s legitimacy, but in today’s digital world, building this trust can be challenging. “To build trust in the digital systems that connect us all, it is essential first to understand how people do (or don’t) trust their digital ecosystems today,” write authors Bhaskar Chakravorti, Ajay Bhalla, and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi in the Harvard Business Review. Read their article for a closer look at four core metrics of trust across 42 global economies.

To build our own legitimacy, we can learn from what other organizations are doing. In proactive response to civic space restrictions, Solidarity Action Network has compiled a repository of case studies that showcase best practices, challenges, and lessons learned from resilience practices of international civil society organizations.

 Learn more about the Legitimacy factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Engaging the Narrative  

Understanding and practicing narrative competency is key to organizational resiliency, but where do you start? Take a look at this mini masterclass series convened by Future Advocacy and FrameWorks Institute UK on how to reframe the issues we care about to affect change. 

Read the Center for Media and Social Impact’s Storytelling and Social Justice in Action: Leveraging Documentary Films to Strengthen Local Movement Building report for insights around the role nonprofits play on a local level as “civic network builders” and the art of storytelling and film as vehicles for empowering communities and strengthening social justice movements.

The Other Story is a podcast dedicated to uncovering dominant narratives in our society to ask how they came to be, how they might be changed, and the role of the entertainment industry in reinforcing or deconstructing them. Tune into their first episode as they discuss “What is Narrative Change?” with Jee Kim and Romain Vakilitabar.

Learn more about the Engaging Narratives factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Situational Awareness

Understanding the role of power dynamics is a key component of organizational resiliency. Hear from Anna Birney on the issue of power as it relates to systemic sustainability challenges and systems change in this article.

For more on systems thinking you can watch this video presentation from the University of Hull’s Centre for Systems Studies on “An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems.”

Learn more about the Situational Awareness factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Business Acumen

Innovative business models are critically important to the life and health of civil society organizations. In The Hard Truth About Business Model Innovation, authors postulate that because many attempts at business model innovations fall flat, leaders need to take a proactive approach.

Change is hard for everyone and navigating it intentionally can be especially important for organizations. Check out The Social Age Guidebook Series: Free Action Focused Resources from Julian Stodd for resources and carefully guided reflections around the implementation of learning, leadership, and cultural and organizational change.

Image from The Social Age Guidebook Series: Free Action Focused Resources by Julian Stodd

Learn more about the Business Acumen factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Adaptive Capacity

How do you actually build up adaptive capacity? Going International works to support organizations engaging internationally to create a better world. They have assembled an expansive list of toolkits and manuals on everything from a diversity and inclusion organizational assessment to tools for social innovation. These are great resources for organizations undergoing change.

Boundless Roots recently released an article called Roots of Transformation: Lessons and Leverage Points for Sustainable Living. Explore it for insights around how practices like multi-stakeholder engagement can bring about sustainable behavioral change that transform our society and lifestyles.

 Learn more about the Adaptive Capacity factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Resiliency Ethos

Does your organization value the usefulness of creativity and play in staying resilient in an ever-changing world? Read this piece from Disrupt Development, How Our Most Disruptive Thoughts Can Happen Through Play.

The more we are self-motivated to contribute our best ideas, explore new perspectives, and consider creative thinking strategies, the more likely we are to consistently come up with ideas and solutions that are unique and innovative.

– Disrupt Development’s, How Our Most Disruptive Thoughts Can Happen Through Play.

Experimentation is a sign of a healthy and resilient organization. Interested in learning more? Check outThe Experimentation Field Guide from Same Ryeas he draws on a range of topics and disciplines including systemic design, complexity science, social sciences, impact evaluation, and agile and lean startup.

Learn more about the Resiliency Ethos factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Connectedness

Strengthening connections with our constituencies and our peer organizations is an important piece of resiliency, but we won’t always share the same stance on issues.In her Ted Talk, How to have constructive conversations, speaker Julia Dhar discusses how to have “productive disagreements grounded in curiosity and purpose.” She says that this type of disagreement can actually help to strengthen relationships.

In We Know We Need Civil Resistance Training. Now Where Do We Start? Hardy Merriman offers readers a three-part framework for embracing civil resistance as a response to civic space challenges and rising authoritarian practices. Merriman posits that many of the questions relate to “knowledge management” and shares strategic tips for successful movements.

In this time of increased virtual collaboration, the right tools can be paramount to our collective effectiveness and productivity. The Peeragogy Handbook is a framework for peer learning and peer knowledge with resources for any group of people who want to co-learn any subject together. 

Learn more about the Connectedness factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.