Friday, August 02, 2013

Take the time to save the time

A collective vision is not a utopian vision. It is grounded in reality. Grounded, collective vision creates a pathway to power.
--Linda Stout (2011, p. 14)
Working to create, develop, and commit to a collective vision is perceived as something we do when we have time to do it, not something we do when our organization is dealing with urgent timelines and clearly necessary tasks. If we don't have the time to properly deal with the crunch that is upon us, the 'vision thing' can wait, just like it did for Bush the Elder in 1987 (when he expressed exasperation with the 'vision thing' to one of his Republican buds).

Perhaps spending a day creating that vision thing might save us years in the achievement of our primary goal for our organization. Would it be a worthy investment of time in that case?

More and more community groups are seeing the value in visioning together, creating robust networks and coalitions as they join in this process.

The theory of transformation undergirding the Spirit in Action model develops a line of sight toward a strategic approach to operating within and resisting the current system, linked to creating elements of a new system. This is actually much like the Gandhian relationship between satyagraha and sarvodaya and swadeshi and constructive program. From being arrested for making salt to spinning cloth with his charka, he was eroding the oppressive system by a combination of building the new and directly defying the old. A vision can first come to see how both make sense and can then provide action opportunities that appeal to everyone. This is also much like the Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin Catholic Worker vision of building a new world in the shell of the old.

Spirit in Action responded to the Occupy movement with a great little visioning guide. Your group could do worse than to use it to conduct a 3-5 hour session. It just might save you 3-5 years in reaching that goal.


Stout, Linda (2011). Collective visioning: How groups can work together for a just and sustainable future. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

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