Invitations to practice recognising how we are all connected are around us.  Breathing the same air as your favourite singer at a concert, cheering your team on in a stadium, tasting a delicious meal cooked by someone you love, holding the hand of a child to help them cross the road safely – everyday ordinary – linking our past, present and future.

The invitation to open up to what is possible takes another step when we connect up with one another. It is not an optional extra, it is central to the work of collective impact, to recognize our connectedness, go deeper and bring our whole selves, our networks, creativity, intellect and resources to the task at hand. This work calls us to be upstanders not bystanders.   Leadership is required of all us in this movement: to take up, stand up and act up.

Thomas Merton (Choosing to Love the World, 2008), Christian mystic and activist reminds us how compassion works in the Buddhist tradition:

…. when the monk begs from the layman and receives a gift from the layman, it is not as a selfish person getting something from somebody else. He is simply opening himself to this interdependence …

Inviting others into the work of collective impact is an invitation to come alongside of the lives of those who are in the ecosystem holding the complex social problem.  It is an act of solidarity.

I am a firm believer in systems theory and so take the view for adaptation to take place any invention in the system, will cause a change in the system as a whole. Using the levers or making new ones to get the maximum amount of change possible from those levers is an art and craft. We make artifacts as we go and embed the changes into the system to continue its evolution to equity.

So if you get an invitation to join in the collective impact movement, consider the possibility of coming with an empty bowl, a chance for you to recognize we are all connected. In my practice this includes inviting others to join in, to breath the same air of this ecosystem with all its complexities, and to come in simplicity.

This movement is personal and political requiring an openness and understanding of our common connection. In the words of Indigenous visual artist and activist Lilla Watson:

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

If you want to come and get to know a community, instead of a set of numbers, deficits and service users, consumers, clients, you can join me for a community door knock on January 28 (in Christie Downs) or 29 (in Hackham West).  You will also get a chance to practice and reflect on your experience and bring an asset based community development perspective. These events are being hosted byTogether SA and will be supporting the Together in the South initiative where a mix of community leaders, elected officials, not for profit organisations, business, State and local government officers have made the following pledge:

Every child is safe, healthy, active, ready to learn and getting along with others.

Together, we are taking responsibility for improving the emotional and social wellbeing and success of over 6,000 children between 0 and 8 years old in Hackham West, Christie Downs, Huntfield Heights, Noarlunga Downs, O’Sullivan Beach/Lonsdale, Christies Beach, Hackham and Morphett Vale.

In these suburbs one in three children are not meeting their developmental steps and our well being is connected to their well being.  Consider yourself invited to their future by joining the movement and doing differently, now.