February 2023: Sitting on a Gold Mine — Facilitated Ownership is the Way to Grow
Greetings colleagues and friends,
We’re pleased to share the February issue of our monthly newsletter. Along with our regular updates, we encourage you to take a look at a short reflection on ownership by Cinamon, and Jessica’s interview on that topic with Harry Johnson, co-founder of Brothers at Bard and Brothers@ (see also our spotlight on these phenomenal organizations!). ENJOY!
With best regards,
The Broadsight Team – Jessica, Cinamon, Ariana, and Caroline
Facilitated Ownership is the Way to Grow — Sitting on a Gold Mine — Ownership as Shared Accountability
We often think of collaboration with clients as a form of facilitated ownership. Our clients are the experts on their work, and the people in communities and regions served are the experts on the outcomes of that work. Tapping into this already existing “gold mine” of experiential knowledge, we learn with our clients about impact. From there we can best refine and even reimagine structures and systems for accountability, storytelling, and ownership.
If we want to do more than simply ‘extract’ these riches of experiential gold to track and improve client success, then issues of ownership are of crucial concern. What does ownership look like in your work, and how do you share it within your team and most especially with those you serve? Going further than participation and engagement, what ownership stakes do individuals living in communities and regions that you support have in your work?
We seek out organizations that want to share ownership with their constituents, that focus on the “We,” more than the “I.” This (re)distribution of ownership is about sharing power and accountability for the quality and success of the work. It’s about ensuring that people with the most direct, experiential knowledge of your services and supports are not just recipients but active agents in the making of your work.
Broadsight uses co-ownership and collaboration to elevate the roles that community members play in the organizations that serve them.
Shared ownership means positioning those “served” as possessed of the expertise and ownership stake needed to truly build change. Sharing ownership means redistributing control and power from central organizations out into communities, to people who will be impacted the most.
Ownership is about an agreement around accountability
Everyone has rightful ownership over their bodies and lived experiences. To own something is to be responsible for its wellbeing and care. Carrying that burden with respect entails being present, transparent, and honest.
The expertise of our clients and their community constituents is essential to the work we do. We believe that each and every person that we work with is sitting on a gold mine of experiential authority and holds ownership stakes in the impactful work of organizations that support them to thrive.
Client Spotlight: Evaluation Builds Your Team’s Confidence to Speak with Accuracy and Persuasion About What You’re Accomplishing
Brothers At Bard creates spaces and opportunities for colleagiate men of color to lift each other up
Pictured above are members of Brothers at Bard (BAB) including co-founders Dariel Vasquez (far L) and Harry Johnson (3rd from L). It was impossible to deny the gold in this organization created by men of color for men of color to support and mentor one another Bard College.
Five years into growing this campus-based organization, Dariel and Harry knew they were onto something special because their members were thriving academically and personally, actively participating, and growing beyond the campus to mentor high schoolers. But they didn’t have data or evidence to show how and why the men they served were flourishing.
Together with Jessica Payne Consulting (now called Broadsight), they co-created an evaluation based on interviews with their alumni. The study report – Our Space: Transformation Through Ownership for Collegiate Men of Color in Brothers At Bard – found that BAB created transformative experiences of ownership, brotherhood, love, and connection, expanding the possibilities of Black male agency and identity. BAB was also a contributing factor in improving the graduation rate of its members, who received their four-year degrees at a rate of 91.66% compared to 69.9% for Bard’s general population.
“I gained a deeper understanding of ownership in the work we did with Brothers at Bard. Their whole thing was that young men of color are the people best positioned to create solutions and programs for young men of color. Just that idea is so powerful, that from the get go, you walk in the door – and BAM! – that expertise is a given, even despite all the variations in background and experience that young men of color bring with them to college. That experience is already there – it doesn’t have to be earned — and you could get all of the degrees that you want, but that lived experience has a value that’s just undeniable. And it’s a force to work with, to build on as a strength and source of power and authority. So that’s what was really illuminated, tapped into, in our conversations with alumni.”
– Jessica Payne
Learn about Broadsight’s Impact
Learn more about Broadsight’s work with Brothers at Bard
Facilitated Ownership is the Way to Grow: A conversation about facilitated ownership with Harry Johnson, co-founder of Brothers at Bard
During February, Broadsight’s founder, Jessica Payne had the chance to re-interview Harry Johnson (pictured above), a co-founder of Brothers at Bard (BAB) and its nonprofit arm, Brothers@. In 2019-2020, the two co-created an evaluation study of BAB alumni that explored the transformative power of ownership when young men of color create programs by and for themselves. Extending from that earlier work (which included Jessica’s first interview with Harry) the conversation focused on the importance of processes and structures to facilitate effective ownership, while also delving into the impact of the evaluation process itself.
Excerpts from Harry’s comments
[Dariel Vasquez and I] founded Brothers at Bard for ourselves. We were men of color on a campus that had universal supports, but no significant support targeted toward who we were. We created it for ourselves, right? And so automatically, from day one, we owned this solution. [We started by offering a space, we call it “The Space,” where Bard men of color could meet up and talk about what is really going on for us living on that campus. Darial and I], we were actively, intentionally shaping the conversations that happened there, in a way that would liberate those in the conversation to really be bold and take the space, to be themselves and make it their own.”
“But at the end of the day, ownership continues to need to be facilitated to a degree. 100% ownership, but also a person– or an entity, a system or structures–to be on your side, to help ensure that you will be successful.”
Read the whole conversation between Jessica and Harry in our News section
Learn about Harry Johnson on LinkedIn
News: Celebrating the accomplishments of Broadsight’s Impact and Operations Executive, Cinamon Blair
We’re proud to announce that Cinamon Blair has been appointed to the Worcester County Commission on the Status of Women
The Worcester County Commission on the Status of Women is a group dedicated to the advancement of women toward full equity in all areas of life. They also promote the rights and opportunities for all women and girls. We are so proud of Cinamon and her appointment. We know that she will bring her expertise and authentic self to this role and she will be an amazing addition to this Commission.
Learn more about Cinamon and the Commission.
“I believe so strongly in creating work settings where you’re invited to bring all of yourself into your workplace, where the knowledge and the skills and the experiences that you have – which everybody has – where there’s openness to all of that and you’re invited to contribute. You need to feel like it matters what you’re contributing and that you’re being invited and encouraged to contribute and to feel that sense of ownership.”
– Cinamon Blair
By Cinamon Blair
Impact and Operations Executive, Broadsight
Inevitably, when I think of the word ownership, my mind automatically goes to the negativity of owning a human being because nothing has been done of relevance to undo the wrongs of our past in that dehumanizing act.
Ownership of self is not donning societal labels.I define myself and myself alone. No one else has that authority and that is the only “thing” I own because to own something means it is yours and no one other than oneself can change that.
It’s weird and unreal to think about ownership with people, it’s a very strange word to use with people. Even owning a relationship is kind of bizarre. It’s more like belonging, right? I belong in a relationship with these people.
Ownership of self is also a sense of belonging…wherever you are. We don’t own Earth, we belong on Earth, it is our place of origin. Our parents don’t own us, we belong to our parents because they are our place of origin.
Ownership also comes from nurturing spaces, experiences, and activities made by and for humanity, transferring ownership of our lives, stories, and culture is our power, it’s our human capital.Ownership is building upon our lived experiences to support and empower ourselves and others in community.
This concept has been central to my work for a long time. In 2009, I received a grant from the Nutrition Department at UMass Amherst to write a Reggaeton song focused on the importance of having a healthy diet geared towards Black and Brown teenagers. So what do you think I did? I went to the experts: Black and Brown teenagers. Theywrote the song and I coached them along the way. We found the beat. We recorded the song. The only lyric that I added was the hook, informed by them. I reflected, Who is this for? Let’s ask them what they actually think and need to know about nutrition. That is acknowledging ownership.
Listen to the song and see the video we created.
“My ownership in Broadsight is holding myself and my team accountable in the work that we do within our group and with the clients and communities we serve. In my role as Impact and Operations Executive, I own the smooth sailing of this partnership, anchoring us when we drift, as we surely will, and as we build momentum.
Ownership shows up in the intention of specific connections and new relationships. This month we were grateful to connect with some inspiring innovators in our region:
Free Soil Arts Collective is a Black Woman Owned non-profit organization, out of Lowell, MA doing amazing work in the arts, connecting communities in Lowell and beyond.
Self-Evident Education out of Amherst, MA is on a mission to “Tell it like it is”, the true American Story; not whitewashed or sugar coated, just uncovering the truth.
Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service (CRESS) provides a civilian, unarmed alternative to the Amherst Police Department and the Amherst Fire Department for those in need or making 911 calls that don’t involve violence, serious crime, or fire. Amherst is the first town of its size in the U.S. to fund and develop this service. Courageously led by Director Earl Miller and Assistant Director Kat Newman, keep an eye on this pioneering effort.
We are grateful for the amazing work that these organizations are doing.
The best thing about working in our Broadsight Team is that we are a chosen family, working from a place oflove, honesty, truth and respect…and, always, laughter. We are all bringing something unique and special to the table and in that there is reciprocity and belonging.
Thank you to Harry Johnson for taking the time to “chop it up”! Let’s keep this conversation going and see how facilitated ownership continues to evolve. And thank you to Dariel Vasquez, co-founder of Brothers@ for your consistent dedication and boldness. You continue to inspire us and so many others.
Keep an eye out for next month’s newsletter where we will be discuss how Wellbeing figures in Broadsight’s work.
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