Forging Structures, Systems and Policies that Work in Communities: Stories and Lessons from Building Healthy Communities

by Bonnie Ratner; Connie Chan Robison

Jan 1, 2013

In this case study series, we explore successes, opportunities, challenges and transitions experienced "in place" as communities endeavor to create and sustain healthy communities for children and families.

  • Being intentional about managing divergent theories of change early in the process can alleviate conflict
  • Open communication and transparency about shifts in thinking and approaches can support smoother transitions
  • Clear and designated roles and responsibilities of all the partners from the outset is helpful
  • The role of a host agency as neutral convener is can be slippery, which should be acknowledged and addressed early on
  • Opportunities to practice shared leadership through trust-building retreats and facilitated conversations can assist in the development of new structures to support governance and decision making
  • Rooting stakeholders in a common set of values before group decision making can thwart unnecessary tension
  • Consider an alternative approach to coalition building during the planning phase—this might lead to a more suitable and/or inviting structure for experienced community activists and leaders
  • Have intentional strategies to work through issues of inclusion and transparency to address race and structural racism
  • As young leaders model collaboration, more established, “seasoned” leaders could learn from youth and, sometimes, move out of the way
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