Paul Schmitz founded Public Allies Milwaukee in 1993. Its mission is to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. He recently wrote a book called Everyone Leads. The Stanford Social Innovation Review took a look at that book; here’s what they said. “For Schmitz, the process of leading and building a community requires three elements: the leadership and engagement of residents; the services and support that neighbors provide to neighbors; and the coordination and collaboration toward common goals among citizens, associations, nonprofits, schools, houses of worship, and businesses in a neighborhood. The most successful community projects do not come from the top down, but from the ground up. People from local neighborhoods must work shoulder to shoulder to reach their goal — and without that deeper level of engagement, argues Schmitz, goals will not be reached.” This sounds pretty simple, logical and elegant. I sure wish it was the prevailing viewpoint and approach for our community. It just does not seem to be. We have too many examples where institutions, the dominant power structure, even nonprofits believe that the best way forward is top down and outside in. This, “we-know-best” attitude shifts positive change away from everyone leads. That just does not promote enduring change.
I ordered this book and I hope I will share what Schmitz has to say about power and process. I’ll get back to you.
What do you think about how lasting change happens?