About a year ago, we traveled with a small group from Oklahoma City to Indianapolis to explore the potential of collective impact. “This work moves at the speed of trust,” we were told and “data should be used as a flashlight, not a hammer.” There, at a convening of communities from all over the country, we witnessed a great interest in collective impact. Each community had its own flavor, its own obstacles and its own strengths.
We wondered if the Oklahoma City metro might benefit from work in which a varied set of stakeholders move in a common direction and with common measures of progress. We knew if it was going to work back home it would have to be tailored to and driven by our own community.
As a first step, we began to gauge interest. Many people were excited by the prospect of working together as a region, and some were not. Other people were concerned about “false starts” and timing. But, in nearly every meeting, what attracted people most was the possibility of working together in a new way with a new focus: “bright spots.”
We wondered what would happen if we flipped the focus, if we centered our efforts on stories and practices that already work. What if we studied local successes and worked to share them with the region? What would happen?
We wanted to find out. After meeting with dozens of community members, we discovered others were interested in this idea. From that work came this report: a by-no-means comprehensive portrait of a yearlong effort.
In her groundbreaking book, The Good High School, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot says…that portraits capture essence…tell you about parts of yourself about which you are unaware, or to which you haven’t attended...That portraits make the subjects feel “seen” in a way they have never felt seen before, fully attended to, wrapped up in an empathetic gaze (Lightfoot, 1983).
Through this document, we hope the greater Oklahoma City region will see itself in a new way. We do not dismiss our community’s challenges, rather we hope a focus on bright spots might be a productive and efficient method for confronting them. We know good things happen in the Oklahoma City metro every day. We want to find those exceptionally good things and share them with others.
Sam Duell, Kasey Boes, Tom Curran and Dave Lopez