For episode ten of season two, Tim and Tuesday contemplate what exactly we mean by the concept of power — intergroup, structural or systemic. How can we best share it, and invite more people to pick it up? How can we wield the power we have with integrity?
Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.
2.10 —— SHOW NOTES
- Tues: As we are getting ready to release a new online course on Shared Work, we realized we never did a podcast on Power. When we say power, we’re talking about multiple different kinds of power — intergroup, structural or systemic. There are three major kinds of power: (1) Power OVER: one group has more, and one group has less (i.e. race, gender, heterosexism, class, ability); (2) Power FOR: based on an advocacy model – I have power and I will use it on your behalf (i.e. therapist in family violence). Comes from a place of good intent but a challenging place to keep your ego and ethics in check; and (3) Power WITH: Coalitions/collaboratives – use our power together to move something forward (i.e. action, agenda). One of the dangers is that it can make us quite transactional with each other.
- Tim: The therapeutic lens called ‘transactional analysis’ is a lens that can help us understand wherever power is turning up in our world.
- Tues: Of course there is an element of personal power… and that still exists within this context of power in a larger societal or structural way. I can evolve and transform and be as aligned with my own power as I want but still in this moment, in North America, I have a very different future than you. Could we begin to conceive that, Tim, if you have more power; I have more power? Does power rest among us that we can tap into that is unlimited?
- Tim: There is something quite natural about power among (i.e. schools of fish).
- Tues: Cyndi Suarez wrote The Power Manual: How to Master Complex Power Dynamics. I’d love to bring her on to talk to her about what she is uncovering on power.
- Tim: Power has been misused pretty consistently and therefore has become untrustworthy. It wasn’t until I met Toke Møller that I met a man attempting to wield his power with some integrity.
- Tues: If you don’t have a great model of power, it is quite hard to determine how you will use it. So instead I pretend I don’t have any and wield it unconsciously or I can pretend it is happening out there and, again, wield it unconsciously. Fear of our own use of power keeps us from some real conversations and real change.
- Tim: The more I engaged through my work, with people in positions I perceived as powerful, the more I had to deal with my own issues of power. Suddenly, I’m realizing that I am arriving with a fundamental distrust of all these people because of the position they hold. That’s an indicator to me that I had work to do.
- Tues: For me, I showed up in those rooms not trusting and really because of societal positioning not feeling worthy being in those rooms. As a result, I had to get comfortable with my power.
- Tim: A lot of the analysis have become codified in our heads and then we become inflexible and then we only see power through those lenses. I feel that one of the essential ingredients of engaging with power is curiosity.
- Tues: You’re right and so if you don’t engage around power at all, the invitation is to get curious around how power is playing out in your organization and in your work and get curious about it. If you have a sophisticated discourse around power then I think the invitation is to really look at where that’s helpful and where it forwards your work and where it might be holding you back and what else can you get curious about. Let’s not pretend that it does not matter and have some agility and flexibility with it.
Poem: “Sometimes” by Sheenagh Pugh
Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes we aim high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
Song: The Power by Snap
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Produced by: Mark Coffin @ Sound Good Studios
Theme music: Gary Blakemore
Episode cover image: source