How we do our work is as important as what we do. It isn't easy to collaborate across so many lines of difference, fields, sectors, and approaches to change. Funder collaboratives as a model can hold tremendous promise but are not without their challenges. Being committed to meaningful partnership with the field requires we hold complex power dynamics and inequities of access and opportunities well.
This work requires radically new ways of being and acting together which inevitably raises questions and criticism. As we’ve moved from vision into action this year, we’ve been discovering what gives people pause about whether pluralism is the right approach for them and their work. Skepticism and questions have often centered around, “Is pluralism simply about civility, where anything goes as long as we stay together? Or are there lines we will draw?” and “By choosing unity, are you asking us to ignore the harms that others have caused our communities? “Is pluralism contradictory to justice?”
That’s why this past year, we developed practices to help find our way through thorny challenges. We know that a commitment to diversity, equity, including, and belonging are core to our mission - and that it goes beyond words on a screen. We are developing internal practices to help guide us as we expand our network of funders and partners and grantees, build our team, and make strategic choices. Our ethics practice, for example, will help us navigate moral and ethical dilemmas when it isn’t easy to discern where and how we “draw lines,” and where we can enable restoration and healing. In the spirit of learning and transparency, we’ll be sharing these practices and what we learn from them over the coming months.
Where we’re going: What’s coming up in 2022
At first blush, pluralism can be a fuzzy and abstract concept that feels intangible and hard to act upon. So in 2022, we’re going to be focused on getting real about pluralism. We’ll be working with partners who are showing how it can be felt, seen, and experienced in very real ways, with very real results. The language we use and the frameworks we build must appeal to many types of people working toward many types of outcomes. Early in 2022, we’ll be working on:
An interdisciplinary literature review to understand the current state of research and evidence about pluralism and pluralistic practices. Our goal is to enable ourselves and audiences working in this space (especially funders) to understand what works and what doesn’t, and how to know whether we’re making an impact in ways that can inform our future investments in research, evidence, and knowledge.
A community-driven pluralism project led by Field Builder Scott Shigeoka and his diverse team. This ethnographic storytelling project is rooted in an asset-based approach to community-driven pluralism and will enable us to listen and learn about pluralism and its impacts from people who embody and advance its tenets. It will also help us discover new ways of thinking about culture change.
We’ll also be sharing several opportunities to engage with New Pluralists and learn more about what we’re doing, including:
Opportunities to join our team. We’ll be growing our small and mighty team in the coming months, so stay tuned for opportunities to share with your networks and to apply.
Grant opportunities to support people, organizations and work that is connecting dots, framing and make the case to advance pluralism in our society.
Grant opportunities to enable organizations to meet the stressors Americans are facing in 2022 with pluralism - by telling different stories, building courageous alliances, healing old wounds, or navigating conflict better.
Making choices to direct our learning and energy and understand where and how pluralism can gain traction toward demonstrable impact, in ways that inspire and inform all of us.
Everyday People Leaping into Action
This work is for everyone. And it’s critical that it comes from everyone. Transformational change is happening now, and it’s coming from people across the country who are working to build stronger and more cohesive communities. There are many more stories - big and small - to gather and share that will help us make sense of who we are, and who we might become.
We are striving to root ourselves and this work in our guiding principles and we invite everyone to join us. Share your stories and actions that demonstrate pluralism in action.
Throughout the last year, one question I’ve been asking myself (and others) is “what does pluralism make possible for my work? Our communities?” And it’s a question that I want to open up to all of you as well. We all have a role to play in building a country where everyone belongs. And your answer will reveal something about what you can do, and where we can work together.