(Photo by Flickr user Ethan Schwartz, used under a Creative Commons license)
If you’re a social entrepreneur, a member of the creative class or really anyone who’s working in a community that’s not your own, there are steps that need to be taken before moving forward with your project.
Especially if that community has been historically marginalized.
That’s the key takeaway from a recent Technical.ly Philly op-ed penned by Christopher Rogers, founder of education startup JustMaybeCo. While the piece mostly fumes over Klip Collective‘s new art installation at Bok Technical School in South Philly, Rogers offers some helpful tips for folks to keep in mind while pursuing projects in vulnerable communities:
- “Are we, across the organization, acutely aware of the suffering, both historical and current, that our work seeks to respond? Am I aware of how my past and present labor, decisions and ignorances may contribute to this problem? How is this info public-facing for those around us to self-assess?”
- “How might our project work obscure, or be made to obscure, structural injustices that led to this current opportunity? How are we publicly pointing towards the interconnectedness of this issue with other issues, simultaneously local, regional, national, global?”
- “How can we leverage resources to ensure dialogue and action centers on the necessity of structural changes to address those populations left vulnerable due to the imbalance or failure that we have recognized? How are we planning towards our eventual obsolescence?”
- “How does my project continue to recognize and invest resources in the marginalized communities’ capacities and skills to struggle toward systemic change? How are we uplifting their voice in our current approach?”
Here’s the wrap: If it’s not your community, it’s not your narrative to tell. At least not without input from the community itself.
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