Thursday, February 25, 2010

SPEC(tacular) conversations with coworkers

Yesterday we convened a focus group at HSC to talk about our organizational culture. We were led by our friends at the University of Miami SPEC program, in which HSC is enrolled. The idea of the program is that through self-reflection and staff participation and action, organizations like ours can become more Strengths-, Prevention-, Empowerment-, and Community Change-based. Yes, that is quite a mouthful, and it's also been quite a rewarding process. The program forces us to ask tough questions. Do we consider power, justice, class, race and gender in evaluating problems and devising solutions? Do we view community members as assets? Do we invite our constituents to help shape the organization's direction? Some of my coworkers in the focus group had rosier views than others about these matters. Most of us agreed that we can improve in one or all of these areas.

But of course, one tough question leads to another. Are conversations about race (squirm) and class (cringe) prohibitive to getting funded? Can we help people become empowered without pushing our own agenda? These are issues we will have to delve deeper into as the organization transforms itself, but it would be great to hear from the public about how we can be more SPEC-ey.