November 10, 2021

Sharing Power

At Florida Policy Institute (FPI), our values are our north star. They guide our work and reflect who we seek to be: we pursue equity, lead with integrity, share power, and act with kindness. The following reflection is part of FPI’s new “In Our Words” series, the goal of which is to make space for those stories and experiences that help shape people’s outlooks on policy and government.

Professionally, I grew up in children’s mental health services research. During my time in that field, we were moving away from a “medical” model toward systems of care in which patient–centered, family–driven, and youth-guided care principles shape mental health care. These principles say that people are experts on themselves and their lives, and that medical experts and professionals have a lot to learn from them. These principles also mean that health care is a partnership, not a hierarchical relationship. That families and consumers can demand “nothing about us without us.”

We believe our power is greater when we work together. Every single day.

This was also a time when community–based participatory action research was gaining greater currency.  Instead of a paradigm in which the expert researcher observed or measured a community, in this paradigm research is an opportunity for mutual learning and advancing social justice. Learning that is richer because of the genuine contributions of participants, more than a researcher could ever learn at a distance. Learning that is richer because it builds on the assets of the participant or community. Action that is more impactful because it is identifies issues facing a community by that community. It is more impactful because the community can study and consider together with the researcher how to solve a problem with solutions that make sense for that community.

So having “grown up” in this context, sharing, inclusion, and partnership drives what I do. Sharing power just makes sense to me. It is exemplified by this quote: “The total effectiveness of a group of things each interacting with one another is different or greater than their effectiveness when acting in isolation from one another.” At FPI, we strive to live up to this every day. Our Roadmap to Shared Prosperity is centered on this idea that we can advance shared prosperity by nurturing inclusive communities and building a strong safety net.  We believe our power is greater when we work together. Every single day.

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