Generating ideas, connections, and action

Lessons From Creating Space XII

Creating Space 2015 has the potential to change the conversation about leadership development if we listen deeply to the voices and experiences of people on the ground doing heavy lifting change work in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities. There were several important questions that surfaced during Creating Space 2015:

  • What is leadership (or who is a leader)?

  • What is leadership development?

  • What are the problems with these concepts and language?

What is leadership?

The theme of Creating Space 2015 was focused on learning from and about non-traditional leadership.  The first thing we learned was that some people do not like to use the term “leader”, some felt the language “non-traditional” did not honor cultural traditions that shape the leadership of people who we were using this terminology to describe, others used the term indigenous leadership while some felt that this diluted the meaning of indigenous, some used the term grassroots and others community leadership.  Language will continue to be a challenge, maybe a useful one while we reclaim leadership and its meaning.  We did know that we were not talking about positional, hierarchical, ‘go it alone’ leadership and there was also agreement  that people who work on very real problems in their communities are critical forces for change.


What is leadership development?

On our first day together at Creating Space we were joined in a talk show format by three amazing guests: Tracy Chandler from LINC who works with kids in her neighborhood school as a volunteer, Mary Luevanos, an activist artist with Community Connections who is working with young people in her neighborhood, and Clark Washington, an organizer who works with Detroit Action Commonwealth to tackle problems related to poverty and homelessness. Our talk show guests were asked what supports are most helpful to their leadership. Their answers to what is most helpful are telling:

  • Access

  • Resources

  • Healing and self-care