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A Dance That Creates Equals: Unpacking Leadership Development

October 21, 2005

Our cooperative inquiry focused on the question "How can we create the space/opportunities for individuals to recognize themselves as leaders and develop leadership?" Early on, our group realized that we were not referring to leadership as an individual act as is traditionally the case. Instead, most of the stories we shared throughout our inquiry dealt with the details of close working relationships with people in our organizations and communities.Exploring what must happen for leadership to be shared led us to see the need to encourage a genuine shift in the leadership relationship, in which someone steps back (whether they do it consciously or not) and someone steps up. (In our conversations we've termed the latter crossing over.) We are very clear that these two actions are linked but are not necessarily sequential.

Sun of Justice Rising: Tonatierra Community Development Institute

February 3, 2005

Salvador Reza, a longtime organizer for indigenous Mexican rights, helped lead a successful campaign to organize taco vendors in Phoenix. Faced with a local ordinance that would restrict the operation of mobile food stands, effectively banning them, Reza and his colleagues at Tonatierra mobilized the vendors to fight back. Their ultimate success recaptured the spirit of a community traumatized by 500 years of colonization and cultural destruction. Tonatierra's strategies included the following:Involve Vendors: Once vendors understood that the ordinance targeted them and threatened their livelihoods, they were able to establish a working group, representative of the community. They fashioned a way of regulating vendors that would ensure safe food and safe neighborhoods.Create a Team and a United Voice: The vendors negotiated among themselves until they could present their recommendations as a team.Rekindle Culture: According to Reza, "We are fighting back, but not with weapons of guns. Our weapons are culture and understanding and communication."