Posted: February 26th, 2023

Module 3: Group Discussion-Response(collaboration governance)

Respond to students in Group.

Instructions: Each Module 2 through 7 has an associated small group discussion that should focus on discussing the course content for that Module. Each discussion will span the two-weeks of the Module. Each group member is required to make an initial post during the first week of the Module (i.e., the first Wednesday through Tuesday of the Module) and then respond to each of the other group members’ initial posts during the second week of the Module (i.e., the second Wednesday through Tuesday of the Module). Initial posts should aim to be 200-400 words and while there is no range for peer response posts these should be substantive and include more thought than “I agree with your point” or “I said something similar in my post”. 

Use your own creativity in approaching the posts. Types of observations and reflections in the posts could include the following (but aren’t limited to this): 

· Pick a topic or concepts from required readings to reflect upon (e.g., what and why something interested you; what did you find the most interesting or practical that helped you gain new insight or skill). 

· Critique readings by adding something you can justify, showing how an author missed a point.  

· Validate something from the readings based on your own experience or other reading.  

· Include a discussion question for the group based on readings. DO NOT pose generic questions such as “What was your favorite part of the reading?” or similar questions. 

· Relate readings to contemporary events or news and post a link. 

Elise Joanna Higdon

TuesdayFeb 14 at 8:10pm

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This module’s literature was very enlightening about the many types and nuances of collaboration. I thought Ran and Qi made some very valid and important points about the often rocky “marriage” of power and trust; that relationship can be extremely delicate, and turn on a dime depending on the slightest shift in dynamics. Nabatchi et al.’s breakdown of coproduction was also very interesting, and a helpful look at the types of collaborations. I especially appreciated how they noted that significant research is simply unavailable in some cases, due to the nature and scope of the efforts. I’ve seen this – and other aspects discussed in all this module’s literature – recently in several of the collaborations with which I’ve tried to assist.

The first that comes to mind is a potential collaboration between Friends For Life, a social services organization here in Memphis that seeks to prevent HIV/AIDs, and to serve those affected by HIV/AIDS through a variety of healthcare, holistic, education, and nutritional programs. FFL has served Memphians for over three decades, and is both well-established and well-regarded in the community. We at the Assisi Foundation (henceforth referred to as AFM) are trying to negotiate some sort of partnership with FFL and a newer organization called A Betor Way. A Betor Way is a small nonprofit (five employees, aside from the founders, four of whom have lived experience with addiction) that was started after the founders’ son died of a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose. They’re a small organization that operates a free needle exchange, Narcan, and meal program every Friday evening in the parking lot of the abandoned Shoney’s on Summer Avenue. Studies overwhelmingly show that clean needles help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS – and that participants in exchange programs are incrementally more likely to eventually seek treatment for their addiction. A Betor Way has neither a permanent physical space nor a substantial board – much less any significant nonprofit experience (the founders pay their small staff from their personal savings), so introducing them to FFL seemed a logical step. AFM is endeavoring to help facilitate a relationship that could benefit both parties; since A Betor Way largely serves a population of unhoused sex workers, they could bring a new level of experience and scope to FFL’s efforts. And FFL, with their new, 41,000 sq. ft. facility on Poplar Avenue, may have space to house A Betor Way and help with their client services.

Obviously, the power and trust dynamic between an organization with a great deal of experience, strong board, and multi-million dollar budget, and a small, volunteer-based new nonprofit can be littered with landmines. Fortunately (in this admittedly VERY early stage), the fact that their missions closely align establishes a certain level of immediate trust. The individuals at both orgs are all like-minded, and obviously in the business of looking out for the betterment of others. I am hopeful that this will be a shark-and-remora relationship that benefits both, and all of their clients.

Because both organizations have received state and federal funding, this would qualify as a group coproduction – however, since the state recently declined to accept millions of dollars in funding that would benefit HIV service organizations, that component is now out of the picture. Additionally, federal funding that allowed for grants to provide salaries, testing, and even clean needles is also in jeopardy. Worst case scenario, this could mean that both nonprofits will have to increase fundraising efforts in the same small donor pool; hopefully that will not sour the relationship, but time will tell. Both organizations, by the way, are also interesting examples of Harwood’s civic engagement v public input – in a negative way. The fact is, almost no one wants either of these organizations’ physical footprints in their neighborhood; no town halls or forums are likely in their future, lest they stir up increased public outcry.

The second example that comes to mind is the current $5B project to revitalize a roughly 6-mile stretch of downtown Memphis. This collaboration between Memphis River Parks Partnership (Tom Lee Park), the National Civil Rights Museum, the soon-to-be-relocated Brooks Museum, the Cotton Exchange, and others, was initially met with trepidation by many of the agents due to the fact that everyone involved is in a position of power-over in their own way. However, with careful and thoughtful planning, organization, transparency, and communication, these organizations actually complement one another and serve as a significant force multiplier. It is currently estimated that their collaboration will translate into delivering $1.1B in ten years; for every $1 invested, Tennessee will receive $2 in new taxes, $50 in economic impact, and $10 in private investment.

My questions to the group are: As observers, what challenges do you see regarding a potential relationship between FFL and A Betor Way – or other organizations that are aligned mission-wise, but in vastly different stages of their life cycle? And what are your thoughts on if and how “controversial” nonprofits such as these conduct either civic engagement or public input?

Lasty, FYI – here’s a shot of the progress at Tom Lee Park. The large canopy you see towards the top of the photo is the canopy that has been dedicated to the memory of Tyre Nichols.

Reginah Yetunde Mako

TuesdayFeb 14 at 9:07pm

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Civic engagement is one of my favorite topics to discuss, perhaps because it is so complex. In an ideal society abundant with knowledge and resources, civic participation would be so easy to achieve, fail-proof even. But as we think about how we, as community members and aspiring public servants and nonprofit leaders, can garner public participation in our spaces, it is important to remember the factors that lead to the complexities we face: power and trust. 

If my memory serves correctly, I believe Victori touched on an important point about power dynamics between different actors last week. Upon reading this week’s readings, I want to come back to her point and dig deeper. Greenwood, Singer, and Willis (2021) assert that power and trust, both integral components of collaboration, act as “entangled twins” rather than a causal relationship with one influencing the other. This cyclical relationship between power and trust influences the extent to which actors, especially the general public (who are typically perceived as being further removed from the policymaking process), are able and willing to participate. The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) provides an explanation of public participation existing on a spectrum. 

While watching the video, information/informing was one of the main areas of the spectrum. However, the rise of anti-intellectualism and misinformation in conjunction with increasing levels of distrust among governing officials challenges this. The public’s response to COVID-19 is a prime example. A 

2021 pollLinks to an external site.

 found that 78% of the public was not sure about at least one of eight false statements about the coronavirus or the COVID-19 vaccine. This puts into perspective some of the aversion to the vaccine, as well as how apparent this issue is. 

With this in mind, here is my question: How do we garner public participation in the age of misinformation?


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