Power shifting through building a community towards collective change – the #ShiftThePower Global Summit
25 Jan 2024
This blog originally appeared on the Restless Development website.
When someone asks you to introduce yourself, what’s the first thing you think of? For me it’s “Hi, I’m Yande the Power Shifting Director at Restless Development…” and the rest follows. Who are we without the values that shape us and follow us in our vocational day jobs?
“No more egos, logos and working in silos” was the introductory call to action in building a community space at the #ShiftThePower Global Summit, organized by the GFCF from the 5 -7 December 2023. The Summit brought together over 700 activists, civil society, researchers, funders and NGOs to Bogotá Colombia all bound together by our collective ambition to shift power in the development sector.
The #ShiftThePower movement has emerged over the past decade as a result of dissatisfaction with top-down structures that fail to deliver. Coming together to insert new voices in the development knowledge economy and to explore new ways of deciding and doing, with a Manifesto to guide our collective thinking.
It was an inspiring and re-energizing three days of collective community building, weaving conversations (borrowing from the rich weaving artistry culture of Wayuu women in our host country Colombia), “friend raising” not fundraising and healing our collective trauma; fighting years of colonial baggage comes at the cost of emotional toil.
The #ShiftThePower Global Summit for me was a safe space to convene diverse voices to speak about, learn and share what shifting power means to them. So, my reflective question to you is this – in your community and sphere of influence, how can you be part of the movement to #ShiftThePower? Through your organization internally, through the approaches you are taking, how can the values of agency, trust, inclusion, accountability and mind-set change be included in your everyday life and work? How can you be more inclusive and supportive of marginalized communities and shift power from those who traditionally hold the power?
At Restless Development, we are guided by our Power Shifting Checklist and committed to shifting power as an approach to the work that we do and to unleashing Youth Power. We are dismantling power structures that disadvantage marginalized communities and young people, to achieve a just and sustainable world. As a part of the #ShiftThePower Fellowship we are proud to work in partnership with the GFCF and the #ShiftThePower team.
The Summit was all about embracing diversity and leveraging collaboration. There are many approaches to shifting power and there is no one right answer, but what was inspiring about the Summit in Bogotá was the chance to meet within a community that shares a common goal; to decolonize development, and realize that we are indeed not working in silos.
Leaving the Summit it became clear that collective change begins with a resilient community, we need to build a resilient community towards collective change. We cannot shift power in the development sector without activating a movement with a collective force that transcends our job titles, positions, programmes, agendas or roles. Community building is about discovering allyship and not working in silos to effect change. It is about letting go of individualism and carrying the collective values of our movement which is held together by our mutual values of agency, trust, inclusion, accountability and a change in mind-sets.
As Nana Afadzinu from the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) aptly put it:
“Ants are great creatures when they come together. This is the concept of the #ShiftThePower movement. Bring together different communities to build a strong ‘anthill.’ We need each other.”
So when asked to introduce myself, I now add, my name is Yande and I’m part of a collective movement to change the world.