Talk:Community Advocacy for sustainable development
Philipp Grunewald, Fri 2/28/2014
It is time to turn towards the next focussed discussion on the future of our beloved KM4Dev community.
We are all very good at outlining the challenges we face in our work, how much we disagree with how things are done in the development sector and how much of a pain it is to us, that we still have to justify the need for KM and learning in the context of development. We complain how little funding there is for such work and how often our M&E exercises lead to reports that either are not written with learning as an objective or never read again by people that maybe should have. Many of those problems and challenges originate outside of our spheres of influence when we act individually. We have to come together and change the “landscape of practice” we are part of.
There are at least two reasons why that is important:
- For our own sake: If we want our work to become more relevant, if we want more people to listen to us, if we want more funding for core functions like KM, if we want an environment that is receptive and supportive of the contributions Knowledge (management) for development can make then we have to take things into our own hands. We have to advocate for KM4Dev.
- For everyone’s sake: John says that “It is about time KM4Dev became more altruistic by taking on more complex issues in the interest of global development generally.” Sustainable development will not happen if we do not learn from past lessons, it will not happen if we do not champion human capacity, it will not happen by the people that are supposed to know about this stuff sitting quietly in a corner.
John Akude, in his study ‘Towards greater Advocacy’ (pdf) funded by the IFAD synthesis project, states that “in order to fully realize the potentials of K4D, it would be necessary to have an advocacy group promoting the relevance of its application. Due to the overarching position of KM4Dev, it somehow appeared natural to me that promoting K4D would be one of assignments of KM4Dev”. He goes on stating that he “was slightly shocked to hear … that this is not on the KM4Dev agenda”.
In that spirit, the first question I would like to ask you is:
''SHOULD KM4Dev take an advocacy stance? Why or why not?''
Looking forward to your thoughts and contributions!!!
Best wishes, Philipp
Jaap Pels, Fri 3/02/2014
@Tina, @Nancy Fair enough but let go of either / or and let us start framing in and / and / and.
In messages I read the lenses / perspectives Community, KM and Development. Also I have noticed the central - decentral / core-group - locals controversy. I once mentioned to think in KM4Dev.NET, KM4Dev.ORG and KM4Dev.INC.
Perhaps a combinations of the above dimensions should e addressed in scenario's. @Phillip Advocacy might fit global net efforts, F2F gigs fit community and org, where working with donors and other int.dev.orgs flourish a KM and INC issue.
So lets shift from what KM4Dev is towards scenario's what KM4DEv will evolve in.
Pete Cranston, Fri 3/03/2014
Sebastiao, I love ‘the flux of ideas’ and I agree that it is one of the central, sustaining sources of energy within KM4Dev. Another is the people within it, and the re-invigoration of people who operate in facilitative/steering/admin/activist modes is another essential sustaining mechanism which, as Riff said, was fuelled by the more frequent meetings f2f there have been in the not too distant past. (And local group meetings can surely feed the fire)
I’m sort of stuck, though, because I want to make a point that relates to advocacy but it is also part of this thread - so Phillip, John, please note! For me, all the diversities of KM4Dev - of perspective, value, meaning, location, ……. is another source of energy. And Sarah Cumming’s recent call for volunteers to engage in some advocacy seems to me entirely in keeping with that diversity. I don’t think KM4Dev as a whole should engage in advocacy - indeed couldn’t because there isn’t ‘a KM4Dev’ in that sense, neither formally nor in spirit. But that Sarah could call into the network, get some responses (wish I had the time!) and get started seems to me exactly how we can have a voice in policy conversations, led by those with the interest and will. In the same way that some people are excited about getting a newsletter going, and others about fundraising.
And volunteer CG member is another expression of that diversity. Your principles, Sebastiao, seem a great summary of what is essential, except perhaps will: Sarah demonstrated that will, and got a result. She didn’t need any kind of formal structure to make it happen. So, rather than the Nike phrase, perhaps Primo Levi’s expression of a partisan call could be one of our strap lines, “If not now, when?"
Philipp Grunewald, Fri 3/07/2014
With regard to our advocacy discussion I would like to take Paul Watzlawick’s lead who famously said: “One cannot not communicate”. If this is true than in the last week the KM4Dev community has given the loudest and firmest of all responses to the question: SHOULD KM4Dev take an advocacy stance? Why or why not?
The answer is a resounding: NO!!! Whilst discussions of internal processes and identity finding continue, talking about our environment and how we shall engage with it seems an unpopular topic. However, there having been no responses to the initial Email does not mean that no one picked it up on the side-lines.
Jaap suggested that “advocacy might fit global net efforts, F2F gigs fit community and org, where working with donors and other int.dev.orgs flourish a KM and INC issue. So lets shift from what KM4Dev is towards scenario's what KM4DEv will evolve in”. However, that did not lead anywhere besides voices expressing their dislike for thinking about KM4Dev in any way that draws on splitting it (devising categories, areas of work, etc.). Nancy might raise a similar concern when stating that: “philosophically I absolute love the idea that KM4Dev should be more altruistic and serve development. The realist in me says this is a structural mismatch”. This “structural mismatch” of community vs. sector leads her to argue that “by focusing on community and KM, we become stronger agents of that wider change through other, more formalized structures (of our orgs, etc) and we become INFLUENCERS as a network”.
So is this how a community engages with its environment? Through its members individually rather than through organisation?
Sebastiao seems to have come to a similar conclusion. “Some years ago I bore the opinion that KM3Dev should dedicate to the role of knowledge in development in the 21st century. I think I was wrong. Now, I see the future of KM4Dev closely related to the future of the community of development workers, predominantly from developed countries, but with an increasing number of southerners”. And so has Pete: “For me, all the diversities of KM4Dev - of perspective, value, meaning, location, ……. is another source of energy. And Sarah Cumming’s recent call for volunteers to engage in some advocacy seems to me entirely in keeping with that diversity. I don’t think KM4Dev as a whole should engage in advocacy - indeed couldn’t because there isn’t ‘a KM4Dev’ in that sense, neither formally nor in spirit. But that Sarah could call into the network, get some responses (wish I had the time!) and get started seems to me exactly how we can have a voice in policy conversations, led by those with the interest and will. In the same way that some people are excited about getting a newsletter going, and others about fundraising”.
Hypotheses and Questions: Maybe we would like for KM4Dev to take an advocacy stance; maybe KM4Dev should even take an advocacy stance; however, the simple truth is that KM4Dev cannot take an advocacy stance because we do not even know who or what KM4Dev is!? KM4Dev does not have a single identity and, thus, cannot stand for any one thing. However, that to me means that there are certain things one can say about: KM4Dev wants to be inclusive rather than exclusive. KM4Dev is too diverse to centre around a few ideas and unite behind them. KM4Dev rather changes itself than its environment. KM4dev is re-active rather than pro-active. KM4Dev wants to surf on rising currents rather than being fixed to the ground.
Some of these things relate to [Nancy’s Blogpost] (http://www.fullcirc.com/2014/03/05/network-and-community-governance-part-1/). As Pete above Nancy thinks that KM4Dev not having a single identity does “not exclude forays into advocacy. The lenses do not imply “either/or” but simply help us explore from a variety of perspectives”. However, to me this is similar to what Jaap suggested and that avenue did go very far.
I wonder, as she does, how the entire community (all those people who never add their voice) see this? And I wonder, if one part of a brand (KM4Dev) could be involved in advocacy whilst another wants to stay “neutral”?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Best wishes, Philipp
Martina Hetzel, Fri 3/08/2014
Hey all, when exactly will you meet in Europe? I would like to contribute with some ideas/thoughts/questions I have in mind. Tell me the date and I organize myself.
Nancy, I really liked your drawings (you did an interesting facilitating part), I wouldn´t merge columns, its interesting to explore it more and not to reduce complexity. I would like to know what the right corner (above) is :-) I would add in some way northern/western perspectives and southern/eastern perspectives. Also there is something about different roles: managers/team leaders etc. - practitioners/advisers - researchers & more There are different needs and potentials behind. It would be worth to explore it. It would be great if we/you (Core group) could consider Nancys framework in future thinkings. I am e.g. on the right side.
Phillip, I recently (in the moment) saw the thread about advocacy, dont know why so late. I think its not that easy to discuss in general. I had many questions reading your post. For me advocacy its not about altruistic approaches, its about the big dev. business moving around all day and it could be so much better including KM4Dev (with real capacity development included!!!) in a better way, starting (for example) analyzing and learning about planning frameworks with ministries and big funders. To many times people try to make plans better, without having asked people (practitioners, researchers) what workes and what not. There is a big role for researchers in my opinion. I will read the pdf you mentioned...
Having two little children and a full time job - it takes a little time. So, I am going to tidying up toys now :-)
Greetings in the world, Tina
Sophie Alvarez, Fri 3/11/2014
Dear Phillip, all: My inbox's first 20 lines start with KM4Dev something or other. Rather than this or that being more interesting (or even more crucial) than something, some of us may be going a bit crazy with the abundance of cool stuff to discuss, really. This is not a complaint, rather an explanation for how silent I was with the focused discussions, all.
But i find "the simple truth is that KM4Dev cannot take an advocacy stance because we do not even know who or what KM4Dev is!? KM4Dev does not have a single identity and, thus, cannot stand for any one thing." to be a simple untruth :). The "thus" part, especially. I agree that KM4Dev indeed does not have a single identity, but i contest this that means we "cannot stand for any one thing."... and that it has to be just one. This is also too much: "KM4Dev is too diverse to center around a few ideas and unite behind them"- to unite unanimously, perhaps. To find a good group/ critical mass within the KM4Dev universe to advocate for an idea not only is doable- we do it all the time. The rest: "rather changes itself than its environment, is re-active rather than pro-active, wants to surf on rising currents rather than being fixed to the ground"- i do not see how any of these go contrary to advocating. I think we can, already do and possibly should more, stand for a few. Perhaps i need to understand better (gulp- may be in some materials i have failed to catch up with) what we mean by "Community advocacy" - can someone give me some examples of the types of activities/ products/ desired results/ relationships this would include?
Presently advocating for longer Mondays, s
Martina Hetzel, Fri 3/14/2014
Hey Sophie, Phillip, John, Peter and all, (sorry for long mail :-) its the first time in years that I read papers from KM4Dev-CoP. John, I found your paper quite interesting, thank you. Above I made some notes reading the paper. Peter, I also read the note at the ning site. Interesting to imagine the way the CoP made already. Its really, really impressive standing on a 14 years effort. Sophie, you asked for examples: I think there are different discussions and actions in KM4Dev (when I say KM4Dev I mean the topic, not the CoP). You can classify them. For me there is a micro level (facilitation, methods, online tools), a meso level (for example how to garantee good KM4Dev in dev. programmes - what means "good"?) and there is a macro level (K4D, KM4Dev policies in ministries and multilateral funds, also global policies in economics and their influence in the societies and knowledge practice etc.).
I feel that I need changes on the meso and macro level, that the micro level really gets an impact. The interesting thing would be more KM4Dev policies and awareness on ministry level (based on good, practical research, and giving us a better performance). So when I try to think about these levels, I got aware that the people to whom "we" should speak (and work with) arent KM4Dev people. It would be another process and its almost impossible to manage it on a individual/volunteer way. You need organizations, well structured projects and a long-term vision doing it. At the end its about thinking about projects going this way. May be KM4Dev-Cop is the glue, but not the thing implementing it? Look: We can apply KM4Dev micro methods 100 years more, and there won´t be changes or a greater impact. I came to this conclusion, but action research should help in argumentation, speaking to decision makers. I am no researcher, I just see the practitioner side.
I don´t have clear answers what should be done, just a feeling and I am interested in the topic. Some questions to John and Philipp: - what literature do you recommend to dig further into K4D, differences to KM4Dev (could you recommend max. 3, more would be impossible for me to read) - are there influencing networks you know from whom we could learn? I found thisone: http://gotothinktank.com/dev1/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/GoToReport2013.pdf But its about organizations. - are there any blogs or ressource sites you recommend? - what KM4Dev/K4D research projects are going on? Are there any? Where can I get insight?