This time of year at SICI is always full of celebration. We are nearing graduation on campus and the community seeds we planted at the start of the academic year are now in full bloom. If you want just a sample, see the moving presentations from the Social Innovation Showcase we hosted last week.
For every project I’ve been a part of, in every place I’ve ever lived, the definition of “community” has been unique. In New Orleans, neighborhood meant a lot. Community was the people who literally lived next door, the ones whose porch I could sit on after work. In Los Angeles, community was a network of networks, loosely linked through individual relationships, spread all across the city’s sprawl. In New York, community was shaped by the institutions I invested in, and especially the ones that reciprocated, by investing in me.
When our Kennedy School colleague, Professor Marshall Ganz, teaches about leadership, he encourages his students to start with a question about community: “Who are your people?” He once explained: “That question doesn’t mean ‘Who is my ethnic group?’ It means ‘Who is it that I’m committed to working with?’”
For SICI, Marshall’s definition fits well. Our people are located around the world, across networks, sectors, and institutions. They hold many positions in society, many different identities, even different values. What connects us is a common and enduring commitment: to spend the precious days we have in active pursuit of a more just, sustainable, peaceful, democratic, and thriving planet for all.
When ideas fail, circumstances change, and the future looks uncertain, community is a constant. It is a grounding force, a source of energy, and a guiding light. So this month we celebrate you. Whether you are a colleague, partner, co-author, student, alum, donor, affiliate, contractor, follower, reader, editor, listener, reviewer, advisor, critic, peer, volunteer, friend, or neighbor…please know that you and your work are what we think of when we say “our SICI community.” We are very proud of our collective work so far this year and can’t wait to see what comes next!