This summer, I had the good fortune of participating in the UnSectored Working Group focusing on refining UnSectored’s vision and mission. We reflected on the first six months of UnSectored and shared ideas about what it could look like in its second year.
After coffee shop, living room, and backyard conversations that brought us together to share our suggested edits to documents that Jeff was good enough to draft and redraft, we got to a clear articulation of what we do and our values. The task was not as simple as thinking about how to describe what we do. It became an ongoing discussion about what UnSectored should be.
For those of you new to this site, UnSectored is, “a community of people who believe that social change is the responsibility of all individuals, organizations and sectors. We work between and beyond sectors to collectively define progress and enact change.”
It’s understandable that this description might remind one of collective impact, defined by FSG as, “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem.” Both UnSectored and collective impact promote the importance of gathering people from different sectors and share an end goal of making change.
Despite this similarity, collective impact and UnSectored are not the same. Solely focusing on the cross-sectored nature of both ignores the important distinction that collective impact is an approach with a clearly defined goal, and UnSectored is a platform without an agenda.
This summer, the Working Group thought about whether or not to develop UnSectored into a community centered on a few issues that we believed were vitally important to improving the DC community. People from all sectors who shared our beliefs would join, and our group would see what we could do to help make change. While still different from collective impact in many ways, this route would have more closely resembled that approach.
Instead, we decided UnSectored could provide highest value as an on and offline platform for people with very different viewpoints to learn about one another’s perspectives (the trick, of course, is how to get people with very different viewpoints together). This might result in multiple actions that appear in direct contrast to one another, but a common end is not our goal.
When you read our final Working Group products (what we do and our values), you will find a description of a process and an articulation of basic principles that guide how we interact with one another. Is UnSectored a cool platform for exploring ways to achieve social change beyond the scope of just one sector? Yes. Is it a collective impact approach? No.
Beyond collective impact and UnSectored, what cross-sector approaches and platforms for social change do you use in your community? And how do you foster a welcoming environment for people with conflicting perspectives?