Collaboration and Confrontation  


The last two mornings I’ve taken part in conversations that have me thinking about how change happens, and the role of collaboration and confrontation.

The first was one of the many “Big Table” conversations Tuesday, sponsored by the Columbus Foundation.  The question of the day was how we might work together to improve our community – a big question, but one that garnered plenty of energy.  Most of the people in the room worked in the corporate and government worlds and the value of collaboration was emphasized.  Columbus is known nationally for its collaborative spirit.  The fact that nearly 500 of these Big Table conversations took place, well above the initial goal, testifies to this.  One of the directions our conversation took was recognizing who all wasn’t around the table, and how Columbus continues to be a place that is economically segregated.  How to give voice to those in survival mode not holding positions of social power?  How to extend the willing hand of collaboration?

Yesterday morning I met with the BREAD Executive Committee.  BREAD is a collaborative effort of 40 diverse congregations around Franklin County working together to solve specific problems we identify collectively.  But BREAD often finds itself at odds with community leaders who hold the power and resources to make the change.  BREAD confronts unjust systems and regularly receives pushback for its efforts.  BREAD relies on ‘people power’ to elevate our voice and achieve our goals.  It has a history of success in promoting positive change, and has done this through plenty of confrontation.

I don’t mean to draw a false dichotomy.  Collaboration and confrontation may be something like the feminine and masculine energies at work all around and within us.  It takes a lot of wisdom to know which to emphasize and express in which circumstances.