In the first episode of season three, Tim and Tuesday talk with Cyndi Suarez, author of The Power Manual, where they explore the complexities of power and language. Join us for an invigorating, heartfelt and insightful conversation.
Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.
3.01 — SHOW NOTES
- Cyndi: In the last few years, I’ve realized a different form of leadership that I’ve been exploring and I’ve been calling it “Articulation Leadership.” Seeing the power in putting things that we want into words; how that just opens up different worlds and possibilities.
- Tim: A lot of what we [The Outside] do happens in the experience that people have with each other but it becomes vastly insufficient when you are talking to someone about some major transformation work, that they will feel has very high stakes to it, and then you’re like, you have to really experience it to know what we are talking about. And so, we’re really in a question of how do you use words to evoke something that in some ways is felt? And then there is something for me about whether we are developing a new language or is it about finding the right words for the moment? Those are the two big questions we are in.
- Cyndi: The work of translation - of being able to both dive deep for the depth that you need and to find common ground - is one of the biggest challenges of organizing for power. It often does require redefining these identities that have been put on us and at the same time you need to reconnect with a larger table.
- Tuesday: When you talked about translation or connection; there’s a piece that is strategy. Part of it is grounding and deepening so we know what we’re doing and who we are to do it, but then there is also this piece around strategy that you just have to pay attention to. The reason we formed The Outside is because we felt like as we did systems change work there was very little power analysis and then in some of the movement-based spaces, there wasn’t much strategy to the level that you are talking about - not connecting out to make change. You have to do both to get you where you want to go.
- Cyndi: In my work, I am constantly challenging people to question the idea of shared strategy. Why? Why don’t we have a portfolio? Why do we have to agree? What do we have to agree on? This idea that we have to agree on everything is really extreme and tiring. It does not allow for the diversity that we have in our spaces. It doesn’t encourage it. I think there is a way that we need to be both humble and sophisticated in these conversations. We have to care enough and be curious enough about people. Being drawn towards difference is less explored especially in leadership and translation work.
- Tim: That bridging role is about power but also what we are often doing is pitching to people who hold wealth, influence, positional or hierarchical authority something that in many ways will undermine the established power that they have or the way they have got to that position of power. What’s the language that translates into positions of power - why power needs to be let go of and how does that begin to start shifting people’s fundamental beliefs about themselves and what it means to lead in today’s world? What’s the language that’s hard enough to bridge into the leadership worlds that we are currently engaging but soft enough to point to something new?
- Tuesday: Cyndi, you’ve just said so many interesting little nuggets… I am curious how you got to where you are?
- Cyndi: Since I was a kid, I always knew that I was going to write about power. I loved reading. Reading has always been a big part of my life. I am attracted to things that are different and that I don’t know.
- Tim: How do you stay tuned to this?
- Cyndi: I’m reading this book called Sacred Contract and one of the things that she says about people who tend to create something new or something big is that there is a point at which they have to go against the tribe. They always have to break from what is known to them in order to make their contribution. I think part of it is that. I came knowing and trusting myself and I have a spiritual practice - I am very inward focused. I spend a lot of time imagining what I want. My trajectory has been that I always end up doing exactly what I wanted to do.
- Tuesday: You feel so clear in your internal compass and there is an outward thing that is happening - you don’t feel afraid of ideas. It’s so unique. Also, please tell us about The Edge Institute.
- Cyndi: The Edge Institute grew out of the work that I do with Nonprofit Quarterly and The Power Manual. When we engage people of colour, in the sector, no matter what level of leadership they were in, people really wanted a different space, outside of their organization, to come and to think and to be with other leaders and to explore and create the new forms they want or suspect other people want. “Forms” is everything from subjectivity, to organizational form, to interactional frameworks… anything that is a form; that’s what this is a space for. It’s a larger thing than a project in a nonprofit world. Launching our interactive website in October 2020 - edgeleadership.org
Song: “Mountains,” by The Vision, feat. Andreya Triana (Danny Krivit Remix)
Poem: PEACE, by Akala
Peace is on the way
By the sword they say
After this, this last blow
Last chop, last drop
After this, this last scream
Last shout, last trample of boot
Just one more, one last
Rubble wreck where once were dreams housed
Last plane, last flame, last sky
Just one, one more naked Vietnamese girl
Be she Russian, Israeli, Palestinian, Sudanese
Or great, great, great, really great British
Just one more placard wielding warrior
And this last sword-slinging gunman
One more song of machine metal
Hurtling death to outrun life
Just one more war
Then we can have peace
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Find the song we played in today’s show—and every song we’ve played in previous shows—on the playlist. Just search ‘Find the Outside’ on Spotify.
Produced by: Mark Coffin @ Sound Good Studios
Theme music: Gary Blakemore
Episode cover image: source
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