The positive change that is needed in our system, in our communities, and in the lives of children and families is complex. As we find ourselves in the gap between where we are and where we want to be, it becomes evident that we in the field of early childhood cannot do this work alone. We must invite all stakeholders from all levels and all sectors to join us in building the future, and we must develop strong alliances and partnerships in order to intentionally address our current reality and collectively advance into the future. While it sounds on the surface like an obvious and easy approach to affecting change, genuine collaboration demands that we develop a deeper understanding of the assumptions, biases, and prejudices that we carry as individuals with us into the work and that we explore the “us versus them” that exists throughout our system.
Systems are made up of individuals, and so it is Positive Spin’s belief that true systems level change begins at the individual level. When we take the time to see people for they are, and we feel seen in return, we are more likely as individuals to practice openness and to challenge ourselves to get comfortable with the kind of vulnerability and uncertainty that collaboration and change asks of us. Recently, we attended the World Forum on Early Care and Education and were reminded that it is connection – real connection – that fosters the kind of innovation, intersection, and inspiration that will bring us together, and it is through authentic engagement and relationship building that we find the courage to let go of our need to fulfill an agenda, to hold onto power, and to maintain control. It is time that we break down that which divides us and explore the idea that we are more alike than we are different. It is through the process of discovering a common ground and a common purpose that we build a foundation wide enough for us all to stand on as we join together in the creation of the future we seek.