The Myths Of Non-Redundancy In Communities

In virtually every community engagement event I attend or facilitate, someone invokes the old conversation about the social evils of redundancy.  According to this model, people newly energized by something someone is "already doing" needs to find a different passion. They are expected to confess their unwelcome passion and join an existing effort. Funders leverage this old conversation to justify social program funding cuts via mergers and acquisitions.

Much of this mindset is based on the implicit assumption that bigger is better. One larger program is more efficient and effective than a few or several smaller ones. I don't think we have evidence to support the assertion, especially given the data that many people in institutional social programs feel more disengaged than people sharing ownership in smaller entrepreneurial programs.

We need to invite new conversations about how to create rich ecologies of social programs and innovations.