When Dr. Roz Diane Lasker talks about the importance of unusual voices in civic life, she raises provocative questions that just might change how you think about your work with communities. Lasker, who will be featured on next week’s On the Balcony alumni teleconference call, is a physician known internationally for her work on public participation in community planning, policy development and problem solving.
Lasker spent a day at the Kansas Leadership Center last fall, meeting with KLC faculty, staff and other members of our Design Team. She shared stories, statistics and a strong point-of-view informed by her considerable research related to what the KLC calls “engaging unusual voices.”
She challenged our thinking, raising the heat considerably in the process. I remember realizing as I listened that making progress on deep, daunting challenges in our communities would require even more discomfort than I had previously thought. Lasker helped me understand that achieving healthier, stronger, more prosperous Kansas communities will require going beyond engaging unusual voices.
It will also require making sure unusual voices have influence and breaking down barriers to that influence, both in our systems and ourselves. For me, it means acknowledging that whatever empathy I have for under-represented members of my community, whatever my past experience, I cannot speak for them.
If my experience is any indication, a dialogue with Lasker about “unusual voices” is an experience that you may reflect on for months to come and might significantly influence how you approach civic leadership. You can register now and join us for a unique opportunity at 11 a.m. Tuesday to discuss an important aspect of “Energizing Others” in Kansas communities.