Awakin Calls » Tuesday Ryan-Hart on Sep 19, 2020

Equity and Relationships at the Center of Systems Change

Our guest this week believes that working together drives collaboration and the discovery of shared purpose, rather than vice versa. The real work, she says, is that which drives collaboration (or perhaps paraphrasing Rumi, that which moves diverse groups beyond whatever stands in the way of love). With this framing, what do you see as part of your real work? Share Your Reflection »


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Video Call with Tuesday Ryan-Hart

Sep 19, 2020, 09:00 AM PST


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Tuesday Ryan-Hart leads large-scale systems change with a deep understanding and practice of how equity, when put at the center of new movements, frees the path to better ideas that work. She is a co-founder and partner of The Outside, an organization supporting efforts at making systemic change that centers equity into design and delivery to fuel the movement and big change beyond the way things always go. Tuesday believes that the impetus for social, organizational and systems change often starts with a "big bang" -- "something urgent enough to make us realize the effectiveness and relevance of our systems is diminishing exponentially." But such a big bang "is not a resolution"; it is "a dramatic state change from which we explode See full.

Tuesday Ryan-Hart leads large-scale systems change with a deep understanding and practice of how equity, when put at the center of new movements, frees the path to better ideas that work. She is a co-founder and partner of The Outside, an organization supporting efforts at making systemic change that centers equity into design and delivery to fuel the movement and big change beyond the way things always go.

Tuesday believes that the impetus for social, organizational and systems change often starts with a "big bang" -- "something urgent enough to make us realize the effectiveness and relevance of our systems is diminishing exponentially." But such a big bang "is not a resolution"; it is "a dramatic state change from which we explode outwards towards exponentially greater complexity and chaos."

Such an impetus simply provides the basis for the longer term process and practice of bringing together groups to work toward common intentions, to "move and keep moving, perfectly imperfect, learning and stumbling and iterating with every application." We may "like the drama of epic turning points" or big bangs, but "from the long game’s perspective, exponential complexity is a gift. It forces disparate groups into conversation."

Tuesday's approach for working with groups and organizations through such a resulting emergent change process is guided by the view that finding a shared purpose or vision is not a prerequisite for doing work together; rather, doing work together is frequently the prerequisite for building relationship and getting to shared purpose. According to Tuesday, attempting to arrive at shared purpose too early can leave some voices marginalized. And so the ordinary practice of seeking shared purpose at the start of collective work leaves some people out -- thus holding groups back from doing the real work.

Tuesday believes that when we work together, we nurture our relationships with each other and find shared purpose. “The thing that drives collaboration is the work that is in front of us.”  This is the basis of the Shared Work Model.

“Often the differences between collaborators -- different perspectives, backgrounds, ideologies and aspirations -- becomes the focus of meetings rather than getting work done together,” Tuesday says. “Shared Work offers a way for us to think about taking the next step together to begin to move forward on those issues and challenges we care about in our organizations, communities, and systems.”

A host/facilitator who left the fields of traditional social service provision and academics to become a new kind of change-maker partnering with clients around the world, Tuesday’s work is featured in the book Walk, Out, Walk On by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, and she is known internationally for her strategic work with organizations and communities engaged in systemic change. Tuesday helps diverse organizations and communities with shared interests reframe commonly-held assumptions and persistent issues, surfacing a new mindset for action with greater participation and shared impact.

“We do not believe in three-ring binders,” she says. “We believe in rooms full of energized people who know how excellent it feels to make progress, and who are incentivized by those good feelings to make more progress. Though the status quo approach may feel easier or less uncertain, defaulting for comfort stunts movement. Let's look outside the usual expectations, assumptions, and actions for the greatest possible potential. This is how we enliven the space we share. Events, training sessions, the long game of systems change. Practical experimentation. Mindset-altering learning. This is how we turn the ship into an entirely new current.”

Tuesday acknowledges that she, like any individual, can have only part of the answer.  In a complex world, one person cannot have all of the answer, and so hosting diverse teams is the task of leadership.

Trained as a psychotherapist, with a BA in Individual/Family Studies and a Master's in Social Work, Tuesday is an expert in transformational work, specializing in helping individuals, non-profits, governmental agencies, and organizations of all sizes undergo the changes that will help them grow and become more successful. With a passion for social justice and expertise in gender & racial equity, Tuesday excels at working with groups to enhance awareness and understanding, build alliances, and take positive action together. 


As part of a Columbus, Ohio “community of practitioners,” Tuesday is a steward of the Art of Hosting global community of practice, mother of two, and a long-distance runner who recently ran her first triathlon. She feels pride and awe for her African-American side of her ancestry, while recognizing the impact of generational trauma and enslavement on Black families.  “There is beauty in the oppressed experience and hardiness and resiliency. When I look for strength, I am looking to my Black ancestors,” she says.

Join us in conversation with this gifted systems change strategist.


Five Questions for Tuesday
What Makes You Come Alive?

The light after the darkness. Being a survivor of significant childhood trauma, I know the darkness well.  And I’ve been diving into those dark places - sadness, loneliness, and pain - and then coming out the other side. Finding my own strength, knowing my own light, aware that this hard work of moving through the darkness is the RIGHT work for me.  And the truth of being in the darkness, being with the darkness, means that I’m not sure where it will lead me. I’m right on my edge, with the only clarity being my own compass.  
 
Like all of us, I don’t like to feel pain or distress or sadness, but like all of us, I have always carried it. But a truth with a capital “T” is that my light has always been bigger. I am able to carry the reality of abuse and oppression and devastation right alongside my aliveness and goodness.  I am not afraid to look at the darkness because it illuminates the light:  the truth of who I am. The ability to withstand, witness, and bear the truth of my really tough childhood experiences is part of my light.  
 
After the darkness there is always light. There just is.  And IN the darkness there is always light. There just is.   So my own seeking to be self-luminous is where I come alive. Finding that light inside me that is not, and cannot be, overtaken by the dark.
 
And, of course, that’s why I like working with impossible groups in impossible situations. Because I can see - even when we’re in the dark together - that we can find the light.  That it’s there. That there is a luminosity available to us, if we have the fortitude to stay together. 

Pivotal turning point in your life?

Oh, so many! I want to share a recent one.  Two years ago, I separated from and then divorced my partner of 20 years.  And I share this because my marriage was a good marriage. It was solid and worked in many ways, and my husband was a good man.  But - and this is why it was so pivotal - as good as my marriage was, there was no room for certain parts of me that were growing and calling for growth. Those parts just couldn’t fit in to the primary relationship I was in. I simply couldn’t grow in the ways I needed to grow in that context.  
 
And I chose growth. And choosing growth meant I had to leave. Even though it was a decision that, in many ways, made no sense from the outside.  It was an excruciating decision to make. And even though I knew it was best for me. Would eventually be best for my children and even their father, it was a hard leap to make. 
 
And it changed everything. I believe that there is something we are here to do. That we must go after ourselves courageously.  I believe that our own growth and expansion, our luminosity, is our responsibility to our work, the world, and to God.  
 
And I needed to be a person who did that.  

An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?

When my son was young, I went away to a short conference and had a nice time there meeting people from around the world and learning new tools for collaboration and dialogue.  And at the end of the conference, I said to the organizers something like, “I like the picture you are painting here, but I can’t find myself in it.” And they kindly invited me to sit in on a few more sessions and meet a few more people. At the end of that day, one particular man - who would later become a mentor and business partner - leaned over to me and said simply, “I hear we have some work to do together.”
 
The next week, I joined him in a large, 300 person gathering around healthcare and then a conversation on racial justice in a neighboring city. We worked together for 7 more years before he retired.  
 
And he really, really didn’t have to do that.  He was established. He was busy. He was doing meaningful work.  But, somehow, he just offered - just that simply and just that kindly - to bring me along with him.  And that’s how I started the work I do to this day. 

One Thing On Your Bucket List?

I want to take a pilgrimage, but I’m not sure to where yet!  But there is something moving in me and my experience of the divine Feminine that wants to be met. I can feel my body wanting to move through space, to journey physically to a place, where I will commune with Her and deepen my understanding of the sacred.  It’s not formed but it’s on the list!

One-line Message for the World?

Strong back, open heart.

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