Co-powerment is communication that seeks to lift the confidence, energy and agency of another person, self, and the relationship.
Every day we energize our own power to achieve what is important to ourselves and those we love – like personal success and improved communities. It’s equally important that we interact to co-power family, friends, co-workers, and community because we desire their success and we also want to accomplish good things together.
Years ago I coined the term, “co-powerment” to create mindfulness for a practice that would be more collaborative than the hierarchical relationships often implied by the idea of “empowerment.” Thus, co-powerment is communication that seeks to lift the confidence, energy and agency of another person, self, and the relationship. It is lifting the power of self and others.
The better we become at co-powering, the more we grow deeper relationships that develop our power to create positive personal, family, and community change. Together with others, we grow the movement to advance a world of love and respect.
Over the years, I have received numerous inspirational stories and requests prompting me to deepen my understanding and possibly prepare a practical book on co-powerment that would illustrate its practice and potentials.
One of my clients is Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation, a premier California housing development organization. Their Community Building manager, Kathryn Benner, shared with me the effect of co-powerment in her work: “The idea of co-powerment has tremendously influenced me, our department, and programs,” says Kathryn. “It helped me make a radical shift in how I see my work and the communities we work for: instead of focusing on deficits, seeing the many potentials.”
Kathryn continued to share several stories about the application of co-powerment as a guiding principle and a source for innovation within her organization’s work relationships, programs and strategies. One of her examples took place during a recent community mural project.
More than a dozen young people between 11 and 25 years old spent their Saturday making house calls to get residents out for a community meeting. At the end of the day, inspired by the idea of co-powerment, Kathryn’s colleague called the youth together to participate in an honoring circle.
The organizer expressed her gratitude for their accomplishments and invited the youth to take a few minutes to recognize in each other the value they had brought to the project. One by one the youth were able to offer each other the gifts of positive feedback. The immediate outcome was an energy lift for all participants and concrete example of how they could positively support each other. Kathryn’s team was able to continue building on this experience to strengthen the bonds among a number of the youth and their commitment to community involvement.
My vision is to prepare a book designed for activists, organizers, parents, teachers and students that illustrates the power of co-powerment for connecting self and others to their power for agency, learning, growth and love.
I would appreciate to hear about how you as activists and leaders are using or experimenting with the concept of co-powerment and developing this practice.
If the concept of co-powerment or co-powering communication has been of value to you or if you have been involved in any creative or unique co-powering activity within your relationships, family, organization or community, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to keep you current on my learning and progress. Many thanks!