Looking for Serendipity in Sacramento
I went for a run one morning.
My path took me past places both old and new — by my midtown watering holes, the new Powerhouse 16 apartments, the dilapidated remains of the Ice Blocks, and of course, the ever-expanding arena site. Feeling both nostalgic and excited for the future, I couldn’t help but think about how much things are changing in Sacramento.
Every chilly breath in and out and each step over the sidewalks I had traveled in all states of consciousness over the years, I was trying to define a feeling that I expect many others have also experienced. There’s an air of excitement, similar to that moment when you hold your breath before cascading down the rollercoaster hill.
This is our moment.
This feeling encompasses more than just the renovations on K Street, the explosion of life in the R Street corridor or rejuvenation of Oak Park. This is a revitalization of culture — but, why?
A friend and colleague of mine named Avary Kent, co-founder of the collective impact organization Conveners.org, has a theory.
“We are facing a paradigm shift as a species. We are dealing with increasingly complex problems that require collaboration and innovation to tackle”, said Kent. “A new way of thinking is required — within our language, our culture and our actions.”
Luckily for us she notes, “We are able to tackle this problem by working together”. I couldn’t agree more.
In fact, we’re seeing this concept come to life all over Sacramento. Once bound by the constraints of the nine-to-five cubicle work environment, innovative co-working spaces such as The Urban Hive and Hacker Lab disrupt the status quo. Once told our spaces must be defined and separate, the WAL Artist Lofts showed us we can combine our love for food, art, and the place where we lay our head at night into one.
Beyond just what these concepts offer tangibly, they also embody an ideal. This ideal tells us: by working across sectors, ideology and geography, we can truly combine forces to achieve real change…real impact.
This is the future of Sacramento.
This ideal has manifested itself independently in a variety of industries. Anytime you hear or see the terms “association”, “coalition” or even “political action committee”, you’re seeing a group of people that understand the power of collective impact. Essentially, this means they have joined forces, pooled resources and influence, and created shared goals and priorities in order to have the greatest possible impact in their area of interest.
This concept has remained fairly exclusive to labor unions, business associations and action committees — until now. We’re starting to see this ideology permeate into the social sector, which is where I get excited.
Despite Sacramento gaining a new arena, new restaurants, new work spaces and new art, we’re still seeing the same stubborn and complex problems persist. We have citizens without homes or basic needs resting in our streets, pervasive sex trafficking throughout the city and my personal area of passion, serious gender and racial inequality inherent in our governance, economic and social systems.
But fret not, change is on the way.
Organizations such as Sacramento Steps Forward and Next Move aim to tackle the many diverse issues associated with homelessness in order to create holistic solutions for the city, while political groups like the Fem Dems team up with the nonprofits My Sister’s House, SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project), and CASH (Community Against Sexual Harm) to inform the public on the dangers of sex trafficking.
As my bias would have it, we’re also seeing a combined effort to empower women in the community as well. The Lean In circle turned community group called InspireMidtown envisions professional women to leading with confidence, while an organization called The Vagina Monologues fundraises and increases awareness of violence against women. And these are just a few examples.
So, this got me thinking: what is the future of impact for women in Sacramento?
I began convening with women’s organizations small and large, business leaders and researchers of gender inequity to build a framework. We decided to look beyond the siloed mentality of individual organizations in order to understand how we can identify where gaps leave women falling through cracks, how reducing repetitive work can increase efficiency, and ultimately how utilizing our collective impact can touch the lives of women in the community.
This is a future I’m looking forward to.
I believe that by viewing complex problems as a collection of smaller, more manageable issues, we can implement solutions that work in tandem to address them. These solutions require agreement on a shared vision, strategic use of resources, willingness to innovate and above all, collaboration. In light of the building momentum of economic and social development in our city, the time couldn’t be more ripe.
This is our moment.
As I rounded the corner to my midtown apartment, feet pounding rhythmically on the pavement, I reflected on a piece of advice Avary had offered to me. She said, “Watch out for serendipity. When the pieces just seem to fall into place, that means you’re on the right path.”
I believe this is our serendipitous moment, Sacramento.
Caity Maple -election nerd, craft beer snob and passionate women’s advocate. When her dog isn’t dragging her up mountains, she can be found roaming around midtown talking politics, collaboration and all things Sacramento.