When everyone belongs, everyone succeeds and other truths from john a. powell


We’re getting better at identifying the harmful impacts of the structures that surround us. We know how a housing market that values profit over families hurts us. More part-time work and fewer full-time positions hurts us. Higher education that leaves many students with a crushing debt hurts us. Last night, professor john a. powell spoke about these structures in front of the Multnomah County Commission as well as a group at Self Enhancement Inc. where I was in attendance. He also spoke about the ways in which structures can lift us up.

Structures aren’t neutral and they aren’t natural – we build them. What will happen when we rebuild the structures that surround us and turn them into “opportunity structures”?

To create opportunity structures, john a. powell charges us to affirmatively include all of the many people in our communities. It’s about belonging. When we widen our circle of concern and affirm that everyone belongs, we can start to create the pathways that allow everyone to succeed. This is the truth of Targeted Universalism: we must identify the universal goal – that everyone in our communities is healthy, successful and safe – and create targeted pathways to make sure that everyone reaches this goal.

You may have heard folks at Neighborhood Partnerships talk about Targeted Universalism. That’s what we keep coming back to in our conversations about housing opportunity and asset building. Last night, professor john a. powell reaffirmed the charge we are tasked with – creating opportunity for all Oregonians – and strengthened our commitment to relying on Targeted Universalism to achieve this goal.



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