Connecting to solutions outside our field of vision

By Jill Winsor, Financial Innovations Director

To be most effective, we must continue to leverage our respective expertise, but also proactively work with others to find and connect solutions that exist outside of our own field of vision.” – Laura Choi and David Erickson

This quote really gets at what the RE:Conference is all about – providing a space for the asset building world and the affordable housing world to come together, rub elbows and cross-pollinate. When we can collaborate across programs and sectors, we have the opportunity to increase our impact in our communities. Great partnerships and projects have come out of past RE:Conferences and we trust that this year will be no different, especially because we will have Laura Choi there to challenge us to deepen our collaboration with one another!

On Wednesday morning, November 16th, Laura Choi will headline the opening plenary. Laura Choi is a Senior Research Associate in Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Her background and experience in both housing development and financial well-being make her an ideal candidate to help us explore the intersections of our collective work. Her work focuses on policy and practice related to the expansion of economic opportunity for individuals and communities with low incomes. We are especially excited to hear from Laura Choi at the RE:Conference because of her commitment to this cross-sectoral approach to community development.

In the essay “Toward a New Business Model: Strengthening Families Helps to Strengthen Communities and the Nation”, found in the book What It’s Worth, Laura Choi and David Erickson remind us that there is no single solution or perfect intervention to serve people with low incomes –

“Focusing on household financial well-being can help us break out of our silos – asset development, community development, health, education, public safety – and reach across sectors to achieve a common goal. We know we have to shift from outputs-the number of bank accounts opened or Head Start slots filled – and focus on outcomes – the numbers of lives improved.”

This is great news for our work in Oregon! The people who attend the RE:Conference are committed to working together to address complex problems from all angles. We know that a vibrant and intricate community support system built with multiple organizations devoted to a variety of services and populations will be essential to Oregon’s future success.

Laura Choi and David Erickson propose a set of five steps to bring us closer to a holistic and collaborative approach to community development:

  1. Adopt a “complex adaptive systems” approach.
  2. Integrate across sectors.
  3. Strategies must address both people and place.
  4. Be guided by data.
  5. Develop new funding strategies.

These suggestions ring true to us here at Neighborhood Partnerships and reflect our approach to this work. We hope that the way we’ve designed this conference will do the same – give a view into a systems approach, allow for integration across sectors, highlight place-based strategies, and present new data. To dig into this framework, make sure to read the full essay and join us in Salem this November to learn from Laura Choi in person. RE:Conference registration is open, and the Early Bird deadline is next week, September 23rd. We’re updating the agenda as we can, so remember to keep checking back for more details and previews!