How We Govern and Why
At its core Youth Passageways is a network-organization rooted in ancient wisdom and practices while remaining connected to the tools and innovations of our emerging future.
In our process of mindful development as a network, Youth Passageways has found kinship in a system of governance known as Spiral Governance to meet its unique values, needs, cultures, and purpose. In alignment with our commitment to ongoing learning, this governance system is and will be a living process that will continue to adapt and evolve over time, just as Youth Passageways, and each of network partners, will.
Why a Spiral?
The spiral is dynamic, alive, and ever-evolving, rooted in the lineage and examples of the natural world. In spiral governance, concentric circles of responsibility and stewardship are dynamic and open to change. At the same time, seats of responsibility and authority are clear, and individuals holding those seats are empowered and accountable to make decisions and keep moving forward in a timely way. The spiral allows communication to flow between these circles freely and clearly. Everyone has the opportunity to input, and the voices in the outer circles have a way to be seen and heard.
What Does it Look Like: Circles of Responsibility
The Spiral Governance system consists of expanding spheres of responsibility that are dynamic, interconnected, and changing. The Youth Passageways spiral is comprised of the following concentric circles of responsibility: Values & Mission, Staff & Leadership Circle, Stewardship and Advisory Councils, Partner Circle, and finally the Greater Community, including You!
What Makes a Spiral Governance Model Different from Standard Nonprofit Forms?
One of the most striking features so integral to this form of governance is how it holds the vision and mission of what is being governed as the prime act of governing. Consider not just the conceptual but the visual form of a spiral, your eyes are naturally drawn through each fractal group towards the center point. Likewise the Youth Passageways mission and vision are the living seed that when protected and nurtured, germinates and sprouts into a strong and enduring livelihood.
Another is that the spiral calls those who are not there into each conversation and decision that we make, from those who may not have the ability to physically engage as well as those who ally with us in principle or spiritual energy. Just as importantly we invoke the wisdom and guidance of our many and diverse ancestors as well as those future generations for whom we endure. This is the importance of why we as an organization chose to mirror the spiral’s shape, to create a community of interlocking groups stretching both inward and outward in equal and balanced measure, to practice interdependence at the organizational level just as we seek to help our partners better achieve within their communities.
Because of this we practice what is called the ‘Witness Seat,’ which means that:
- In all meetings and councils, there remains an open seat. This open seat reminds us to be continually listening for the voices not physically present, and holding in each of our hearts the place of witness.
- Individuals that are not fulfilling a role in a specific circle are invited to sit & be present in this open seat, serving as a witness to the process and offering a witness comment at the end.
- This open seat keeps things alive, diverse, awake to what’s available, and transpersonal (people feel that their concerns are accounted for whether they can make it or not).
- This form supports the larger circle remembering that they are responsible for holding witness space whether they’ve stepped forward into a leadership role or not.
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