What You Need to Know
These key issues are essential to understanding how we can support thriving people and places.
Stewards are people and organizations that are developing their abilities to:
- Take responsibility for forming working relationships with others to transform well-being across a region;
- Serve as natural boundary spanners because they are informed by place-based, interdisciplinary, multisector, and multicultural perspectives; and
- Understand that purpose must be larger than oneself and one’s organization, power must be built and distributed with others, and wealth must be invested to create long-term value as well as address short-term urgent needs.
Source: ReThink Health’s Amplifying Stewardship: Characteristics and
Trends Stewards Consider When Expanding Equitable Well-Being
System stewards increasingly recognize that it is not possible to counter systemic threats by delivering more and more services to growing groups of people in need. In fact, our tendency to over-rely on expert-led, technocratic responses often disempowers people, squanders resources, and is itself part of the problem.
Instead, we must become multisolvers: more likely to look through a macroscope than a microscope, to connect rather than go solo, and to solve for many goals at once rather than switch from one crisis to another.
When stewards move beyond the limits of a service marketplace, they often find new ways to work across differences, expanding the belonging and civic muscle we need to shape a more vibrant, thriving commonwealth.
Stewards in Action
This work requires bigness and boldness. People must be willing to say the things that have been swept under the rug for generations that have led to the dysfunctional ways we tend to see and address problems.ReThink Health
Explore how communities are taking bold, big action to advance equitable well-being now and for generations to come.
Advancing Intergenerational Well-Being in Fox Cities, Wisconsin
In 2017, 32 of these residents launched Imagine Fox Cities to celebrate all that Fox Cities has to offer—and to imagine the future of Fox Cities not just for tomorrow, but for generations to come.
“It’s important to think about the impact of our decisions, to understand the consequences of a 50-year decision.”
How Stewards can Drive Social Change
We see the value of helping stewards understand why organizations show up in the way they do. They can think differently about their own approaches. They can share openly and honestly the constraints that hold them back. And they can drop their guards to allow other organizations to take risks for or with them. These are the conditions for becoming better stewards of shared resources.
Stewardship requires a different posture for creating change. ReThink Health, a Rippel Foundation initiative, is building the field of stewardship.
Through research and evaluation, in partnership with stewards working at multiple scales, ReThink Health has identified essential stewardship practices:
- Expanding Aspirations: Seeing and stepping into a “whole system” so that strategies, projects, and initiatives become clearly oriented toward well-being and justice
- Embracing Interdependence: Distinguishing unique yet interdependent roles to enable closer alignment, deeper working relationships, and stronger mutual accountability among individuals and organizations
- Centering People with Lived Experience: Emphasizing authentic working relationships between organizations and residents in the regions where they do business—ensuring that people from marginalized populations are integrally involved in co-creating change
- Learning & Adapting: Embracing a culture of continuous action learning and adaptation to maintain a close fit between how stewards understand their role and the dynamic contexts in which they work
- Championing Stewardship: Drawing new stewards into the field and deepening the practice of those already involved—building a critical mass of stewards at multiple scales (individuals, organizations, networks) and establishing shared stewardship as a rising norm