ENGAGEVirginia 2013

image When asked about his work, Ceasar McDowell always says, “Voice.” He has a deep and abiding passion for figuring out how people who are systematically marginalized by society have the opportunity to voice their lived experiences to the world. Ceasar believes that until people are able to lift up those experiences, they will be unable to participate as full members of society. Over the past few decades, Ceasar has been involved in many activities to bring this belief to life. As founder of the MIT’s Co-Lab (previously named Center for Reflective Community Practice), Ceasar works to help communities build knowledge from their practice or, as he likes to say, “to know what they know.”

Through his work at the global civic engagement organization, Engage the Power, he developed the question campaign as a method for building democratic communities from the ground up. At MIT, Ceasar teaches on civic and community engagement and the use of social media to enhance both. In addition, he is working to create a model of equitable partnership between universities and communities and to support communities to build their own knowledge base. Ceasar brings his deep commitment to the work of building beloved, just and equitable communities that are able to – as his friend Carl Moore says – ”struggle with the traditions that bind them and the interests that separate them so they can build a future that is an improvement on the past.”

The mission of the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) is to work for social justice and sustainability. IISC builds the capacity of people to collaborate for greater social impact by modeling, practicing, and teaching the skills and tools of collaboration.

All of IISC’s work is framed by three essential lenses:

– Building power, pursuing equity, ensuring inclusion
– The power of networks to leverage social change
– Love as a force for social transformation

IISC was founded in 1993 by Interaction Associates (IA) as an expression of its commitment to social change and as a way of bringing its collaborative methodologies into the social sector.
Listen to an excerpt from Ceasar McDowell’s ENGAGEVirginia talk from November 2013.