Even as communities are coming together to identify shared concerns and goals, for too many communities these actions are primarily motivated by compliance with external requirements. Working on shared goals is not the same as coaction, which goes further than participating in community planning, and even sharing resources. It requires having the individual, institutional and political will to change both the system and how you carry out business in your corner of that system.
Coaction Institute is creating a space for community health advocates to learn together and from each other to overcome current obstacles to authentic coaction. As Coaction Fellows, the participants study and practice proven community building strategies that enhance their own work, and will go on to serve as mentors and models for others in the community looking to overcome the problem of parallel play. The cohort begins by identifying key issues currently presenting obstacles to true coaction in their community work, from which the study circle readings are selected from the shared resource center being developed. Topics include trust, multi-culturalism, communication, power-sharing, collaborative process evaluation, and others.
As communities work towards overcoming the hurdle of parallel tunnel vision in understanding and addressing their greatest population health needs, the goal posts must keep moving further downfield to authentic coaction.