The Importance of Building Community to Create Change with Kim Hunt

How do you facilitate collective liberation when so much of activism focuses on special interests? What steps help ensure that these initiatives actually jumpstart real change?

Kim Hunt is a devoted activist, storyteller, and the executive director of Pride Action Tank, a project of AIDS Foundation Chicago. In her long, varied career in urban planning, public policy, and activism, Kim has learned how to help maximize the incredible potential of a community’s diverse set of members when they team up with government institutions, organizations, and each other to create widespread social change.

An integration of planning and policy

A desire to learn people’s stories and co-create authentic changes and improvements in communities took Kim on a circuitous route through two master’s degrees—and ultimately careers—in urban planning and public policy. She has always aspired to facilitate spaces where people can feel comfortable bringing their lived experiences to the decision- and change-making table.

The need for many unique voices

Kim’s decades of experience with community forums taught her that achieving this kind of change requires an iterative process, and the integrity of the goals and the people pursuing them is paramount. The groups upon which this social or community change falls are often composed of community members, many of whom are skeptical or downright distrustful of government institutions and their representatives. 

Kim discovered how vital it is that the facilitators of these groups bring humility to the process and recognize that everyone around the table has a role to play in co-creating these spaces for change—those conversations will only flourish when there’s a willingness to meet every stakeholder where they are at. Kim knows that showing collaborators she’s as invested as they are goes a long way toward building trust and having those meaningful dialogues.

Comfortable collaboration starts with safe spaces

Every community care worker knows the importance of creating spaces that people want to be a part of, and this is no different when collaboration and effective change is the goal. Kim points out that this calls for providing an authentic experience and incorporating everyone’s learned experiences as much as it does offering often-overlooked essentials like childcare, transportation, and snacks.  

Kim is a skilled facilitator who finds the best way to bring community members together with policymakers, researchers, and service providers in a space that feels welcoming and comfortable to all involved. She stresses that these initiatives need the human component to succeed. 

“We can’t connect if we’re not in spaces together, as equals.”

On this week’s episode of the Care Work podcast, Kim Hunt’s eclectic story offers so much insightful advice. If you want to start or continue breaking down barriers in your own communities of care, be sure to listen in as Alida and Kim explore the nuanced and vitally important topic of making room for everyone at the table.

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