This month marks a year that Deven, Tiffany, and I have been asking ourselves, and you, questions about how to be more human in this work of evaluation. The reflections you’ve shared and the conversations we’ve had with our podcast guests have been among the most valuable moments of this last/lost year. The discussion has been rich, the feedback positive, the connections palpable. Yet, I find myself frustrated by the slow pace of change, by our collective willingness to carry on with business as usual. I know that I’m likely languishing, but I was also struck by the comments my good friend Jara shared in response to my voicing this frustration. She said:
“The evaluation you do is limited and limiting.”
It was a moment of truth and clarity, I know in my gut she’s right. As last month’s guest, Dr. Ayesha Boyce, shared – incorporating equity and inclusion (our shared humanity!) into evaluation can be challenging. I hear from so many evaluators who are trying to “do the right thing” by embracing anti-racism, using culturally responsive methods, and beginning to have conversations with clients about power dynamics. What I also hear is frustration at the unwillingness of clients to engage, the problems with incrementalism, and questions about who and what our work is really in service of.
And it’s from this place of frustration that I know that we aren’t starting in the right place. Jara regularly reminds me that who we are in the work matters and that any good work begins with relationship; relationship to self, relationship to others, relationship to the work, relationship to the earth. First, I must feel and figure out how to be with myself differently in order to be with others differently.
So I am asking myself — Am I willing to make the changes needed to move into the right relationship at all of these levels? Am I willing to slow down enough to do so? What am I willing to give up to move into alignment?
A year into radically reimagining what it means to be my full human self at work, I’m less certain of the answers, but more confident I am asking the right questions.