Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Sharing Knowledge: Not The Way We Plan

spare change

Sharing knowledge does not always have to turn out the way we plan. Sharing knowledge for social benefit is about creating a better life on this earth that is an opportunity awaiting all of us. We must let go of old fears and insecurities that our knowledge somehow isn’t “good enough” to create change for good in this world, and make way for confidence that the knowledge each one of us has can contribute towards social benefit to make a difference on this planet.

This thought makes me stop and think deeply everyday. Just how often do we easily dismiss someone else’s knowledge that we consider not “good enough” in attempts to create “expert” or “evidence-based” knowledge?  Don’t get me wrong; evidence-based knowledge is extremely important to bring about positive change – especially when our government policymakers depend on hearing this “evidence” to make their decisions for social improvement. But we mustn’t overlook where this evidence can come from.

Our human experience is about sharing our existence on this planet together. If my daily focus is about only seeking out the “experts” or “evidence” in my little corner of this world, then I’ll miss opportunities to learn from other people, cultures, and ways of life that may unexpectedly teach me through their knowledge about how to make this world a better place. We must not forget that “experts” and “evidence” are often context-specific.

It’s interesting that most of us plan our daily lives to follow socially acceptable and professional definitions of knowledge “sources” in our own little corners of the world, as we attempt each day to make better lives for ourselves. And what about those unexpected sources of knowledge that we are often afraid to connect with – both beyond our own communities and also within our own little corners of the world?

The times in my own life when I have learned some of the most valuable knowledge that has made me a better person isn’t from my university degree or from my professional colleagues. Some of the most valuable knowledge in my life has come from connecting with and listening to the knowledge of the poor, the homeless, the “un-educated” or the “non-expert” voices that I’ve come in contact with throughout this world.  

Two examples that come to mind are speaking with a guy who hands out the free daily newspaper, and connecting with a woman who sits on a street-corner everyday begging for money:

Trevor, who hands out the newspapers everyday in sunshine, rain and cold, reminds me that each life has a story and we all have a voice.  When I stopped one day to ask how his day was going, Trevor (rather startled the first time) thanked me and said how often people just walk right by him and ignore him.  Now, whenever I pass by Trevor on my way to work, we strike up a short conversation, and I have new opportunities to connect myself to someone else’s knowledge.

Jing, an elderly woman who sits on the street corner waiting for spare change, reminds me that there are still social problems that need to be addressed – and that not all people begging for change are doing so to feed a drug habit or drinking problem. Jing’s story is an attempt to make a better life in a new country, and the failed attempt to do so. Jing doesn’t say much, as her English is limited, but she appreciates someone knowing her real story of why she sits on the corner every day having to beg for money.

I’ve often learned more about myself and how to make this world a better place by listening to these voices than to what the “experts” or “evidence” often have to say.

Each day, I try to keep myself open to this type of knowledge, and the fact that the road of life that I travel on has plenty of unplanned twists and turns and forks in the road that are learning opportunities from some of the least “expert” people I meet. These moments are knowledge opportunities for social benefit when – just for a moment – I let go of my preconceived ideas of “expert” or “evidence-based” knowledge, and listen to sources of knowledge that are good enough to listen to and learn from – to contribute to making the world a better place.

4 responses to “Sharing Knowledge: Not The Way We Plan

  1. Melanie Barwick January 26, 2013 at 11:09 am

    What you write is so important to remember in our daily lives, whoever and wherever we are. It’s about being mindful and humble, being aware of humanity. Thank you for the reminder.

    • KMbeing January 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks Melanie for your comment. It’s easy to forget about the unexpected knowledge sources, and overlook the broader, more holistic reasons that fundamentally underlie knowledge mobilization/exchange – an approach that should stem from that humility and mindfulness about our common humanity. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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