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"None of us are home until all of us are home." This is the motto of the not-for-profit organization Project H.O.M.E. (Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education). The words, expressing the organization's commitment to solidarity in struggle, are permanently inscribed in a beautiful stone mosaic just inside the golden doors at the entrance of 1515 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, one of Project H.O.M.E.'s 11 residential facilities for formerly homeless men and women and the site of the outreach program and many of the administrative offices. The motto serves as a reminder that the true struggle is to end homelessness and as a clarion call to bring all of us, all of humanity, home. This ethnography explores the process of shared leadership at Project H.O.M.E. We consider how leadership emerges through struggle and results in transformations, individual as well as social, in the context of personal struggles for recovery and family reunification, collective struggles for fair housing and equality, and administrative struggles to stay true to Project H.O.M.E.'s vision and pursue appropriate avenues for organizational growth. The information and analysis in this ethnography is based on a yearlong (July 2003 to October 2004) participatory study. In keeping with the aims of the Leadership for a Changing World program, the ethnographers, Kathleen Hall and Jaskiran Dhillon, together with documentary photographer Harvey Finkle and Project H.O.M.E.’s Director of Education and Public Policy, Laura Weinbaum, worked with members of the Project H.O.M.E. community to explore how leadership is understood, experienced, and enacted in everyday practice. Our research took an appreciative inquiry stance, in which we, as researchers, participated with members of the Project H.O.M.E. community to explore and learn lessons from the meanings they gave to their leadership work. Therefore, our account weaves their stories together with an analytic thread that illuminates the lessons the stories provide. For more information on Project H.O.M.E., go to www.projecthome.org. For information on the photographs, go to www.harveyfinkle.org.
Date Posted: 17 May 2007