My visualization of what shared power looks like is a scale that works by balancing the masses on two platforms. This is a metaphor I’m fond of and use often in my teaching. It’s appropriate here because, in order to balance the scale, mass may be added or taken away from either platform. I would compare this functioning to consensus-building in the design of effective community-engaged research. The community partner, on one side, brings certain ideas and expectations to the table, as does the researcher on the other side. Both need to be flexible and add or take away mass on their respective platform so that the project balances out. Also keep in mind that mass—here representing power—equals volume times density. The community partner and researcher bring different materials to place on their platforms, reflecting the diversity of their investments in the collaboration, yet power can remain equal.
About the author
Dr. Matthew James Vechinski is an associate professor in the Department of Focused Inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University. His teaching draws on his interest in process-based writing instruction, communication design, and service-learning. His research centers on authors’ relationships with editors and publishers, with a particular focus on writers of short fiction for American periodicals as well as postmodern and contemporary experimental novelists. He has also written on design, collecting, and social media.