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In this paper, we share findings from Family Leadership Design Collaborative’s (FLDC) multi-year work, which comprised 10 co-design collaboratives engaged in historicizing their experiences and imagining transformative possibilities for education together. Using knowledge and interaction analysis (e.g., diSessa, Levin, & Brown, 2015) we examined collaboratives’ conceptual ecologies (Kelly & Green, 1998) to develop an empirical typology of collaboratives' theories of change (Tuck & Yang, 2018), or the broader aims and the who, what and how of their change-making conversations in community design circles, a first step of solidarity-driven codesign (Ishimaru et al., 2018). Across a diverse range of geographically, linguistically, and racially diverse families and communities, we intentionally rooted the design conversation in an initial set of principles in order to move beyond status quo problem-solving and open social dreaming spaces towards collective changemaking. We found: 1) a conceptual ecology of multiple theories of change both across contexts and within a given context; 2) systems-centric theories of change (premised on family deficiencies or institutional pragmatics) that constrained the dreaming of transformative possibilities; and 3) the increase of more expansive and transformative theories of change as the engagement was sustained and nurtured over time. We argue that sustained engagements that build politicized trust and the ability to grapple with tensions can deepen relational theorizing and enable groups to shape imaginative possibilities for pursuing and realizing change.
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