Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

community organzing 101

Margaret Wheately rocks on many levels. Here is a summary of her 10 principles for creating healthy communities; or get it from the horses mouth on you tube (search for Margaret Wheately; each principle is a short video).

1. People support what they create. The only way to create ownership is to involve people in creating the project; everybody has to feel that they've had a voice at some point in the process. People do what they feel engaged with, so they need feel involved in some aspect of creation of the work.

2. People act responsibly when they care. Ask yourself, "are we working on an issue that people truly care about?"

3. Conversation is the way people have always thought; we talk together in order to think well together. Its through conversation that people collectively discover shared meaning and what they care about.

4. To change the conversation, change who's in it. If the conversation is stuck, invite in new people w/different perspectives.

5. Expect leaders to come from anywhere. A leader is anyone who is willing to help b/c they've made a connection to something that needs to be fixed or changed.

6. Focusing on what is working gives us energy and creativity. Focusing on what isn't working is demoralizing. Ask, "what's possible here, and who cares?" Then bring in the people who really do have a stake in the issue. This releases our creative energy. When we focus on what's right, possible, and what we can do, the problems fix themselves.

7. The wisdom resides within us--we have the solutions we need. When people are in regular, reflective communication w/trusted people, the answers come out. Ask, "do we look inside our community to find the answers there?"

8. Everything is a failure in the middle. When things are falling apart, its an opportunity to learn and re-organize: get together, think together and come up with good solutions. Ask, "what do we do when things are falling apart?"

9. Humans can handle anything as long as we're together. Its the quality of our relationships that gets us through, and we need to learn to take relationships seriously.

10. We need to be together in a spirit of generosity, forgiveness and love. When things go wrong, we should know that the community will help. We each have to be accountable for the negative things we say about each other. Stop the blame and start trusting and being kind to each other.

"we were together i forget the rest"