Dear Mj. Frizzell, Dr. Brain and Jon,
I strongly commend you on this new Community focus and forum….I realize that you set the agenda for the series of meetings and have been experimenting with effective formats. I was very encouraged by my experience in the second meeting, the first I was able to attend, where the Students of New College shared their research on different programs currently being offered in other communities, then they posed some very thought provoking questions. After a dynamic consultation process, group spokesmen and individuals were asked to share their insights and conclusions, both verbally and written on sticky notes. These were to be collected, compiled and emailed to the participants. I did wonder why that part of the process of engagement with the community was not followed up on.
Bay to Bay Services, also, is trying to effectively engage the public in such a consultation, introducing some of it's own vision and process proposals into the discussion. It is BtBS's hope that if we can learn to work together to “crack the code” of community engagement in the Healing Homelessness process, it could offer a Guide Book to help other communities find success in the power of such a United Effort to identify common goals and each individual’s, stake holders' and other organizations' ways of using their talents and services to cooperate and collaborate in such an effort to Heal Homelessness.
Do you share such a vision of the Community Leadership Dialogues working into a Community Leadership Co-Op ? If you do, I would like to offer some thoughts toward achieving that goal.
If you are still reading, I would presume we share the same goals and you are open to considering other views on how to get to them. The views I express now, were shared by several others in attendance and by some who chose not to attend for the same reasons. This could supplement your current “de-briefing” process to learn from the past presentations and apply that knowledge to the future.
The student moderator of the January meeting and compiler of major research for her senior thesis, Addie Peteranecz, came to some fresh and profound conclusions which I would like to share, as I understand them. One of these affirms that the format used at the last meeting raises invisible, yet palpable, barriers to fresh insights and alternative solutions to the problems trying to be resolved. The research showed that when such dialogues are hosted, formatted and moderated by any of the “stake holders,” it cannot help but carry an undue influence over Community perspective, thought processes and action… It also creates an unspoken divide between the “validity” of thoughts expressed by “the informed,” or “experts,” while implying less validity for the fresh ideas or questions arising from the community. It seems to me that while it is helpful to present local and national examples of stake-holder agenda’s and goals, the meetings and consultation needs to be driven and moderated by a non-stake holder that can present those examples and research information impartially. Also, the whole “World Cafe” format is very effective in encouraging fresh perspectives and insights that are then compiled and made available to all participants and interested parties. These form the consensus of thought which, in turn, develop the foundations for each successive consultation, and is more likely to lead to positive and proactive action plans.
I believe that the most effective resolutions must come from input and unity, or consensus, of the widest diversity of segments of the community. With all these elements supporting one common over-riding goal and agenda, each can realize their niche in the cooperation and collaboration of their talent or service toward that common agenda. It also offers and opportunities of individual program directors, learning from the combined wisdom of the community, to potentially modify some aspects of their own programs to better support the common vision. So, building on your brilliant beginnings and realizing that the last meeting missed the objective and momentum of our common goal to develop the Community Leadership “Dialogues” into a positive and proactive Community Leadership “Co-Op,” I hope you will exhibit the flexibility to modify subsequent meetings as they continue to shed light on the process. May I make some recommendations for consideration ?
1. Key segments of the public community who are currently under represented need to be identified and proactively invited. They include the downtown business association, hardware, discount and department stores, construction companies, ACLU representative, condo and facility owners and residents, city/county councilmen and more stake holders. They would be asked to choose 1-2 representatives in respect to available seating. If more come than seating can accommodate, then overrepresented groups will be asked to choose 1-2 representatives to be seated while extras are allowed to attend on a “standing room only” basis.
2. Ask the students to compile the insights and suggestions that came from the first two Community dialogues, and have them emailed to all invited and/or signed in participants as a “news letter” report.
3. Re-address the Moral Imperative segment, incorporating the “rights and responsibilities” segment as one pro-active dialogue, following the suggested format of student presentation of relevant research followed by the World Cafe consultation format.
4. Ask the student presenters to briefly summarize the accumulated consensus of previous topics covered as “old business” before presentations and consultation on the new topic of discussion.
5. Modify upcoming topics as: Appropriate Graduated Housing Options for different segments of the homeless population.
Income and Training Options for Social and Economic Mobility.
Policy Implications for Community Co-Opting services
Community Engagement to generate Interest, Donations and Volunteers
I sincerely hope this has been helpful as a follow up to the wonderful process you have initiated, potentially raising it to levels of community engagement that were not previously imagined. I have enjoyed my association with you and look forward to many more opportunities to collaborate with you. I have attached the Bay to Bay Services view of the Moral Imperative of Community Development, if you are interested.
Thank you, I sincerely remain at the service of Humane Community Development,
Jaclyn Tredway, BaytoBayServices.org