You can’t get the results you want in community without the broader community supporting your efforts directly and in uncoordinated but complementary ways. This means placing a value not only one expert knowledge but public knowledge. We show you how to build public knowledge by engaging people in your community, asking different questions and then using what your learn in very deliberate ways to spur action.
Strategies that Fit the Community
Why do expert developed strategies and best practices seem to work in one community but fall flat in others? It’s a matter of fit. Our approach helps you understand the capacity of your community through a framework we developed called Community Rhythms: The Five Stages of Community Life. Each stage has has implications for how you structure programs and strategies so you can get the maximum results and at the same time, advance your community from one stage to another so you can create even greater change.
A Sustainable Enabling Environment
We have identified nine factors, or ingredients, that make communities work well. Together, we call these Public Capital. These include different layers of leadership in a community, norms for interaction, the presence of multiple groups that span boundaries and bring people together, conscious community conversation, and networks for learning and innovation. We show you how to create these conditions in an intentional and deliberate way as you are addressing other challenges. The extent to which these factors exist in the community has a large effect on the ability to bring people together to solve problems.
A Focus on Impact and Belief
Data is important, and measuring progress and results matters. What is equally important but often overlooked is belief. Belief is that intangible factor that prompts and prods people to step forward and engage; makes people willing to join with others; and connects people’s self-interests with others’ and, at times, transcends them. Our approach helps you understand how to go about your work in a way that helps engender belief in people, which leads to more action and accelerated impact.
Our work has shown that the stories we tell about our community can have a direct impact on people's mindsets, attitudes, behaviors, and actions. It affects their sense of possibility. The ability to make progress solving problems in a community can often hinge on the narrative. Yet narratives are often ignored in our efforts to create change. Our approach will help you learn how to create authentic, “can-do” narratives that emerge over time, that ring true to people and give people a sense that the community is on a new trajectory.