Stakeholder Engagement/An Introduction to Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability
I have recently (August, 2013) created a new website: Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability (at www.cpcsc.info ).
The new website consolidates four websites (which have been archived), and thus includes “homebases” for The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative, Community Visioning Initiatives Clearinghouse, Community Teaching and Learning Centers Clearinghouse, and my Collected Writings.
I am introducing this new website with a Three Part Series, which consists of the following documents:
“A List of Ten Critical Challenges” (Part 1) (5 pages)
“A Constellation of Initiatives Approach to Overcoming the Ten Critical Challenges” (Part 2) (9 pages)
“The Treasured Wisdom of Religious, Spiritual, and Moral Traditions—is it is the ‘tool box’?” (Part 3) (27 pages)
All 3 documents in the series (and a 5 page intro to the series) are accessible at http://cpcsc.info/about-this-website/
Reasons for working in this topic, project or business:
I have had access to many special resources which have lead me to a view of the challenges ahead as unprecedented, and thus requiring problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before. There is a small minority of people who understand that stakeholder engagement processes (such as Community Visioning Initiatives and Community Teaching and Learning Centers) can be created which citizens from every variety of circumstances can trust, and believe in… (i.e. trust and believe that such processes will make best use of the knowledge and skills each person has to contribute)…. But what about the other 6.8 billion people?
I have been inspired by spiritual teachings from many traditions to contribute what I can to the greater good.
Root causes of the problems in this field and main barriers:
Some of the challenges of our times are at the very core of the difficulty of being human beings, and are challenges which people have faced since the beginning of time (Ex: “They may form negative stereotypes and attribute moral depravity or other negative characteristics to those who violate their cultural expectations, while they ignore their own vices and foibles, perceiving their own group to be entirely virtuous.”)
Some of the challenges are circumstantial: during times when there is much prosperity many people may not recognize these fields of activity as problematic (Ex: Advertising).
And some of the challenges may be considered the result of a kind of spiritual sickness: people with clear opportunities for walking on a Great Road are instead “greatly delighting in tortuous paths”….
“Were I to have the least bit of knowledge, in walking on a Great Road,
it’s only going astray that I would fear.
The Great Way is very level;
But people greatly delight in tortuous paths.”
[From Chapter 53 of “Te-Tao Ching” (by Lao Tzu) (possibly 6th Century B.C.E.) Translation by Robert G. Hendricks]
What is needed to overcome barriers to implement solutions:
We have the resources to resolve the challenges of our times—resources such as the treasured wisdom of religious, spiritual, and moral traditions, and stakeholder engagement/collaborative problem solving processes. And such resources can help us make best use of all the skills and knowledge each one of us has… but the application of such resources will inevitably require unprecedented change [Ex: “The satisfaction of one's physical needs must come at a certain point to a dead stop before it degenerates into physical decadence.” (Mahatma Gandhi)].
Probably one of the most serious barriers is the tendency of ordinary citizens to think in terms of influencing people in power--instead of understanding the accumulative importance of activities in the everyday circumstances of community life.
Consider the following observations:
The investments of time, energy, and money that each of us make in our everyday circumstances becomes the larger economy.
We will need to make best use of the knowledge and skills each person has to contribute to overcome the challenges ahead.
People who are not sufficiently informed about critical issues are everywhere, and they are investing their time, energy, and money—voting—all the time.
There is a small minority of people who understand that stakeholder engagement processes can be created which citizens from every variety of circumstances can trust, and believe in… (i.e. trust and believe that such processes will make best use of the knowledge and skills each person has to contribute)…. But what about the other 6.8 billion people?
Specific needs and/or support requests:
Probably the most helpful support which could be provided to the "Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability" initiative, in its current start-up phase, are:
1) Constructive comments and suggestions on the current set of outreach/educational materials so that the serious nature of the challenge assessment and underappreciated potential of the solutions can be better appreciated
2) Suggestions of people who might be appropriate as advisors for a Board of Advisors
If the outreach/educational materials were equal to the nature of the ideas, I believe the "constellations of initiatives" approach to collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding could be replicated in a variety of ways, and many "multiplier effects of a positive nature" created.
Suggested best local solution for this topic:
The "Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainbility" initiative advocates for:
a) a combination of preliminary surveys to 150 local leaders (as preparation for Community Visioning Initiatives)
b) time-intensive Community Visioning Initiatives supported by many “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (offering workshops suggested by the preliminary surveys)
c) and “sister community” relationships
--as a starting point for accelerating solution-oriented activity, and creating more “close-knit” communities…communities with a healthy appreciation for each others strengths, communities with a well-developed capacity to resolve even the most difficult challenges—and communities which demonstrate a high level of compassion for their fellow human beings.
Community Visioning Initiatives can be described as a series of community meetings designed to facilitate the process of brainstorming ideas, organizing the ideas into goals, prioritizing the goals, and identifying doable steps towards those goals. One of the main goals of Community Visioning Initiatives is to maximize citizen participation in identifying challenges, and in solution-oriented activity. [Note: For a detailed look at the kind of Community Visioning Initiatives I advocate for, see “A 15 Step Outline for a Community Visioning Initiative” (28 pages) (2008).]
My interest in Community Visioning Initiatives was inspired instantly when, in 1994, I watched a documentary titled “Chattanooga: A Community With A Vision” (13 minutes). The video documents two very successful Community Visioning Initiatives organized by the non-profit organization
Chattanooga Venture (Chattanooga, Tennessee USA)—one in 1984, and a follow-up in 1993. The 1984 Chattanooga Community Visioning Project (“Vision 2000”), attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars. For more about Community Visioning Initiatives, see “The Potential of Community Visioning Initiatives (in 500 words)”.]
Community Teaching and Learning Centers have the potential to be
1) a multi-purpose support center for implementing Community Visioning Initiatives
2) a neighborhood meeting place and workshop center and
3) a critical part of a low cost lifelong learning education system (which would include questionnaires and surveys, neighborhood learning centers and neighborhood learning networks, and Community Visioning Initiatives).
Creating the knowledge base and skill sets necessary to resolve the challenges of our times will require encouraging as much formal and informal meetings as possible between neighbors—and people living in the same local community. Creating many Community Teaching and Learning Centers can provide places—in local neighborhoods—for discussion, information sharing, mutual support and encouragement, fellowship and friendship—so that the exchanging of information and resources will also include further development of the kind of close-knit communities described above (in paragraph 1 on this page). [For more about Community Teaching and Learning Centers, see “The Potential of Community Teaching and Learning Centers (in 500 words)”.]
I am hoping that this Three Part Series—and the www.cpcsc.info website—might generate some discussion among instructors, students, practitioners, etc which would raise the quality of ideas, discussion, and application in many topic areas including: critical challenges assessment; preliminary survey questionnaire design; stakeholder engagement; low cost lifelong learning systems; community service components of local news media; community economics/local sustainability business networks; community revolving loans/microfinance; low impact transport systems; workforce development; food autonomy, food security, food sovereignty; land use reform; water supply and sewage treatment; recycling, composting, and cradle to cradle manufacturing; inspiring role models/right livelihood; mentoring and apprenticeships; local currency; sister community relationships; re-evaluating our moral compasses; and peacebuilding and non-violent conflict resolution.
To facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices –and in addition to the Community Visioning Initiatives Clearinghouse (see http://cpcsc.info/community-visioning-initiatives-clearinghouse/ ) and the Community Teaching and Learning Centers Clearinghouse (see http://cpcsc.info/ctlc-clearinghouse/ ) ideas mentioned above—the “Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability” website also offers two Discussion Forums:
1) “Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability” Discussion Forum—a starting point for discussing the webpage topics which make up the website, and whether or not they contribute to a definition of Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability
2) “Neighborhood Learning Center Workshop Content “ Discussion Forum—a starting point for created to explore what workshop content at neighborhood learning centers might look like if such learning centers were going to be support centers for a Community Visioning Initiative… the need for a Community Visioning Initiative grew out of responses from 150 key leaders to preliminary surveys… and a significant majority of the key leaders identified more than 5 of the ten critical challenges in “A List of Ten Critical Challenges”.
In addition, preliminary surveys in preparation for Community Visioning Initiatives, the actual implementation of Community Visioning Initiatives, and affordable and accessible education in support of Community Visioning Initiatives (at “Community Teaching and Learning Centers”) can result in apprenticeships, multi-disciplinary experiential learning, volunteer opportunities, and training in key fields of activity— with many employment options in the future (questionnaire response compilation and analysis, community center resource coordinators, workshop facilitators, community visioning/stakeholder engagement facilitators, event planning, neighborhood learning network coordinators, etc). Even further, the job fairs, which come at the end of the Community Visioning Initiative process provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses, organizations, institutions, government, etc) to create and offer new employment opportunities.
There is much that can be done to generate goodwill and promote peace that has not yet been done.
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