Experiences with training and articulating the value to community?

Matt Colombo
Matt Colombo
@matt-colombo
3 weeks ago
4 posts

Hello, All! Matt here from Co-operate WNC: A Regional Mutual Aid Initiative. I am hoping to attend this training at the ABCD Institute in September, along with a couple of colleagues. Has anyone attended this training in the past and what was your experience like?

I am a volunteer for Co-operate WNC and we do not have a travel/training/extramural budget, so we are going to try to crowdfund this from our small but growing network - mutual aid in action! I want to articulate clearly the value of traveling to this training to our broader community in Western North Carolina. For some context about my own experience and why we feel the training is valuable, I have been trained as a facilitator and facilitated meetings in government organizations. We are hoping to support communities in our region using an ABCD approach. All of my work with ABCD so far has been with reading theory and reports from other communities, and thinking through examples. I've been in discussion with one community in our region that has used Participatory Action Research, another method of community engagement/organizing/development.


Any suggestions to articulate the value of the training and any reviews of the training you could provide would be very helpful! Also feel free to message me privately.

Thank you!

Mac Johnson
Mac Johnson
@mac-johnson
2 weeks ago
13 posts

Hi Matt,

I'm from Eastern NC originally (Greenville, Laurinburg) and now living near Cincinnati. I'm interested in Cooperate WNC efforts, in new economy / resilience.

In Cincy I attended ABCD trainings of Community Building Institute (CBI) at Xavier University (functioning as an anchor institution), etc.  Parallel to DePaul Univ., XU CBI workshops served citizens by conversationally facilitating early-stage organizing of their ABCD projects, over multiple weekends.

I think "appreciative inquiry" (AI) into fruitful projects and related ABCD training, is a good to evaluate trainings. ABCD is related to AI by appreciating and connecting peoples gifts. How citizens & leaders diversely "frame ideas" in ABCD conversations is interesting to me.

AI and framing are evidenced in this TEDTalk "My Town in Transition: Rob Hopkins at TEDxExeter" (video 0:18:17). Here Totnes UK participants in "Transition Streets" express high satisfaction in community-building terms (whereas organizers frame first from a sustainability, cutting-carbon perceptive, etc.). Note the "Word Cloud" evaluation.

See Totnes ABCD also in "Start Something Together" (video 0:06:46), and hear its grassroots participants. These reflect ABCD "motivations to act" (link: Mike Green's, "ABCD In Action" DVD excerpt).  What started as energy-bill reduction conversations (Keeping Totnes warm, convening/trainings), then "went way beyond..." 

Trainers value the range of expressions of these fruitful and inter-sectional initiatives, while themselves appreciating especially sustainability metrics.

I think that Public Narratives by Trainers, such as these, sharpened in local practice, then can be valuable as developed, distributed assets, like these TED Talks. Without being able to "review" the 2-day the DePaul event, I think that good rhizomatic aims of ours should be to: 1) connect them to this training network, and, 2) encourage them also to document and reflect on projects in useful / sharable ways. Then, like this, we can better learn in networks. Thanks!

Mac Johnson


updated by @mac-johnson: 08/02/19 01:03:36PM
Matt Colombo
Matt Colombo
@matt-colombo
6 days ago
4 posts

Hi, Mac! Thank you so much for taking the time to thoughtfully respond to my question, and provide so many other avenues to explore! Question about the training that you took at Xavier - how did the CBI help you facilitate the early-stage organization of your project? How would you/did you articulate the value of that training to yourself, your community, those that supported you in attending the training?

Thanks!

Matt

Mac Johnson
Mac Johnson
@mac-johnson
6 days ago
13 posts

Hi Matt,

I served to develop projects, as a Catholic Charities agency-based Community- and "Parish-Social-Ministry-" organizer.

EXAMPLE:  In this "ABCD case" I met a volunteer parishioner, enrolled in Cincinnati's Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, of which I'm a graduate (MA in Religion).  This includes a required, cap-stone Ministry Project (part of her curriculum). In conversation she clarified her ABCD "motivation to act."  She wanted to organize "Mentor Moms," from parishes.

The result was a Team of Mentor Mom parish volunteers (middle-income, suburban mothers) who combined their gifts in the course of trainings, starting with an ABCD weekend at Xavier for Teams. They were attracted to worked in concert with a maternity-clinic-nurse and inner-city parish staff minister doing "Emergency Assistance (EA)" work (food pantry, etc.).

Connected by the clinician, Mentor Moms worked, in Northern Kentucky, with the parish EA staff and expecting often-single low-income mothers.  ABCD-trained Mentors also were oriented as a Team, for their well-defined Mentor-Mom volunteer-role, with Junior League of nearby Cincinnati, in their Mentor Mom orientation-program.

Mentor Mom's structured, collaborative role was to "accompany" low-income mothers during pregnancy and afterwards. These low-income mothers and their children, in poor neighborhoods, were isolated and vulnerable.  For example, public financial-assistance was low, housing relatively expensive and the nearby women & children's homeless-shelter (part of Catholic Charities) was perpetually full. 

The Clinic nurse inquired of her clients, and low-income women responded positively. These women often lived near the family- health clinic and inner-city Catholic parish.  Mentor Moms visited, kept in touch by phone, celebrated family events (e.g., Baby showers, birthday parties of older siblings at the parish; Parish-supplied ice cream was a crucial asset!), problem-solved and reflected together. 

ABCD-trained Mentor Moms leveraged their parish communities for solidarity -- very effectively -- to support specific needs, in a  "twinning relationship" with the inner-city emergency-assistance parish-ministry. This is internally-focused "Targeted Asset Mapping" (see attached 2p ABCD Summary description).  Mentor Moms leveraged their social capital for (suburban) parish solidarity actions.

ABCD-trained Mentor Moms also led an "appreciative inquiry" event -- during regularly-scheduled community free-roller-skating at the inner-city parish.  This "Visionary asset mapping" experience connected the "gifts of individuals" with interested and gifted inner-city neighbors (e.g., for a karate class for other parent's older children).

The staffed clinic, inner-city parish, suburban parishes and my Catholic Charities agency served as needed ABCD "vehicles," for trained volunteers, motivated-to-act.

CBI's ABCD-training, at Xavier (Cincinnati's Jesuit University), provided the asset-based paradigm and citizen discussion-process.  Mentor Moms were parents:  with experience-based gifts, in social-capital-rich parishes, within an adjudicatory network with stated ideals to frame this initiative.  With a structured Mentor Mom role, in faith, they served as "people for others" and to ABCD-build "communities of salt and light."

For example, they helped engage groups of parishioners in field-trip encounter experiences -- appreciative inquiry -- with the inner-city parish EA program and homeless shelter.  This resulted in the renewing mobilization of gifts of individuals, resources of their associations and assets of their institutions (e.g., parishes).  (ABCD's critique of over-professionalization, theologically, is faith-community-damaging clericalism.)

Such gift-mobilizing pastoral ministry is virtually synonymous with community development.  This places ABCD at a high value, in practical internally-focused projects, where leaders pick up this paradigm, while integrating professional ("clinical") services.

ABCD can "bridge silos" in and between organizations to mobilize more of available community capacity.  Successful ABCD projects like this necessarily are collaborations, with specific characteristics (see attached 2p book reference). This mobilization-paradigm is needed in our contemporary contexts.  See:

Mac Johnson


updated by @mac-johnson: 08/15/19 09:46:42PM
Matt Colombo
Matt Colombo
@matt-colombo
2 days ago
4 posts

Hi, Mac! Thank you for sharing this project with me and the forum. Seems you are following through on your suggestion to "document and reflect on projects in useful / sharable ways!"

I see in your story how the CBI training provided tools and the ABCD framework for Mentor Moms. Your sharing of the unfolding of the process demonstrates the value of the training and the ABCD framework.

Thanks so much for taking the time. I know that there are periodic emails that go out about this forum, and hopefully this thread will be featured, as I know many are searching for detailed descriptions of how ABCD processes go!

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