Experiences with training and articulating the value to community?

Matt Colombo
Matt Colombo
@matt-colombo
4 months ago
6 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
4 months ago
14 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
4 months ago
6 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
4 months ago
14 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.).  The result was a project build "from the inside out," from and between, two twinning Catholic communities.

Connected by the clinician, Mentor Moms worked, in Northern Kentucky, with the neighborhood 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!). Reflection together led to problem solving (e.g., Mentors' good networks connecting a quality job with a mom transitioning from public assistance). 

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" (AI) event -- during regularly-scheduled community free-roller-skating at the inner-city parish.  (ABCD Asset mapping and capacity inventories can be grouped under the umbrella of AI.) This ABCD "Visionary asset mapping" experience, facilitated by ABCD-organizing Mentor Moms, connected neighbor's "gifts of individuals" with their interested, gifted and nearby peers (e.g., ABCD connecting to "Teachables:"  for a new craft class for young children; and parents a karate class for other parent's older children, in the parish building).

ABCD quote howardthurman.png

The staffed clinic, inner-city parish, suburban parishes and my Catholic Charities agency served as needed ABCD "vehicles," for the trained volunteers, motivated-to-act. The parish, as ABCD vehicle, engaged its associating neighbors, with one another, first during roller skating. The "assets of an institution" (skating rink, etc.) thus was leveraged with skaters (together, an ABCD "resource of association") to connect individual gifts.

Parish-level pastoral ministry is substantially synonymic with community building (e.g., in "stewardship" gift-mobilizing the "time," "talent" and "treasure" of members). Be that as it may, pastoral-community leaders often labor under the same colonized over-professionalization (McKnight) as social agencies. Theologically described in the book Clericalism: The Death of Priesthood, inherited "scripts" in clerical culture foster underlying attitudes which preserve destructive aspects of social relationships. Alternatively, pastoral workers "thinking like organizers" can prophetically-practice some horizontalism to call forth gifts of all to do the work of God's love in the world.

(In a disaster-relief context, abundant gift mobilizing engaging congregation assets in our era of climate change, is demonstrated the recorded 1-hour video webinar: "Self Organized Leadership in Networks:  Lessons from Occupy Sandy and the People’s Climate March."  See also:  "Occupy Sandy Field Orientation," a 12p PDF for participants, to catalyze mutual aid akin to ABCD-engagement.)

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., adjudicatory-networked parishes, agencies). 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 systems, 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:

"God distributed gifts in such a way that no one has all of them, because God wanted to make us dependent on one another."

St. Catherine of Siena


updated by @mac-johnson: 10/14/19 12:26:24PM
Matt Colombo
Matt Colombo
@matt-colombo
4 months ago
6 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!

Deb Wisniewski
Deb Wisniewski
@deb-wisniewski
3 months ago
134 posts

Hi Mac - Interesting discussion. I’m interested in this Mentor Mom program. Can you tell me how the low-income moms were able to contribute their own gifts to the program/community? Was it just the middle income, suburban moms who were able to contribute their gifts? If so, it seems a bit one-directional, with the middle income moms giving their time/expertise/support/etc to the low-income moms.... A great start and I’d would like to find ways for the low-income moms to be contributing as well. I may be missing something here though. I wasn’t sure how the appreciative inquiry piece fit in. 

Matt - the training you mentioned is through the ABCD Institute located at DePaul. It’s only over the last year that they’ve started offered get a sort of regular series of learning opportunities. I don’t have experience with the specific upcoming training although I’m familiar with the trainers and they’re great.

 

Dee Brooks
Dee Brooks
@dee-brooks
2 months ago
87 posts

Hi Matt,

What a great thread - thanks for all your wonderful input, too, Mac!

The workshops we offer are underpinned by our desire to build capacity efficiently and effectively and GET OUT OF THE WAY! We often host 2 day ABCD training that incorporates half a day of co-designing a community conversation which participants then facilitate the very next day whilst their new skills are fresh!

There's examples in the blogs on our website or you can also find some stories of practice and application of tools in our 78 page guidebook here: http://jeder.com.au/art-of-participatory-community-building/

Great conversation and I'll share it over to the FB group now!

Regards,

Dee...

Matt Colombo
Matt Colombo
@matt-colombo
2 months ago
6 posts

Deb - thank you for your endorsement of the trainers!

Dee - are you referring to training by the Jeder Institute or the ABCD Institute? Jeder's Guidebook is very comprehensive and thank you for offering that to the world!

Tags