Sunday, May 10, 2009

Choice-creation: the master narrative

Photo of community organizer Jim Rough

My SafeGrowth students in Ohio and in Saskatchewan are working this month to come up with SafeGrowth strategies in their respective communities. The student teams are doing some terrific project work they will report back in a month.

I've been chatting with them online lately and it strikes me that as community developers and crime prevention specialists we need much better knowledge about how to get residents working together. Just as we are not experts in lighting engineering - yet in CPTED we recommend better lighting - so too should we make recommendations about intelligent local decision-making and sensible neighborhood governance.

Getting organized, transferring skills and smart prevention strategies are all for naught if we cannot sustain them within the neighborhood. Competent and balanced neighborhood decision-making is the master narrative for safe communities in the future.

Of course it's unlikely we'll be expert in neighborhood governance very soon. Knowledge comes from educating ourselves. For example, within traditional CPTED programs community-organizing tactics are little more than a worn cliche (if they are discussed at all). So we have much to learn.

And too many disenfranchised people are simply too afraid, desperate, or worn out from the rigors of daily life to leap into active projects. But, as the previous posts on this blog show, there has been SafeGrowth success already. Clearly something works.

So where do we start?

I came across this VLOG with community organizer Jim Rough from Washington State. Jim is a famous community trainer and creator of the dynamic facilitation and choice-creation method. He teaches them around the world. He also created the neighborhood decision-making strategy called the Wisdom Council.

The year before last I interviewed Jim on his TV show about these strategies. Here are a few ideas on how we can move forward.
Click here to watch Jim Rough talk about Wisdom Councils


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