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The 1000Communities2 Proposal: Creating a Multiplier Effect of a Positive Nature

The “1000Communities2” Proposal:
Creating a Multiplier Effect of a Positive Nature

Introduction

In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a
Community Visioning Initiative that 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.

Many Difficult Challenges Ahead

We now live in very complex world. There are many difficult challenges ahead. These challenges include, but are not limited to:

a) global warming and reducing carbon emissions
b) peak oil and reducing dependence on petroleum based products
c) global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death
d) an increasing world population requiring more resources when many resources are becoming
more scarce (with a special emphasis on the increasing number of people who are consuming
resources and ecological services indiscriminately)
e) cultures of violence, greed, corruption, and overindulgence—which have become so common that many of us accept such as inevitable; which are a significant part of the current crises of confidence in financial markets; and which are in many ways slowing the restructuring of investment priorities needed to respond to an increasing number of other critical challenges.
f) a marginalization of the wisdom associated with religious, spiritual, and moral traditions

More and more people are coming to the realization that overcoming the challenges of our times will require problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before—and that there is an urgent need to restructure our economic systems and our education systems to respond to these challenges.

There has never been a time in the course of history when both the capacity to cultivate practical wisdom and the capacity to build a positive and constructive consensus were as important as they are now. Are we up to the challenge?

The “1000Communities2” Proposal ("1000CommunitiesSquared")

One suggestion which could assist in bringing many solutions to light at the local community level is a
161 page proposal by this writer titled “1000Communities2” (June, 2008) (Accessible at The IPCR Initiative website; http://ipcri.net/1000Communities2.pdf ) [Note: This writer is the founder and outreach coordinator for The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative. There are IPCR documents created in 2010 which provide more current source references, and which provide a more comprehensive summary of The IPCR Initiative; see www.ipcri.net for more details.]

The “1000Communities2” proposal advocates organizing and implementing Community Visioning Initiatives in 1000 communities (communities—or segments of rural areas, towns, or cities—with populations of 50,000 or less) around the world

1. which are time-intensive, lasting even as much as 1½ years (18 months), so as to give as much importance to developing a close-knit community as it does to

a) accumulating and integrating the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the highest percentage of people to act wisely in response to challenges identified as priority challenges
b) helping people to deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges
c) assisting with outreach, partnership formation, and development of service capacity for a significant number of already existing (or forming) organizations, businesses, institutions, and government agencies
d) helping to build a high level of consensus for specific action plans, which will help inspire additional support from people, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies with significant
resources

2. which expand on the concept of “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (created by the “Teachers Without Borders” organization) so that such local community points of entry function as information clearinghouses, meeting locations, educational centers for ongoing workshops (on a broad range of topics related to the Community Visioning Process, and building the local knowledge base), practice sites for developing “teacher-leaders”, a location for an ongoing “informal” “Community Journal”, a location for listing employment opportunities—and provide a means of responding quickly (by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise

3. and which suggest—as a way of emphasizing the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings—that communities (with the resources to do so) enter into “sister community” relationships with communities in other countries where there has been well documented calls for assistance with basic human needs.

Maximizing Citizen Participation in Solution-Oriented Activity

Well organized efforts to identify problems and brainstorm solutions are a universally recognized approach to problem solving which is commonly used in family, community, business, and government settings in every part of the world. The more comprehensive Community Visioning Initiatives (the “Vision 2000” initiative mentioned above took 5 months) carry out a series of meetings which focus on five particular areas: identifying challenges, prioritizing challenges, identifying solutions, prioritizing solutions, and creating action plans. Combined with ongoing workshops and much formal and informal educational activity, these meetings, though only a part of the Visioning Initiative, may last 4-6 months. These more comprehensive Community Visioning Initiatives require steering committees, preliminary surveys or assessments, workshops, task forces, collaboration between many organizations, government agencies, businesses, and educational institutions—and seek to build up consensus in the community for specific goals and action plans by encouraging a high level of participation by all residents.

One of the main goals of these kind of Community Visioning Initiatives is to maximize citizen participation in identifying challenges, and in solution-oriented activity.

In addition, the job fairs which come at the end of the Community Visioning Initiative process (the kind advocated by the IPCR document “1000Communities2”) provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses, organizations, institutions, government, etc.) to demonstrate their upgraded awareness—and their interest in the welfare of the community—by offering and facilitating new employment opportunities… and thus helping with a just transition from patterns of investment which in only limited ways represent solutions to prioritized challenges to patterns of investment which in many ways represent solutions to prioritized challenges.

If even a few….

Given the nature of complex societies, it is understandable that many of us would like to believe there are experts “somewhere” who can resolve the difficult challenges ahead while the rest of us are doing something else. Unfortunately, such a view does not take into account that everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets that supply the “ways of earning a living”. Thus, this writer hopes that, in the coming months and years, more and more people will come to the realization that all of us together need to work through these complex challenges—and we need to do so in a way that helps us to realize how much we need to be learning so that we can be part of the solutions… and how much we really need to be on the same side, helping each other. People from all varieties of everyday circumstances can realize the wisdom of deliberately focusing the way they spend their time, energy, and money. The result can be a deliberate increase in the “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to overcoming the local and regional specific challenges identified by residents as priority challenges. As the ancient Chinese proverb says: “Many hands make much work light.”

There are many important initiatives which are critical to overcoming the challenges of our times, but which are not quite “coming through the mist as much as they should be.” If even a few of these kind of Community Visioning Initiatives generated results similar to those achieved by the Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA) Visioning Initiative carried out in 1984 (“Vision 2000”)(see reference in first paragraph), people in all parts of the world—keenly attuned when it comes to resolving challenges which require urgent solutions at all levels of society— could be inspired to carry out similar Community Visioning Initiatives. And if many communities carried out similar initiatives, and also achieved significant results, our collective capacity to resolve the challenges of our times would surely begin to accumulate at an accelerating rate. There is much which leaders could be asking from the people who respect their leadership, both as a matter of civic duty, and as a matter of necessity; and there are many people who will be very appreciative when they find that they have an important role to play in the work ahead. Leaders should guide citizens so that they can discover how they can do their part to contribute to the greater good of the whole.

Even now, as you are reading this, truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill are being generated in a variety of ways—and in a variety of circumstances—by countless numbers of people in communities around the world. A combination of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” and “sister community” relationships can bring to light the many truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill in your community and region, and contribute much to the building of “close-knit” communities of people… 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.

[Note: In light of the urgent need to increase collaboration between diverse communities of people, anyone may access all IPCR documents (including the above mentioned 161 page “1000Communities2” proposal) for free, at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative (www.ipcri.net ). With Kind Regards, Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator The IPCR Initiative P.O. Box 163 Leesburg, Virginia 20178 (USA)]

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