This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.


It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.


It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Governance by the Community or Not - Getting with or past City Hall

Yesterday's post took a second look at the concept of community governance in which a community could potentially govern itself without handing over major influence of their collective lives for four years to a city council.  This is taking the perspective to its most extreme.  In practice, communities would likely maintain some form of city government within a city hall.  What it points out is that anyone, whether through a civic organization or just getting together a group of friends, could arrange for community meetings to allow people through a deliberative decision making process to have their say on matters affecting their community.  There are a number of organizations that can assist with this as can be found in the Community Governance.  This is not to discount the challenges in doing so but it is not necessary to get permission from an institutionalized form of government power.

Taking a decision process that has substantial affect on our communities out of an arena of adversarial political competition and instead using organizations such as The World Cafe Community to create and experience deep and meaningful conversations about those things that really matter or using AmericaSpeaks to create an opportunity to have a strong voice in public decision-making on issues affecting our communities is achievable.

If such a community meeting were put together by some concerned citizens, it could be with the sponsorship of city hall.  Often times this happens through such efforts as strategic plans or economic development studies.  Unfortunately because direct deliberative democracy is not the norm there is a flurry of activity for a short time then these plans and studies often end up on the shelf without follow up and without any substantial changes being made. It could also be done in parallel or independent of city hall.  Any group organizing community meetings and wishing to maintain independence from city hall for its own reasons could still upon completion present its finding to the public from the city hall dias. Finally, such an effort could be against an entrenched city hall culture.  Community paradigms are not intended as a tactic to use for the benefit of one particular politician against another.  Rather it is designed to make a significant transformation in a community which has devolved into a culture of entrenched political and economic power that is no longer truly serving the needs of the community.

The challenges that need to be faced under these three scenarios become increasingly greater depending upon the openness of city hall, both in establishing the changes and implementing them.  Success under each scenario presumes that the community group will take a large role in the governance of the community.  Idealistically, at some point the divisions between city hall and community based governance effectively disappears.  Only idealistically though because there are too many problems communities with which have to deal and too many opposing interests even if city hall is not entrenched and in opposition.

There is a difference though between governance and government.  New community paradigms does not assume that people will take turns being the city planner or a city council member for a day.  It does work under the premise that the relationships with community leaders and city employees (maybe better would be community based employees) need to change and become different. How community needs are met and community standards enforced would also likely be different.  How to make this would work is another challenge for new community paradigms.

This moves from the concept of 'governance through community' and using deliberative democracy to decide the future path of a community to the concept of 'governance by community' and acting as a community working to build that path.  'Governance by community' under new community paradigms has not been addressed yet as it is more difficult to convey in concrete terms and it took time to build on the concept.

Community governance at this point stops taking a potential advisory role whether requested or not by city hall and moving from deliberation to implementation, from strategy to tactics.

The concept of 'governance by the community' fully realized is related to the concepts found under People’s Governance (wiki page) which offers resources for direct democratic participation but usually in opposition to an unresponsive political power.  Its also relates to its applications in specific areas of public concern such as participatory budgeting (a concept which needs to be examined further by this blog in the future) which happens most often with communities that have the political leadership that understands the benefit of inclusion by the community.

It can also relate philosophically with the concept of Civil Society (wiki page) as it recognizes and differentiates those aspects of society or community that do not have to be dependent upon institutional forms of government.  The blog posts Community paradigms as a set of community relations and Civil society as a platform for new community paradigms provide some discussion of this perspective.

Any group or organization reaching this point in the creation of new community paradigms should take a second and third look at its inclusionary efforts to make sure it was doing its best involving the entire community to avoid simply becoming another political competitor.  This might not happen at first but it should be a constant and primary goal or full community governance will never be attained.

An important resource that has been around for a while in helping to ensure this is  A Ladder of Citizen Participation by Sherry R. Arnstein.
This article is about power structures in society and how they interact. Specifically it is a guide to seeing who has power when important decisions are being made. It is quite old, but never-the-less of great value to anyone interested in issues of citizen participation. The concepts discussed in this article about 1960's America apply to any hierarchical society but are still mostly unknown, unacknowledged or ignored by many people around the world. Most distressing is that even people who have the job of representing citizens views seem largely unaware, or even dismissive of these principles. Many planners, architects, politicians, bosses, project leaders and power-holder still dress all variety of manipulations up as 'participation in the process', 'citizen consultation' and other shades of technobable.


1. Citizen participation is citizen power
1.1. Empty Refusal Versus Benefit


2. Types of participation and "nonparticipation"
2.1. Limitations of the Typology


3. Characteristics and illustration
3.1. Manipulation
3.2. Therapy
3.3. Informing
3.4. Consultation
3.5. Placation
3.6. Partnership
3.7. Delegated Power
3.8. Citizen Control

I will repeat Most distressing is that even people who have the job of representing citizens views seem largely unaware, or even dismissive of these principles. Many planners, architects, politicians, bosses, project leaders and power-holder still dress all variety of manipulations up as 'participation in the process', 'citizen consultation' and other shades of technobable.  This is the working toolbox of entrenched city hall power brokerages.  Breaking this hold over the community would be a major accomplishment for any group wishing to enstill new community paradigms within their community.  This still leaves the requirement to work on meeting the communities needs.

The Results That Matter Team, provides a more pragmatic working definition of community governance that goes beyond processes and a model for achieving that.
Community governance” refers to the processes for making all the decisions and plans that affect life in the community, whether made by public or private organizations or by citizens. For community governance to be effective, it must be about more than process, it also must be about getting things done in the community. And what gets done must make a difference. 
A Model of Effective Community Governance
The Effective Community Governance Model recognizes engaging citizens, measuring results, and getting things done as three “core community skills” that help people and organizations make decisions about what actions to take in a community and help them measure the community’s performance in achieving results. Citizen engagement invests legitimacy in those decisions and performance measures. To be effective, a community—or community serving organization—will align two or all three of them to perform the “advanced governance practices” of the governance model.
Another model of effective community governance came originally from "Challenge and Choice: Options for Local Governance in Ottawa-Carleton" Township of Goulbourn's World Wide Web Site and is made available by the Global Development Research Center or GDRC.


A Citizen's Governance Model
Characteristics of a Governance Model that is sensitive to a community's needs:
  • Accessible
    Citizens will have easy access to the elected and staff decision makers who are responsible for municipal services.
  • Accountable
    Elected and appointed officials will owe responsibility to the public.
  • Inclusive
    The community will be recognised as an important component of decision making.
  • Representative
    Citizens will be fairly and democratically represented.
  • Comprehensive 
    All municipal functions and services will be addressed; services will be delivered at a level communities believe to be appropriate; clear and logical responsibility for service-delivery will be identified; voluntary citizen participation will be acknowledged.
  • Comprehensible 
    It will be easy to understand who does what.
  • Cost-effective 
    Appropriate quality service will be delivered efficiently and in a manner that makes citizens feel they are receiving a reasonable return on their tax money.
GDRC | The Urban Governance Programme deals with governance as the science of decision-making. 
The concept of governance refers to the complex set of values, norms, processes, and institutions by which society manages its development and resolves conflict, formally and informally. It involves the state, but also the civil society at the local, national, regional and global levels.
The GDRC | The Global Development Research Center is an independent nonprofit think tank that carries out initiatives in education, research and practice, in the spheres of environment, urban, community and information, and at scales that are effective.

There are also other resources available.  Another resource found during the journey to this point is Government To You | Gov2U | which bridges the concerns of governance through community and governance by community from a global perspective.  This effort to create new community paradigms readily seeks solutions from around the entire globe that benefit the entire globe.
Our Policy and Citizen Engagement Unit works to enhance the legislative process and its outcomes by promoting representative, transparent and accountable governance. By improving the interface between citizens and decision-makers we aim at increasing civil society's input in policy-making. Because Democracy is not only about votes, it's also about deliberation.
Gov2U Facebook also provides a valuable set of technological resources that can be found on the World Wide Web.
Here's why: the internet offers virtual spaces where citizens, in absolute equality, can reclaim an active role in the political process. In essence, these virtual rooms today have the same function as the public squares in ancient times, where citizens gathered to exchange ideas and jointly agree to common solutions. So ironically, it is only through sophisticated information and communication technology that we will successfully revive the fundamental principles of democracy and citizenship, and confront the global issues of our time.
Prior to this point the concept of community governance has been viewed as a theoretical assumption and even though there is a long road to making it a reality it should be set as a guiding principle of new community paradigms.  To do that future posts will work under the premise that there is an unnamed independent organization in a community working to define and implement new community paradigms for the community in question.  The goal of this blog and related online resources will be to assist in achieving that.




Monday, August 20, 2012

Of, For, By the People and now Through the People - Community Governance Revisited

The beginning of this effort or exploration or experiment to build 'new community paradigms' started out considering the economic aspects of building a 'livable city', moved on to creating principles for establishing healthy cities for the occupants of those livable cities, in part by using the concept of 'Placemaking' as the canvas for communities to create the physical embodiment of those principles, through a process that sought to find the 'soul' of one's community and by means of Using Online Communities to encourage Direct Democracy for On-The-Ground Communities to implement a concept of Community Governance or the direct governance of a community by the members of that community.

The principle of community governance would more likely be the starting point not an end to the process of establishing new community paradigms.  This post will revisit the concept of community governance in relation to building new community paradigms and provide some new resources that can help in that effort.

True community governance is, admittedly, an idealized final state of affairs that is not currently fully realized anywhere that I know.   It is, however, not merely fantasy either.  A number of organizations, listed in both the wiki pages Governance by Community and Governance through Community have been in existence for a while, working to make it more of a reality.  

The original intention of dividing community governance into  'governance through' and 'governance by' was an attempt to differentiate between the word 'through' to convey the means of accomplishing something and the word 'by' to convey agent or agency of that accomplishment (see note below).  Perhaps a minor point but it would allow for organizing outside the influence of any existing institutionalized government structure prior to any engagement.  Some of the resources provided under community governance would fall into both categories.

Under governance through community, the community comes together (more often than four years for elections) and using principles of direct democratic deliberation makes decisions about their community.  This could be done in cooperation, in parallel or in opposition with the existing political influence of city hall.  How it implements the results of those deliberations and whether it is with or without the cooperation of city hall is a matter of governance by community.

Another way of looking at it is the difference on being either inside or outside of a system of governance.  Members of any community may already have a sense of this if they have ever attempted to fight city hall.  Community governance does not change the establishment of laws to help direct the interactions between members of a community.  Even under the most idealized form of 100% participation in direct democratic governance there would still be a difference between participating in the writing of laws as a member of the community and being subject to the power of enforcement of those laws as an individual by the authority of the community.  There would be though a greater chance in participating in the writing of the laws rather than being unilaterally subject to regulations by a City Hall with its own self perpetuating agenda.  Any potential concerns regarding rule by unprofessional masses will be addressed at a future date.

The blog post Governance through Community focused on organizations that worked primarily on the process and means of bringing members of a community together and jointly creating a democratic process. Some of the older resources were reclassified and placed under the Governance through Community wiki page.

The International Association for Public Participation or IAP2 has a wealth of resources available to assist organizations, decision makers, policy makers and practitioners to improve the quality of the public participation work. The following resources are protected by copyright by the International Association for Public Participation and are being offered here to be used only for information purposes.  The International Association for Public Participation: IAP2 Code of Ethics for Public Participation Practitioners supports and reflects IAP2's Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation. The Core Values define the expectations and aspirations of the public participation process. The Code of Ethics speaks to the actions of practitioners.

In addition, new resources were found since the writing of that post.  The Deliberative Democracy Consortium's mission is to bring together practitioners and researchers to support and foster the nascent, broad-based movement to promote and institutionalize deliberative democracy at all levels of governance in the United States and around the world.

The Deliberative Democracy Consortium is an alliance of the major organizations and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public engagement. The DDC represents more than 50 foundations, nonprofit organizations, and universities, collaborating to support research activities and advance democratic practice, in North America and around the world. As with many of the organizations featured, Deliberative Democracy Consortium has a Facebook page.

Also new to the Governance through Community wiki page is Involve | Making participation count. Involve features experts in public engagement, participation and dialogue.
We carry out research and deliver training to inspire citizens, communities and institutions to run and take part in high-quality public participation processes, consultations and community engagement. We believe passionately in a democracy where citizens are empowered to take and influence the decisions that affect their lives
As admitted above, this is still an idealized state of affairs and remains such if the follow up step to actually make changes in the community is not realized.  Next we take another look at Governance by Community.

Note: A more precise definition would have recognized the word 'through' as  designating particularly immediate agency or instrumentality or reason or motive (see section on Synonyms) but I am going to keep with the distinction currently being used for now

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Seeing Economy and Community as Ecosystem Another Way of Shifting the Paradigm

The last post was about the New Community Paradigms mind-map but more so about discovering new ways to think about the different concepts making up community governance and economic development and how they relate together.  The last year has been spent gathering initial resources from the World Wide Web, organizing them into an online platform through the New Community Paradigms wiki and developing ideas on how to implement new community paradigms.  So far it is still a series of thought experiments exploring possibilities based on using existing resources differently. I am always seeking and glad to find others endeavoring to do the same.

Someone who I see as being on a similar journey but on a different pathway in finding new ways to think about the economies of our communities is Della Rucker of Wise Economy.com.  I have been following Della for a while through a number of LinkedIn groups, including Strong Town Communities and count her among my first level LinkedIn colleagues. This for me is very important because if sites like Facebook and Twitter are among the online pantries where I get new ideas then LinkedIn groups are the stovetop where I set them to stew.

Della was, as is my wife still, an English teacher, as well as a journalist.  This arguably has an impact on both her thinking and writing and enabled her to create new processes to elicit the feedback necessary to move projects forward.

Della is a good choice to follow for ideas on community and economic development.  She has the creds being one of only four known individuals to hold professional certification in both planning and economic development along with expertise in fiscal impact analysis, economic diversification strategies, market analysis and economic structure analysis, comprehensive planning and public participation.

Our pathways differ in geography.  Della, as she says, had a pretty decent front row seat for the collapse of the Rust Belt economy.  I went through the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in California and while the California economy has not collapsed there are still numerous issues serving as the impetus for new community paradigms.

Where I see the greatest alignment though is with her concept of Wise Economies being the equivalent to human ecosystems and then her approach to taking the concept and developing it.  My own thoughts on community environment versus community ecology discussed in the last post primed me for her ideas.  She wrote a series of blog posts on this concept which I am summarizing here. Her perspective takes a below the roots as well as a holistic approach raising the question:

So how do we start building Wise Economies?  Economies = Communities = Ecosystems
First, we need to change how we think about communities, businesses, organizations and governments.  We need to understand that economic vitality depends on the health of a community, and that a community is not a set of separate, unrelated systems – a business district, a school system, a park system, a street system — but an ecosystem.  
I appreciate that she admits in What’s “Wise” About a Wise Economy?  Part 1 that her concepts are not the result of formal analysis but appreciating the process of continually working towards goals and stop thinking about silver medals as losing.

She does however provide a concrete manifestation of her ideas in the updated The Wise Economy Manifesto, Version 2.0.  Here are some of the major points.
  • Communities are human ecosystems.  
  • That which makes you unique makes you valuable.    
  • We must focus on cultivating our native economic species.   
  • Beware the magic pill.   
  • Crowdsourced wisdom is the best way to find a real solution.   
  • We whose have the job of helping communities work better have to be brave.  
The one which particularly caught my eye was Communities are human ecosystems though I am also a fan of the concept of crowdsourced wisdom.

In Building a human ecology (plus a lot of gorillas), she asks, "What does a community ecology need?". 
In this community, as in hundreds of others, the 800-pound gorillas, for better or worse, are gone.  Instead, we have communities with a large number of smaller players – 100-pound or 50-pound gorillas, if you will.  Capacity is still there, but it’s not as simple to get it in motion as it used to be.  Since we have tended to think so simplistically, we don’t know how to harness those gorillas together.   So we underestimate the capacity we have, we decry the loss of the Old Days, and we assume that we are stuck, that we can no longer make our communities better.
Some might say that the 800-pound gorillas in truth cost too much to feed even when they were available but we can leave that for later.
We no longer live in an era where we can take healthy, vibrant human ecologies for granted.  We who work with local governments and nonprofits are our communities’ biologists – we see the warning signs of trouble before almost anyone else.  We don’t always know how to solve it, and we don’t always do a good enough job sending up the alarm.  And sometimes we get scared and don’t send up the alarm at all, or we raise our concerns timidly and back off when the gorillas growl.  But we know what’s at stake.
In Growing a small business ecology, part 1, she puts forward the argument "that growing a robust small business economy is one of the most important things we can be doing to create a Wise Economy — and about the fact that we don’t put anywhere near enough effort into this".

What is more important, she brings forward the human face of such endeavors.  Della's approach to writing seems to me to be more narrative and persuasive, even motivational than mine.  Continuing on with Cultivating the Small Business Ecosystem (part 2), Della again argues for a more systematic approach to creating a Wise Economy particularly with economic metrics.
We do a particularly lousy job of monitoring our local small business ecosystems.  We tend to assume that everything is fine based on a few overly-simplistic indicators, like the number of new businesses, without digging deeper into the data to understand whether those factors are actually signs of growth or decline.
In her blog post The first steps toward the marathon
It’s a tough challenge that I keep laying out with this Wise Economy thing.  If you share my belief that the realities of the world and communities around us require us to rethink, reboot and re-engage in the work of building great communities, it’s easy to find yourself in the blind alley where those good intentions thump into a brick wall.  So the key question becomes, “How?
Then again admitting, I don’t completely know yet. I am in the same boat.  I don't have everything clearly laid out yet either even in my own head, not to mention organizing it in a fashion that is easily understood and able to be implemented.

Della and I have other points of similarity in our intellectual foundations.  We both admire Umair Hacque, an economist and a great writer for the Harvard Business Review who has done a tremendous job in providing insights into the changes occurring in the world economy over the past few years. In her blog post Structural Change, Cyclical Change, Institutional Change…coming to your hometown, she quotes his blog post on the structural vs cyclical debate in which he does not take sides but seeks a third path.

Della is also seems to be an admirer of Thomas Kuhn who wrote about the development of scientific paradigms and the fact that as she says that the most critical scientific discoveries, the most profound observations, require someone or someones to break through the unexamined assumptions that underpin the status quo.  Unsurprisingly, any blog that claims to be seeking new community paradigms has to hold Thomas Kuhn in high regard. 

I particularly admired her approach on developing new paradigms:
Instead, start looking for the walls of your community’s, your profession’s, your organization’s paradigm.  Think about what you and your peers are assuming, and what the alternatives might look like.  Talk to people who have a different perspective — who come from other professions and other places.  They might not want to rock your boat either, but there’s no harm in pushing them a little… and see what you can learn.;
Della also cites the column which Umair Hacque wrote titled “Make the Dangerous Choice to Dissent” which fits in nicely with the philosophy of this blog.

Della comes back though to the pragmatic needs of communities. What does it mean to have a Wise Economy, and what does it matter to you?

The Wise Economy, then, is about making communities work, truly work, on multiple dimensions and for the long run.  For that reason, building a Wise Economy is not just a job for planners, or economic developers, or any other single community – building specialization.  The fundamental challenge of the Wise Economy is to make better decisions that will build the kinds of communities where we all want to be, and that means that it has to involve all of the people who make a community what it is.  That means elected officials, infrastructure managers, business leadership and the residents of the community.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride. 

I am happy that there are others that I can meet on this journey that are trying in their own unique way to make changes and create their own style of new community paradigms.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Formally Introducing the New Community Paradigms Mind-map

The New Community Paradigms mind-map was recently introduced but not formally.  This introduction is admittedly an expression of my inner geek and a growing interest in Systems Thinking.

This is still at a rudimentary stage of development subject not only to the addition of new data and information as well as revisions and reorganization but it provides a useable conceptual framework.

As explained previously the different ideas making up the mind map mirror the concepts found within the wiki-sections and wiki-pages of the New Community Paradigms wiki.  The posts of this blog have also been interrelated with the mind-map.  The mind-map makes use of the same information as found in this blog and the related wiki but provides pathways for different insights.

The continuing process of creating the mind-map helps to demonstrate why functions in any enterprise, whether public or private, may first be separated then segregated and finally become 'siloed' working for their own continued existence and not their original mission if left unexamined and unchallenged.

This is also true of the conceptual framework behind thinking about a system of community governance and economic development.  Economic concerns and environmental concerns are often put in opposition to each other as if we have the choice of succeeding in one but not the other or that the other would simply take care of itself.  Even when not put in opposition, it is often difficult to see how different functions can be related to each other so we concentrate on one to the detriment of the other.

The New Community Paradigms mind-map helps to both discover unrealized connections and redefine connections.  One example was changing from a concept of Community Environment to Community Ecology.  Dictionary.com provides the following definitions:

en·vi·ron·ment

  [en-vahy-ruhn-muhnt, -vahy-ern-] Show IPA
noun
1.
the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, orinfluences; surroundings; milieu.
2.
Ecology the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.
3.
the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a personor a population.
4.
Computers the hardware or software configuration, or themode of operation, of a computer system: In a time-sharingenvironment, transactions are processed as they occur.
5.
an indoor or outdoor setting that is characterized by the presence of environmental art  that is itself designed to be site-specific.

e·col·o·gy

  [ih-kol-uh-jee]  Show IPA
noun
1.
the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment,including other organisms.
2.
Also called human ecology. the branch of sociology concerned with the spacing and interdependence of people and institutions.


It was judged to be more appropriate to associate the word ecology with community rather than the word environment because it provided a greater biological orientation to the concept of community and the process of relating to the environment.  It is differentiated from the concept of Places at the highest level of the map having an equal, related but different function.

The concept of Community Ecology connects to the concepts of Sustainability and Environment, which in turn connects back through Built Environment (which still needs to be developed) to Places and the concept of Livable Communities.

Thinking about relationships and interactions between the community and its environment also assists in starting to consider the relationship of Streets and Transportation to Community Ecology, Places and Regional Economics.

The Brain.com system of mind-mapping involves creating a framework of parent and child connections concerning various ideas, concepts, data or other features.  It also includes something called a jump link which is for concepts that are not related in a hierarchal manner but are still important for understanding, such as Community Ecology with Streets and Transportation.

One tweak of the New Community Paradigms mind-map is to redefine the jump links to serve as bridge links  defining certain concepts as the conceptual intersection of two separate and perhaps seemingly unrelated concepts.

One example is Place as Economic and Social Engine which is connected both to the concepts of Places and Economics through the wiki and associated blog posts.  It also provides a conceptual connection to Strong Towns though it needs to be made clear that the connections are from my perspective not necessarily theirs.

Tomorrow I am going to write about someone who expanded the concept of ecology even further applying it not only to the economic concerns of the community but to the overall health of the community itself.  Now just have to think about how to map it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Reviewed What and How, Now the Whys

The last two posts (here and here) (written not computer generated) provided a review and a regrouping of this effort to create  'new community paradigms' after the summer hiatus.  It has been nearly a year since this effort started with a good deal of that time spent working on the supporting online infrastructure.  It is time to review the whys, both big and small.

The small why was a desire to establish a foundation for the argument for the ostensibly lofty goal of creating new community paradigms. Ostensible because even though the goal is not within the apparent reality of most, requires significant transformations in all areas of community governance and economic development, is inherently complex and requires more exploration in new territories and likely future reassessments, revisions and regroupings, it is still possible to achieve through technology placed under a system of citizen based democratic governance. This argument though still continues to need to be build further.

This effort, the big why, is still to directly provide resources and connections to supportive groups to members of a community in creating new community paradigms on their own  of their community through community governance by the members of that community, with or without city hall.

The primary focus is on citizen based democratic governance, more specifically direct participative democracy as featured in the Governance through Community wiki section and related blog post.  Although having a technologically adept community is important in this effort, technology itself takes a supporting not a starring role as discussed here.   We already have the resources necessary to start building  new paradigms for community governance and to enhance the ability to fulfill the economic needs of the community's members as discussed here and here.  What has been missing is the means of utilizing these resources and the community will to do so.

This brings up the at first seemingly unattainable chasm created arguably as a symptom of the current system of local political and economic power.  Most people are not involved enough in their communities to make the necessary changes.  Many currently have zero involvement because they have been turned off by the current system of power which becomes all the more entrenched because people are not involved.  This is a matter of learned helplessness which can be unlearned.

Others continue to try to make changes but are locked out by the current benfactors of politics occupying city hall which often has the appearance of a democratic system but the culture of entrenched power.

In future articles, it will be asserted that this is not as unattainable as may be seemingly apparent.   While members of a community may have different degrees of involvement in their community, it is still possible to organize to generate the necessary community will for change.

For this to be even considered possible one would have to be able to first demonstrate that the current political and economic development system was starting to crumble under its own weight because of its increasing inability to provide true economic benefit to communities and explain why this was happening.  This is not the primary focus for this blog but the media is full of stories of cities going bankrupt and organizations such as Strong Towns arguing that the current template for economic development is a giant ponzi scheme. These stories are often featured in the related Economic Development in San Gabriel plus World Facebook Page and Community Paradigms Twitter feed.  It would also be necessary to argue that continuing on the current path is not sustainable.  This argument can be made for both economic and environmental reasons.

There is though no choice in abandoning the current system, only in trying to determine what will replace it, the quicker, the better.  Those decisions, are in part, already being made by those in power under the current political system of city and municipal government and related economic development benefactors.  They will not only hold on to the old ways as long as possible despite any destructive tendencies, they will also try to mold any replacement of the system not only to their own benefit but in support of the culture entrenched under the current system.  In many cases, the culture of the existing system is so pervasive that the system repels attempts to change it even when someone does try to do so with the best of intentions.  This is the reason for a lack of faith in any politician or political interest that claims to be the only means of bringing about change but only if they are voted in.

This may be like a small drip of water against a giant stone but I know that others are working on this in their own way and if we continue to consistently and persistently work on realizing these new paradigms for our communities we will start seeing desired changes at the most fundamental levels.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Going over the Mechanics Again

The recent What I did over the Summer post went over a number of changes made to this blog and related resources.  There were also some additional changes, perhaps not so significant in themselves but it might make sense to go over again the overall organization of this effort to demonstrate how it all fits together.

One objective of this effort is to find new resources on the web to assist in creating new community paradigms.  Another recent change to this blog is that now these new resources are being featured as Daily Updates on this blog after being added to the New Community Paradigms Diigo Group Page.

So far, there are 319 different resources related in some manner to creating new community paradigms under a variety of tags including:


Facebook comes out on top because many organizations, which can be partnered with in creating new community paradigms, connect with members and potential members through their Facebook sites.   The Facebook Connections wiki-page on the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki has a list of these groups organized under their particular areas of concern.  The article tag is for Featured Articles via Diigo found in the right hand column of this blog.  Recent articles posted were Conversation with Jane JacobsGreen from the Grassroots and What Critics Get Wrong About Creative Cities - Jobs & Economy - The Atlantic Cities.

There are three different sets of tags or labels, blog labels found near the bottom of each blog post, tags for the wiki, and New Community Paradigm Diigo Tags.  The goal is to have them all coordinated across the three separate platforms.  This is still an ongoing process of revisions.

Along with these featured articles, the RECENTLY UPDATED COMMUNITY BUILDING BLOGS section, found immediately under the Featured Articles via Diigo section, provides information and insights on a variety of areas concerned with new community paradigms.  The latest addition to the blogroll is Wise Economy » Blog.

These new resources will also continue to appear on the Economic Development in San Gabriel Valley + World Facebook page.

The first two Daily Updates featured:

Daily Update 08/14/2012 (a.m.)

  • Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of a nationwide network of nonprofit reporters. Supplementing these efforts is our newly launched Citizen Watchdog program that trains ordinary citizens to report from local communities.

And

Daily Update 08/08/2012 (a.m.)

It is one thing to aggregate resources, it is another to organize them into a conceptual framework.  That is the purpose of the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki.  In addition to the resources already cited, the wiki is broken down into Wiki Sections:
These sections are broken down further into wiki-pages.

After finding a resource and categorizing it by assigning it to the correct wiki-page or creating a new one, the next step in the process is envisioning and explaining how to use the resource in creating new community paradigms.  The first part, envisioning, is greatly assisted through the newly added NEW COMMUNITY PARADIGMS SYSTEMS MINDMAP by THEBRAIN.COM.  The second part, explaining the how and why, is done through this blog.

The truth is though that I have far more resources categorized under the wiki than I do related blog posts explaining them so a good deal of time in the future will be spent closing this gap.  

All of this continues as a learning platform primarily for myself providing pathways to new ways of thinking through my online connections, particularly through my LinkedIn groups.  It is at this level that I find the most meaning in this effort.  I am more than glad to share this effort with whomever is interested. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I did over the Summer

It has been about since the end of May or the beginning of summer since this blog has been updated with a post.  Part of that was spent in Europe as celebration for combination 20 year Wedding Anniversary, birthday and retirement celebration and part was working on some of the behind the scenes infrastructure for this effort.

Some new additions include a foray into mind-mapping using TheBrain.com.  The link for the mind-map related to New Community Paradigms is located in the right hand column of this blog and is based upon the New Communities Paradigm Wiki which also has its link in the right hand column.  Same data but the mind-map provides a new perspective on the information helping to come up with new insights.   I am still experimenting but then I am always experimenting.

Before the summer, I had written a number of times about Strong Towns.  As I said in the past, I believe that they are asking the right questions and raising the right issues for smaller communities.    Don't always agree with them but still believe in their value.  With this in mind and with approval of Executive Director: Charles L. Marohn, Jr. PE AICP, I set up the Strong Town Communities Group on LinkedIn. There is also a link in the right hand column.

"New Urbanism" is not really a new source of inspiration as this blog has basically been in line with its principles from the beginning but I am now learning far more about it than I ever did while working for cities.  A new program from Congress for the New Urbanism is the  CNU Public Square, again featured in the right hand column. 

In addition to these changes, the entire right hand column of this blog was reformatted changing the priority of a number of resources.

Going forward I find that my intention of building a carefully crafted web platform regarding New Community Paradigms with each piece carefully placed is not going as smoothly as I had hoped.  The world moves faster than that and I am finding a good deal of information that I want to share.

I still believe in putting far more time and effort into research and analysis prior to putting my perspectives on these pages so certain articles will take time.  My work during the summer with the wiki and mind-mapping has provided me a great deal of material with which to work.  Among those are new ways of approaching our problems of today.  This will likely mean more jumping around regarding ideas and issues.

More often than not these are featured in Fast Company Magazine though there are other sources such as the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review.  These articles are geared usually to businesses but I have long supported using business ideas and discipline (though not necessarily business outcomes as the only metric for community governance) by community change-agents and if there is to be any hope of instilling New Community Paradigms to change the way we govern our local communities then we need new ideas outside of the old ways of thinking.

Past Posts