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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Evaluation through Logic Models versus Theory of Change with ABCDE

Now that a larger framework has been created in the last post for Wendy McCaig’s conversation concerning perspectives on evaluation, we can take a more direct look at Measuring Success in ABCD – Continued. We will be working with Kumu relational mapping again, so I will be explaining a few things along the way since it has been awhile and for some readers, this could be the first time. 

The  CDCD Asset Mapping Process graphic Wendy provided has been re-created, and displayed on the right-hand side, of the interactive Kumu map CDCD, Citizen-Driven Community Defined

Also available is an interactive Kumu version of the Approaches to Poverty Map that Wendy provided in her blog post, 3 Approaches to Poverty: Relief, Betterment, Development. Wendy's original maps are also available within the narrative section of the Kumu map by clicking on the underlined link. A lightbox will be revealed on top of the screen. As explained in the Kumu map narrative section, the lightbox is closed by clicking the X at the top right corner. Other maps will be provided separately in this post but are also included in the narrative section of the Kumu map CDCD, Citizen-Driven Community Defined or in other related maps. 

Within the narrative section of each Kumu map, if you mouse over dotted underlined text then that element will be highlighted in the related map. Click the underlined text and the narrative for that element to open up. Click the map's white area and the narrative and map will reset. In the Kumu environment, the maps stay in one window. 

There are differences with the interactive Kumu versions of the maps and Wendy’s graphics. The Kumu CDCD Asset Map includes the social concerns that the community initiatives are supposed to address. Wendy’s map displays multiple Resident Led Initiatives for each Action Team. The Kumu map only reflects a particular initiative for each neighborhood, each of which addresses a particular community concern related to kids’ safety.  

The Kumu Approaches to Poverty map has both the Poverty Alleviation component and the Wealth Creation component but are displayed as separate circles. The Spiritual Need element is placed between these two. 

The Social Problems and Community Focus of Wendy’s article is on kids’ safety within an environment besieged by gun violence, sexual predators and unsafe streets made all the more dangerous because the kids don’t have anywhere else to play. Each Neighborhood Initiative addresses one of these concerns.

The intention is to dynamically integrate the CDCD map and Approaches to Poverty map together to begin to answer the five community questions posed by Nurture Development.  

 1. What are the things that only residents/citizens can do in response to this issue?
 2. What are the things that residents/citizens can lead on and achieve with the support of institutions (governmental, nongovernmental, for profit) in response to this issue?
 3 What are the things that only institutions can do for us?
 4 What are the things that institutions can stop doing which would create space for resident action?
 5 What can institutions start offering beyond the services that they currently offer to support resident/citizen action?

In addition, there is the inclusion of three possible Paths of Influence found at the bottom of the Kumu Approaches to Poverty narrative. Again, mousing over each of the dotted underlined paths reveals that path within the map area to the right. Clicking on one of them will open the narrative and reveal the elements involved in that path while clicking on the map white space will take you back. 

The idea for the paths of influence is based on the ABCD theme of “From what's wrong to what's strong.” The Social Emotional Needs of one person could be seen as a deficit but addressed in the aggregate by connected others towards any one person's needs or a group's needs or everyone else’s needs, especially if combined with the communal addressing of Spiritual Needs becomes a strength. 

Under Influence Path 1, the journey is a politically oriented one in which the community attempts to influence the government institution.  Under Influence Path 3, the journey is more of one of partnership in which the community needs to work both with the government institution and on its own at the same time. It is still possible though for the community to take Influence Path 2 in which the community takes action on its own though as reflected in the actions of Better Block and its provision of open source placemaking, it can sometimes be a matter of asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

Two of the Neighborhood Initiatives are seen as primarily addressing Social Emotional Needs. Showing the kids that the community cares for them. At their current degree of interaction, though these community actions through specific members fit 1. What are the things that only residents/citizens can (or would) do in response to this issue? To what degree they address other needs are questions that would still need to be asked. 

Resident Led Initiative 3, takes place in Neighborhood C. In this case, it is very likely that the possible choices invoked are “(2) What are the things that residents/citizens can lead on and achieve with the support of institutions (governmental, nongovernmental, for profit) in response to this issue?”, or “(3) What are the things that only institutions can do for us?”, to resolve physical safety needs or fulfill environmental needs related to health and welfare such as parks. In such circumstances, the community needs to go beyond providing only social-emotional support. Circumstances will dictate which of the paths of influence or others the community decides to take. 

It might be possible to expand programs such as the Cocoa Station under skill 2 to environment 3 and others to help create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Additional skills could be added to each neighborhood and more detailed understanding of each environment and applicable social concerns could be provided. 

None of this has, however, reached a point of evaluation. Not only evaluating the individual projects put out by the community but also evaluating the means by which the community puts out such projects and implements them. In the last post, Cormac Russell provided a number of different evaluation methods, Developmental Evaluation, Most Significant Change, Narrative Therapy and Marshall Ganz's work (pdf) on Public Narrative moving to a Theory of Change and on to a Theory of Practice, all  beyond the standard Logic Model’s limitations that concerned Wendy.  Part of the reason that they are more comprehensive is that they are initiated when the project or program is beginning or even prior, question assumptions and extent even beyond completion.

Marshall Ganz's work (pdf) could be especially relevant to the paths of influence getting people to tell their stories in a manner that creates community cohesion thereby focusing community resolve. This post and the related Kumu map will focus on a Theory of Change, specifically as envisioned by Acumen. The example provided is based on the Last Mile Food Truck project proposed in the Financial Modeling and Last Mile Homeless Food Truck blog post series. A second Acumen course was taken on social impact using the first course as a foundation. The Acumen Theory of Change involves considering one’s assumptions at each step of the process and acquiring evidence to support one’s conclusion. There are also other questions to be considered and a recognition of possible pitfalls.  

The example provided is specific but it needs to be remembered that it is also hypothetical. The blog series was on the Acumen Financial Modeling course involved far more than financial accounting considerations including the systemic difficulties inherent in implementing such projects. The financial models proposed were though fantasy finance or imaginary impact investing as is the concept of social impact here. The full extent of lessons learned has of yet to be determined and revealed, so further inquiries can be expected in the future.

The more relevant question is how this could be related to the three neighborhood initiatives and the particular paths of influence they might take. Were some of the solutions proposed low hanging fruit or could more ambitious projects be developed by the community with our without the assistance of government or non-profit institutions? Assistance would not necessarily have to be directly related to specific projects, it could be related to how the community approaches change through processes such as placemaking with the Project for Public Places or participatory budgeting through the Participatory Budgeting Project or other means of greater community. The relevance of the mapping process is not the completed maps but the process of the community expanding and enhancing its efforts at community empowerment.

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