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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Creative Discovery on New Community Paradigm Pathways

The last blog post continued to explore the new Kumu map of the New Community Paradigms (NCP) Wiki (the map is also contained within the wiki page). Here is a tour if this is the initial general introduction but this post does not depend upon it. The last blog post expressed the view that the NCP Wiki Map was not so important on its own but as a tool for creative discovery, an idea which will be explored further in this post.

Actually, it is not the NCP Wiki Map itself that is the basis for creative discovery; it is instead the Kumu program at its foundation and the application of systems thinking in the use of that tool. Still, the NCP Wiki Map is believed to be a pretty good example of what can be done with Kumu, especially when applied to complex community issues as is being attempted here. 

It should be made clear though that New Community Paradigms is not endeavoring to become a large organization or movement. It is intended to be designed as an expandable and evolvable template that a group within a community could use to leverage potential community resources. 

The last post also spoke of getting ahead of myself. In the post previous, I had jumped from dealing with planning and placemaking within complex systems (of greater community involvement) to contrasting complicated top-down management systems and complex community governance systems, as had been discussed in past posts, and then jumped back to planning in the context of creating healthy communities. The point and a rationale behind this effort are that not only is organizing information gathered over time challenging but disseminating that information in a coherent manner within complex social networks, especially when others are unfamiliar with the concepts, can be a daunting undertaking. While examining "complexity" and its relation to community building and development has been of interest since the early beginnings of this effort, it was wrong to jump back and forth without more context.

There are then three separate concepts about which people have to be persuaded to invest time into understanding, Kumu mapping, systems thinking, and community issues (actually a host of concepts filed under new community paradigms). This obviously is not going to be for everyone, to be truthful, not even most people. Most don’t need to be experts though in all three, actually not even particularly in any one of them but they would have to have some knowledge and more importantly would need to be able to collaborate. I believe though that, in the hands of even a small number of people working together, it could begin to make a difference. 

After the confession, it was a matter of discussing the resources to be found under the recent Planning for Healthy Communities wiki page and connecting to the mapped element for it (use the “On Kumu Map” link at the top), and other elements of the Places and Healthy Communities maps (also accessible from narrative sections to the left) and then clicking on the related Asset Based Community Development element moving next into its own map then back to the wiki (use the URL near bottom of the element’s narrative section or double click the element within the map). 

This continued in the next post with exploring  Community Design, and Community Arts (both under Places, mouse over the listed text) with Healthy Cities and began tying them together (needs to be repeated, clicking a map’s white space reveals underlying map).

The Places map may be the most complex appearing of these maps but is basically a collection of eight related issues (put the mouse over the center Places element within the map to highlight first degree connections) which bridge over into other sectors. The Healthy Communities and Asset Based Community Development maps aren't that complex on their own. Individual elements though within these maps can appear in other maps and all can be connected. Hopefully following element paths into different maps will generate new ideas, new connections could be developed. 

The last blog post also attempted to create a mental model of “Artistic Thinking” as pathways of connections, the first, being the Art and  Healthy  Communities Map. The mental models for the current configuration NCP Wiki Map were developed through the related blog posts found in their most closely related wiki page. Although blog posts are not always the defining basis of the mental models for all of the map elements, connections were not created unless what could be seen, and better yet delineated in writing, as establishing some meaningful relationship. These then helped to define the NCP Wiki Map’s structural level connections, especially the bridge elements connecting substantially different elements and sectors together. 

These new sets of pathways were then enhanced further after publishing the blog post introducing the ability to highlight or focus on certain element or groups of elements. As explained in the Art and  Healthy  Communities Map narrative, going through the different levels of focus new elements appear.

This is where this being a solitary endeavor, due to my introvert and introspective nature, runs into its limitations. Having everyone already learned Kumu mapping is the best solution but until that can be taken for granted it seems necessary to provide explicit instruction on issues such as white space or determining focus. 

This is being attempted, in different ways, with the two new pathway sets. Further directions are provided in the hope people will learn Kumu directly and figure out how to navigate on their own or the other way around, both work. The hope again is that the map can be designed so that groups of individuals with different interests and backgrounds could work together and create common collaborative maps but that's not happening here yet. Instead, this is more at the level of explorations, if things work, and experimentation, if they don’t.

Two other new sets of pathways, Pathways to Healthy Communities Map and the Collective Impact within NCP Map were also created for the post, as working at the mental model level of the Systems Thinking Iceberg Model

Because it involves the entire larger overall NCP Wiki Map, the initial Pathways to Healthy Communities Map is apparently complex. However, by clicking on “Focus on Pathway” the specific specialized map is focused upon or by moving further down to the second paragraph of the narrative section one can also choose to only highlight it.

Further down the narrative section, the narrative approach is integrated with the graphic elements of the map. Unlike maps such as Places, there is more than a collection of related objects underlying the map’s organization. The connections cross over different sectors influencing each other. One can follow these pathways by mousing over the text within the narrative. Additional directions can be found in the Pathways to Healthy Communities Map itself.

The Collective Impact map, on its own, is not seen as being directly subsumed or above other elements of the NCP Wiki Map. Rather, it is seen as being related to other elements. These particular displayed relationships, as configured within the map,  were based on my individual inquiries. Different relationships could be created, developed and evolved further by others. 

The Collective Impact within NCP Map, which is accessible through the main Collective Impact map, is of a different configuration. The map’s narrative provides access to greater focus or further down the ability to highlight within the map by passing over with the mouse. Selecting the Community Impact Focus Map allows one again to highlight or by following the directions select the specific map then proceed 1, 2 or 3 degrees out or clear the map to its original configuration. As the narrative for the map states, though, not all elements will be related meaningfully to but a number could be integrated into supporting Collective Impact efforts. 

It is still necessary though to visit each element of interest’s wiki page by double clicking on that element or clicking once to open up its narrative and then clicking on the displayed URL. There are then a variety of resources available though these are by no means exhaustive, undoubtedly more are out there. These are the building blocks for creating new community innovations by providing more in-depth information. There is not, however, any correct pathway or any right answers to be revealed.

The long term goal then is not to get people to use my map but to get people to build their own maps, using systems thinking approaches, preferably together with others in their community. The NCP Wiki Map is capable of being “copied”, what Kumu calls “Fork”ed (past tense?) and is licensed to fully authorize this (get to the NCP Wiki Map, three line icon top left corner, click, look for “Fork Project” left-hand column). 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Exploring Pathways Between Community Health, Community Design and Artistic Thinking

In the last blog post, I got ahead of myself too quickly having created a new platform,  New Community Paradigms Wiki Map, to use in these explorations and experiments to discover new paradigms of change for our communities. 

Having covered the same material a number of times, I  can forget that people who may come across this blog more often than not have no idea about what has been done and little awareness of systems thinking as its foundation. One can't assume that people will be impressed you found something if they did not realize it was needed but undiscovered. 

The NCP Wiki map is a tool and while useful, not necessarily that important on its own, the same navigation can be achieved through the New Community Paradigms Wiki itself. It is the compass helping to find the way, not the destination to be discovered. However, having a strong interest in the New Community Paradigms Wiki Kumu Map (stand alone version) not only as my creation but as a different means of creative discovery, I am still going to use it as the basis for navigating some of the concepts included in this blog post.

An original intention of this blog and its related wiki was to provide online resources which could be used to create new community paradigms. The New Community Paradigms Wiki Map is designed to assist in that effort. 

A recent update to the New Community Paradigm wiki, under the Community Design wiki-page, is the Un-School of Disruptive Design | Experimental Knowledge in New York City which encourages people from diverse professional backgrounds to reorient, as the NCP Wiki map seeks to do, the way they perceive and act in the world, learning how to maximize their capacity to influence and affect positive social and environmental change. The concept of disruptive in the teaching design of an experimental un-school is what was appealing. Unlike many if not most of the resources provided in the NCP wiki though there is usually a cost to taking the courses they offer.

This is not the first occurrence of being willing to look at community design experimentally considered. The BMW Guggenheim Lab, also under Community Design was considered back in 2011 in the blog post, Placemaking for communities the canvas becomes the art. The experiment was concluded by 2014. The idea at the time, having had been recently introduced to the concept of placemaking (still not in the dictionary), being that a community’s geographically located, place-based foundation was previously thought of as being only a stage or canvas upon which creative community life happened but instead should be considered essential and integral to the community in its own right. Other resources provided under the Community Design wiki-page are more pragmatic and hands-on related to on-the-ground efforts. 

There is a connection through the wiki-focus page, Community Design to Greater Places | The Community for Urban Design, a crowdsourced “How-To” manual for creating great communities – cities, suburbs and rural areas.  Think of a Pinterest or Houzz for community design.”

“WHAT IS COMMUNITY DESIGN? Community design is about people, the places we live, and the spaces we share. Community design is also about how we come together and make decisions that affect our communities and neighbors: from crossroads in the country to homeowners’ associations in the suburbs to new apartments in the city.” 

There is continued interest and now greater ability to see how these resources and the concept of Community Design can be related to other concepts under new community paradigms, particularly at the mental model level of the Systems Thinking Iceberg Model

At the top of the Community Design wiki page, there is a link to its specific location in an NCP Kumu Wiki map. In this instance, a link will not be provided on these pages in the hope that readers will click on the designated link within the wiki-page. 

Mousing then over the revealed highlighted (green circled) element on the map points to other elements seen as being most closely related to Community Design, including most directly being Community Places and seen as being indirectly related to Community Arts and Planning the Urban Landscape. Clicking on these elements will open their respective narrative sections. Clicking on the white space of the map will open the narrative section of the entire map revealing all of the elements in the underlying Places map. 

This post is going to focus on the related idea of Community Arts. Clicking on the URL provided within the narrative section will take you to the Community Arts wiki page with its own collection of web-based resources. Bringing up the concept of disruptive again, a previous blog post, Art as a Path of Social Disruptive Innovation Towards New Community Paradigms can be found near the top of the wiki-page.

A Community Engagement question was, What's the impact of community art projects? A common response to this question leans towards finding the right metrics in terms of economic impact. However, as a result of new resources added to the New Community Paradigms Community Arts wiki-page, I now believe that focus is limited, that we make a mistake if we only think of integrating art and especially artistic thinking into our systems of community as window dressing for our economic development activities. We should instead be looking to art as a means of transforming and invigorating not only our economic development activities but also our community design and community governance as well.

Artistic thinking then has the potential to become a basis for developing new mental models. One question is how such a mental model and resources could be applied to efforts at Planning for Healthy Communities discussed in the last post. (mouse over Art and Healthy Communities). This is not meant to provide answers rather pathways for exploration. 

Then click on Planning for Healthy Communities. Clicking on the Healthy Communities link provided in the Planning for Healthy Communities narrative bridges over to the Healthy Communities map. One of the first NCP blog posts, Collaborating to Create Healthy Cities, can be found within Healthy Cities (click the URL).

The city of Richmond, California was one of the first cities in the United States to develop a comprehensive general plan element that addressed the link between public health and community design. A full profile on this effort is available from the Prevention Institute of Oakland, CA and more information can be found at the Healthy Cities blog

Adding, even more, resources to the Healthy Cities wiki—page was Pathways to Healthy Communities which came later.

“Davidson Design for Life (DD4L) is an initiative of the Town of Davidson to foster healthy community design through the use of health impact assessments (HIA), public participation, and collaborative efforts in Davidson, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, and North Carolina.”

Even though a small community of 11,750 people (2013) with Davidson College nearby with 1,920 students, the site provides information on “Health Impact Assessment: What is it?”, for the surrounding region and information on HIA in the US.

Pathways to Healthy Communities expands and makes more complex the network of connections, working at multiple levels. Incorporating artistic thinking effectively into these processes will take a great deal of insight and effort and will require finding the right leverage points.

Artistic-thinking was also seen as an approach that has the potential to be useful in broad-based, multifaceted change efforts such as Collective Impact as in Under The What, Why and How of Design Thinking and Collective Impact part 2 of 3.

Artistic thinking can help reach deeper insights, generate more ideas and seep into the community's fabric so that its influence becomes one more of dispersion within a complex community system rather than a transfer of information from one institution to another. An artistic perspective should not be left to the end though but made foundational in community design through design thinking, systems thinking, and other approaches to achieve Collective Impact through new community paradigms.

Collective Impact is, however, seen as being a number of steps or degrees away from Places and its internal connections to Community Design and Community Arts (click “In Places” to reveal), not being directly related to other efforts but an indirect accumulation of those efforts and seen, and in this evolving configuration, as being mitigated through Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking under Systems Thinking, Governance through Community under Community Governance and Design Thinking, placed under Community Management and Technology (you can also find by using the search box at the top right corner of the map section). Closer examinations may reveal means of strengthening these pathways. One path of exploration for the future is integrating Asset Based Community Development into both Collective Impact and Healthy Communities

These are not the only correct pathways available to integrate artistic thinking, community design and planning for healthy communities together but they at least point out potential pathways.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mapping Connections Between Healthy Communities, Planning, Placemaking and Asset Based Community Development

Now that New Community Paradigms (NCP) has a more effective map with which to find new pathways it is possible to go back and reconnect with some that may have been missed or left behind. In general, the trend has been away from institutions or more institutionally based systems and toward more complex systems of greater community involvement but this does not and should not mean abandoning institutions entirely. A greater emphasis on ground-up community placemaking should not mean an abandonment of a more traditional role of planning. It is the relationship between the two that should be redefined.  

This goes to a wider issue of the difference between complicated top-down management systems and complex community governance systems. Despite an obvious preference, at least if you have been following this blog, for the later, the need and benefit of the former are still recognized under the proper circumstances. It is the correct relationship between the two that needs to be defined. 

One area in which this could be seen as being helpful is Planning for Healthy Communities, a new page under the NCP wiki. We are using the term “planning” in the sense of the American Planning Association, the foundational, professional, educational oriented organization behind city hall planning departments across the USA. It is able to suggest policy on a national scale and in the case of the Planning and Community Health Center, focuses its efforts on projects and policies that prioritize active living, food systems, and health in all planning policies.

Many local governments have begun Planning for Public Health by including goals and objectives that promote healthy choices of where to live and how to get around, the ability to access healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity, which affect broader issues of social equity, clean air, and water, and more into their comprehensive plans. More specifically, Plan4Health Projects and Initiatives are launching across the United States in neighborhoods, cities, and counties. Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.

“Local coalitions consisting of American Planning Association (APA) chapters and American Public Health Association (APHA) affiliate members are committed to increasing health equity through nutrition or physical activity with each coalition seen as being dedicated to meeting the needs of residents where they live, work, or play.”

The American Planning Association’s Planning and Community Health Research Center has also partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, on the CDC - Healthy Places - Healthy Community Design Checklist Toolkit. This toolkit, which can help planners, public health professionals, and the general public to include health in the community planning process, is composed of four elements that work together to achieve this goal:
  1. Healthy Community Design Checklist.pdf
  2. Healthy Community Design PowerPoint Presentation.ppt
  3. Creating a Health Profile of Your Neighborhood.pdf
  4. Planning for Health Resources Guide.pdf
It is still, however, a generally top-down application of policy and may never be initiated or fully realized without the intervention of grassroots efforts as well as, as suggested by Paul Born, grass-top organizational efforts.

In the early days of a collective impact approach, we often find that one of two mistakes is made. One is that we gather only the grasstops. That is, we think somehow it’s about shifting power. So we bring the powerful players into the room. The other mistake, almost as common, is that we don’t engage any of the power players because we’re afraid that it will be perceived as a grass-tops initiative.”

There is underlying data that can be gathered and used to inform all perspectives, Health-Impact-Assessment-Can-Inform.pdf, the State-of-Health-Impact-Assessment-in-Planning.pdf, and the HIA-Toolkit.pdf

Additionally, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) recently released an extensive report of peer-reviewed research and case studies, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, demonstrating the power of placemaking to improve health. 

"The Case for Healthy Places is already taking the public health world by storm, and we are confident that this is just the beginning of the Healthy Placemaking Movement!"

Before proceeding further, it should be advised that one could reach all of the following points on the Kumu maps and all others from within the New Community Paradigms Wiki Kumu map itself rather than open in multiple tabs or windows from here. Information on how to navigate through the map can be found through the New Community Paradigms Wiki Map Tour.

A new Planning for Healthy Communities wiki page means a new element on the New Community Paradigms Wiki Map. Wiki-pages are collections of resources related to that topic though are by no means exhaustive. In truth, they are merely gateways into essential, more in-depth studies of the area in question. Their corresponding map elements in conjunction with other elements graphically illustrate possible relationships. It will be noticed that some relationships are more explicit in feeding back to each other.  The idea underlying these mapped out relationships is to expand upon the concepts and avoid the siloing of policy thinking. 

More precisely the Kumu map Planning for Healthy Communities is within the Health Communities Kumu map. One can click on the map’s white space to reveal the fuller map underneath. Other Healthy Communities wiki page links are then displayed in the narrative section. 

Planning for Healthy Communities can be seen as a bridge between Healthy Communities and Community Places within the Places map. Clicking the map’s white space again reveals the numerous wiki pages, bridge pages and other related wiki pages from other wiki maps under the full Places map.

One returns to the collection of web links found on a particular wiki page using the URL within the narrative section of that map element, say Community Places, which focuses more on the community (as a geographic place) planning of building by the community (as social structure). 

Mousing over the highlighted Community Place element of the Places map or any map element shows those wiki pages most directly associated, other overlaying concepts of Place, the wiki focus page of Community Design, the closely related Project for Public Spaces, along with Soul of a Community, and the bridge to Healthy Communities through Planning for Healthy Communities

A similar set of relationships exists with the Healthy Communities element within the Healthy Communities map, including the bridge Planning for Healthy Communities and the related Asset Based Community Development or ABCD. It is the relationship of ABCD in this context that calls for the greatest need for future exploration. 

A short Twitter-talk with Cormac Russell on the CityLab article, The New Front Line of Public Health, on the growing number of community health workers taking a 360-degree view of the barriers that stand between their patients and better health, revealed an ABCD perspective.

“Relative to current malaise it's a quantum leap; relative to what's actually required, it's a mediocre shuffle in the right direction.”

According to Cormac, a significant shift requires seeing beyond healthcare and the proliferation of initiatives like Every Block A Village-Chicago Westside Health Authority.

All of these perspectives can be expanded structurally even further by going to the Wiki Bridges Map in which Planning for Health Communities can be found under *Places of the map’s narrative section. Again, click any white space to reveal the full map. 

More dynamic, complex relationships can be followed as pathways under the Wiki Bridges Pathways Map. Selecting Places Wiki Bridges, one can mouse over the narrative highlighting relevant pathways within the map connecting Places and its elements to other areas of the complete New Community Paradigms map. There isn’t any predetermined route, each group, organization or community determines its own course, preferably by making its own maps.  

Past Posts