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.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Difference between Mapping Pathways and Traveling the Road

During week 5 of Active Citizen in a Digital Age, the course guided us in considering how to allocate responsibilities in addressing our shared social goal. Our team's stated mission was to reduce the economic inequality of low-income people by providing access to affordable healthcare, education with job training, and housing. How we were going to do this was a little less clear.

Our plan was to include advocacy activities such as who would volunteer, donate or seek donations to a particular association or charitable nonprofit. How would this make a difference in achieving our goal? Also, who would spend time or money or both specifically focused on policy change or political action? This could include attending public hearings or council meetings on certain topics, organizing people to vote, participating in peaceful protest activities, or donating or seeking donations.

The plan was intended to focus on the type of influence or change that was to be made in one year's time. The one-year time frame provided the potential for including all aspects including ending up with a vote through an election or action by a political body.

We were to explain how the different tactics are meant to fit together and our reasons for choosing those tactics and any tradeoffs we had to make.

When I looked at the assignment, there were a number of questions that came to my mind. My questions were pretty basic. Were we focusing on all three of our objectives in general or picking one and focusing on a particular aspect of an issue? How were we providing access? How were we making it affordable? What type of influence or change were we seeking? Specifically, what policy change or political action were we going to be focused on?

It also seemed that the theme of the first part of the assignment was concerned more with the civil sector while the second part of the assignment was concerned more with the political sector. Which were we going to focus on, the first, the second bull, or both?

If focused on the civic realm then how would our actions make a difference in achieving our goal? If focused on the political realm then at what level of government? If organizing people to vote then I presumed we were speaking of an election through a vote by a political board was also a possibility. If both, how are they then to be related together to explain how our different tactics are meant to fit together? Peaceful protests would seem to be in reaction to a political action. Seeking donations would seem to be as important as making donations (they have a course on that).The one-year time frame provided the potential for including all aspects including ending up with a vote through an election or action by a political body.

As is often my habit, I decided to create a Kumu map of the course’s state Mission and Actions, based on a self-selected choice of healthcare, to make more explicit the relationships between various factors or elements. Opening the map and mousing over the text in the left-hand column will highlight relevant parts of the map but I will also discuss here. The map consists of a Civil Sector and a Political Sector which is organized in such a way that they are seen as working together. Their limitations are made more discernible when viewed separately. The civil sector has difficulty making fundamental changes being often relegated to merely holding the line in terms of social damage. The political sector can’t access the deeper perspective of civil society.

My own potential personal path of involvement was based in part on my past experience working in city government and past and still, unfinished work exploring Effective Virtual Collaboration and its expanded perspective Community Based Virtual Collaboration.

This was fine as far as it went but I needed to include my path as one component of a Collective Action Plan with the others on the team. I had access to everybody else’s narrative as they had access to mine as well as to the basic map I created. With this information, I endeavored to map out a path for each of the team’s participants. My pathway connections' thicker widths make it possible to see where my pathways and the pathways of others overlap.

The team leader Participant 1’s Path emphasized the political sector more though hopefully growing out of an educated and enthusiastic base of support. The far more challenging undertaking though would be carrying this forward to final attainment of the goal.

Participant 2’s Path incorporated the new platform Educate Evangelize which I came to see as very important. One has to change people's mindset before they can change much else. I put Participant 2's path more on the civil side leaving the subsequently educated and enthusiastic to decide for themselves which political path to take. This doesn't preclude political action by Participant 2 but to educate truthfully about something means to my mind connecting with people in the field.

Participant 3’s Path towards change was seen as emphasizing the civil sector connections with various associations and nonprofits and by working with them to impact policy change by working hand in hand with political change. Again, this did not preclude political action by Participant 3 simply that there was an emphasis on working with groups like the American Medical Association (AMA), American Association of Retired People (AARP), American Hospital Association (AHA) and Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), American Cancer Society (ACS), National Physician Alliance (NPA) and Planned Parenthood through which one can leverage these organizations and participate in their efforts to influence elected officials.

Participant 4’s Path towards change emphasized the promotion of financial contributions expanding beyond personal giving.

Each of these paths is a different story which is not being revealed here. The map simply demonstrates how those stories could interact in creating a larger story. It was interesting to note that despite not having any input into the selection of the team members, the Paths of All Participants covered nearly all of the platforms and actions put forward by the course. The All Paths loop brought together all of the individual paths through collaboration. Besides connections related to Crowdfunding to be discussed below, only one connection was missing and that was spending money to organize people to vote which likely needs another level of organization and effort.

Week six of the Active Citizen in a Digital Age course got into the market sector of democratic advocacy including boycotts. Other advocacy support financial tools cited were Crowdfunding like IOBY (In Our Backyards), impact investing as with B corporations and Embedded Giving.

Crowdfunding which was also included in the Combined Paths map connecting the personal actions of spending money, what the course referred to as political spending and donating or seeking donations, what the course referred to as financial support of civil society efforts with the various platforms for action, working with associations or nonprofits, taking political action, working on policy change, or the added education and evangelizing.

The Crowdfunding element’s influence could then be further extended integrating other elements together. Crowdfunding obviously raises money but it could also work through the advocacy systems connector loop, integrating even further.

We created and I mapped out pathways to achieving the goals for which we were advocating. What became obvious to me is that no one path would be enough. The issue I had is that we had no specific modes of traveling those paths. As has been asserted before, "There is also still the further need to move from basically abstract ideas to connecting ideas together for strategic application, to the why, to begin overcoming what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton called the Knowing-Doing Gap (page 7)".

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