Several years ago the SCOPE board reflected on the experience of the first several years of “study groups.” There was a conscious discussion that centered on the question, “are we primarily commited to community problem solving or to community engagement?” We considered the potential for significant change – transformational change – and concluded that this would only happen through community engagement. In reference to why this approach has the greatest capacity one can look at both the literature and research about community change. Below are quotes from a book that all members of the SCOPE Board have received. It is called Community – The Structure of Belonging and was written by Peter Block.
“Community offers the promise of belonging and calls for us to acknowledge our interdependence. To belong is to act as an investor, owner and creator of this place.”
Research from Robert Putnam reported in Bowling Alone shows that “… a community’s well-being simply has(d) to do with the quality of the relationships, the cohesion that exists among its citizens. He (Putnam) calls this social capital. Social capital is about acting on and valuing our interdependence and sense of belonging.”
“…to improve the common measures of community health – economy, education, health, safety, the environment – we need to create a community where each citizen has the experience of being connected to those around them and knows their safety and success are dependent on the success of all others.”
That is what SCOPE is trying to accomplish. Contributing to an environment that results in the emergence of COMMUNITY.
At a board meeting in January 2010 the SCOPE Board talked about our intentions as an organization. I want to recount those now.
Overarching Goals for SCOPE • Be the organization that is reputed to have shifted the breadth and nature of engagement throughout our community. o Including communities that have been historically disengaged and underrepresented o Generate tangible and demonstrable evidence – when you enter Sarasota County you can tell • Be the organization that citizens, institutions and associations turn to for dynamic, accessible data about one’s own place (neighborhood scale to county scale)that is current that can be manipulated by citizens • Be the organization to go to for knowledge about transforming our community into a thriving place. • Maintain a presence – from the micro (neighborhood) to the macro (county and public policy). • Be the organization that is identified across sectors and across scales as the trusted convener for problem solving and possibility generation.
We are in a time of reflection again. We are in the last months of our most significant effort to date – the Institute for the Ages. To be sure - this Institute came from SCOPE though the 1000 people engaged through our convening. It is an example of how this community looked at itself and sees its asset, our unique demographics that foreshadow the worldwide demographic shift. It is filled with the potential of this place being inter-connected as an exemplar for the world.
In the past year we made specific decisions to shift our resources so that we are better able to accomplish these goals.
This is end-of-year thinking. It is history. It speaks to our future.