Community Weaving: Creative solution for a new century Convener: Christ for the City International A collaborative project to create resilient and thriving communities adaptive to change CW Coordinator: Mark Pomeroy Lincoln, NE (402) 617-4959 email@example.com“The more resourceful we are among ourselves, the more valuable a resource we become to our families, our communities and our world.” Cheryl Honey
Community Weaving: A new solution for a new century www.communityweaving.orgCommunity Weaving (CW) alleviates suffering and increases civic engagement as it weaves aFamily Support Network of Good Neighbor volunteers in the community. “Good Neighbors” pooltheir resources to support one another, organize activities fun for all ages and spearhead communityservice initiatives that can be tapped by organizations and first responders to serve the broadercommunity. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret MeadCommunity Weaving is a long-term process to increase volunteerism, civic engagement and social capital.It identifies peoples’ talents, possessions & experiences at the grassroots level in schools, churches,neighborhoods, companies, and civic groups, so people don’t fall through the cracks. It weaves the tangibleresources of the grassroots with the skills and expertise of formal organizations to create aninterdependent functioning community system
“It occurs to me that this is not a neighborhood; it is only a collection of unconnected individuals” Philip Langdon Why don’t neighbors ask for help when they need it? Why don’t neighbors offer to help their neighbors in need? Responses from neighbors: “I’m afraid of being judged if others knew about the situation” “People don’t care” “I don’t know who to ask” “I’m too busy to get involved” “It’s none of my business” “Don’t want to get sued” “Neighbors might think I’m too nosey” “If I help them, they will expect me to help them in the future”Who started Community Weaving?In 1993, Cheryl Honey, pioneer of Community Weaving, was a single mother of four children struggling tomake ends meet. She applied for assistance from a local agency and was treated like she was broken andneeded to be fixed. She asked the caseworker to connect her to her neighbors, but the caseworker said itwould violate liability and confidentiality policies. Cheryl realized in that moment whather calling was. She gathered a small group of neighbors together at an elementaryschool and they created a safe place to start Family Support Networking. Neighborsshared issues impacting their lives and found the support they needed to make toughchoices to improve their quality of life. They made friends and got the support theyneeded to solve their own problems. Speakers shared information about programsand services that families expressed interest in learning about. The neighbors self-organized to help each other. Everyone who attended agreed to be Good Neighborsand pooled their resources. Over time agencies asked the Good Neighbors to volunteerto assist their clients and Community Weaving was born as networks sprang up allacross the country.
“If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century.” Martin Luther King, Jr.Technology helps weave community and informs leadersThe Good Neighbors website (www.goodneighbors.net) was developed by Good Neighbor volunteers. It is afree web-based tool to help people find what they need and search for resources to help others to improveconditions in the community. Features of this user-friendly technology include: Inventory assets: skills, equipment, tools, and experience Form groups based on location or affinity Post social, educational and recreational activities Publish rosters of groups Publish alphabetized resource directories Tabulate volunteer hours and correspond to demographics Capture details about issues and lessons learnedThe Good Neighbors technology offers leaders valuable information about what is occurring in thecommunity. Leaders utilize this data to help them be more responsive to the needs of the people.Making a difference in someone’s lifeAn example of how Community Weaving works is when a “Good Neighbor” who was a bank employee invites acustomer who is a local plumber to be a “Good Neighbor.” It is a great way to break his daily routine that kept him isolated from community. She signed him up as a “Good Neighbor” and he offered $1,000 of in‐kind plumbing services. Two weeks later a teacher calls a “Community Weaver” in the network about a student whose grandmother wasn’t able to afford plumbing repairs on leaky pipe. Plumber’s name comes up on a database search and is contacted by the “Community Weaver” to fix the pipe. Plumber’s life is touched byhelping this family. He decides he wants to volunteer to conduct a workshop on fixing leaky pipes to teens atan after school program. He discovered that he had been too skeptical about people and that sometimespeople really do need a helping hand.Community Weavers bridge gaps across community systemsCommunity Weavers are caring community citizens who come from allwalks of life. Some are professionals in organizations, faith-basedcommunities, schools and businesses. Others who like to help people andhave discretionary time can also be Community Weavers if they have aphone line and know how to use a computer. Community Weavers arecertified after completing training and passing a background check. Theyserve as bridges between organizations and advocate for individuals to getthe help they need. They coach callers how to access the resources theyneed to help themselves, as well as connect those requesting assistancewith trained volunteer Family Advocates.
Neighbors have a lot of resources they are willing to shareCommunities are filled with an array of gifts and assets. Individuals are multi-talented and have many resources,but barriers prevent them from sharing these gifts. Even consumers of services such as welfare recipients,people with disabilities, those with mental health issues and veterans, all have something they can contribute tohelp a neighbor in need or volunteer in the community.Many responsible and responsive citizens are willing to share their time, talents and resources with people theytrust. The environmentally conscious are networking and creating coops to reduce consumption. There is anenormous amount of untapped resources that would benefit the whole community.
Organizations have skills and expertise they are willing to shareOrganizations in communities provide programs, services and have trained professionals. These are calledCommunity Assets. Many people who would benefit from these resources are not able to access them formany different reasons. Take a moment and list reasons why these resources are not accessible to allcommunity members?Due to budget cuts & staff reductions, many talented professionals are transferred to other departments orseek jobs in fields unrelated to their experience and training. What happens to training curriculums,materials & videos when funding runs out and programs eliminated? Community Weaving has developedtools to maintain access to these skilled professionals and all these valuable skill-building materials.
Our mission in life is to weave community "Helping Hands" by Nina, 3rd Prize, Grades 9-12God has a mission for all of our lives. The common thread among all believers is we are called to be GoodNeighbors. We are not here for others to meet our expectations. We are called to be compassionate andmerciful to our neighbors. This is the common thread that runs across all belief systems. Our skills andexperience are the gifts God gave us to help ourselves and our neighbors in need. The time has come toshift beliefs from a philosophy to a practice for faith-based communities to manifest in communities.Borrowing material from Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford’s new book, Right Here Right Now: Everyday Mission forEveryday People, to be published in Jan. 2011: There must be an intersection of Spiritual Formation (in Self), Common Community (in the Body) and Missional Living (in the World). We don’t take God into a mission. We are missionaries bringing God’s love into the world.
Creating Collaborative Partnerships across Community SectorsWe are facing tough challenges ahead and community organizations want to collaborate more effectively.Each partner designates a representative from their organization, school, faith-based community or businessto be a CW Liaison. They also identify individuals who will be trained and serve as Community Weavers.Community Weavers design strategies to recruit and engage their constituents as Good Neighbors to weavethe fabric of community. Collaborative Partners provide a list of resources they are willing to share includingbooks, videos, curriculums, meeting space, speakers and workshops that can be used to increase knowledgeand skill sets of the Good Neighbor volunteers.Community Weaving is a turn-key bottom-up capacity building approach that breaks down silos by creatingcollaborative partnerships across community sectors. The approach is integrated into establishedinfrastructures and enhances service delivery systems.
Years ago when there weren’t as many agencies to rely on, people relied on each other. Their interactionswere the interwoven strands of the patchwork of community. This weaving affect served as a safety net andneighbors cared for each other.Over the years times changed and a number of factors played into the unraveling of the fabric of community.People started falling through the cracks and into the streets during the great depression. The War on Povertycreated a new safety net of organizations funded by government to help meet the needs of the people. Fewerpeople relied on their neighbors and started turning to agencies.This became the way communities functioned. More people became reliant on agencies to meet their needsand people became more isolated and disenfranchised as they bore the burden of shame, guilt and frustration.The capacity of agencies’ ability to meet the needs depended on funding. As funding was cut, agencies weren’table to meet the demand for services so people began falling through the gaps. This created an adverse affecton public health and safety. Many grass roots organizations started up to help meet the needs of the poor,unemployed, homeless and hungry, but the situation worsened with deeper budget cuts. Community Weavingengages people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to be Good Neighbors as a way to re-weave thefabric of community.Reciprocal partnerships are established between formal systems and grass roots organizations to buildcapacity and increase resiliency across the whole community system. As more consumers of services becomeGood Neighbors and learn new skills to access resources, the strain on financial resources of agencies isreduced. As Good Neighbors use their skills to help themselves and others, they learn new skills and becomecontributing members of society, which builds self-esteem. Weaving community in this manner creates safer,more resilient communities that are more self-sufficient, responsive and adaptive to change.
How it worksCommunity Weaving enables people to connect directly to each other for assistance, for fun or to serve in thecommunity. Agencies refer people into the Good Neighbors network who are higher functioning which makesroom for those who need professional services. Good Neighbors in the network experience a sense of hope,purpose and belonging having direct and immediate access to the human and tangible resources in thenetwork. The capacity of the organizations increases having access to Community Weavers who matchreferrals to trained Family Advocate volunteers in the grass roots safety net. All the interactions build andbridge social capital. All this activity is tracked on the Good Neighbors website and reports are published andmade available to all Community Weavers, Collaborative Partners and community leaders.
Ways to participate Good Neighbor Good Neighbors lend a helping hand to their neighbors and organizations from time to time or pitch in on specific projects. Everyone involved in CW is a Good Neighbor because everyone is equal no matter their income, race, profession or situation. Good neighbors self-organize into Family Support Networks in their schools, faith-based communities, businesses, groups, organizations and neighborhoods. Good Neighbors sign up free on the website: www.goodneighbors.net to track peoples’ contact information, talents, possessions and experiences they are willing to share with others. People can form their own networks to help others. For example, someone who has dealt with alcoholism is in the best position to help someone with an alcohol problem. Community Weaving (CW) Partner Organizations, businesses and professionals become CW Partners. Good neighbors who are professionals in the community may also register as CW Partners and list goods, services and resources they are willing to share.Community WeaverCommunity Weavers are the hubs of Community Weaving. Theyrecruit Good Neighbors and coach them how to access resources.Community Weavers learn how to assess situations to maximize onsafety and make referrals to local agencies when necessary.Community Weavers help Good Neighbors and Family Advocatesorganize social, recreational and educational opportunities.Community Weavers bridge the gap between individuals who don’tknow where to turn and organizations who need additional resources.They link formal and informal systems together. They delegate taskassignments to Family Advocates and Good Neighbors, follow-up andtrack outcomes and do public reports. Community Weavers attendcertification training and pass a background check. Family Advocate Good Neighbors who want to volunteer to help others in the community may be certified as a Family Advocate. Family Advocates receive specialized training to provide direct peer support services to agency referrals. Family Advocates provide services such as childcare, transportation or supervising visitations of children in foster care. Their work can extend to client advocacy and community organizing. Family Advocates are recognized as leaders, advocates and change agents in the community. Family Advocates learn how to access local resources and help families get their basic needs met. They help organize educational and recreational activities for families and spearhead change initiatives. They serve anywhere between 2 to 10 hours per month, and are highly respected for their knowledge and commitment to the betterment of community. All Family Advocates must pass a background check to become certified.
Goals: 1. Support: Enable loving family and community support structures grow people holistically in all areas of life 2. Empowerment: Empower people to work together in serving everyone in the community 3. Boundaries & Expectations: Use positive role models as examples for setting right boundaries and high expectations to benefit our communities 4. Constructive Use of Time: Use time constructively and creatively to build others up in recreational, spiritual and family activities 5. Commitment to Learning: Develop commitment to learning that maximizes gifts and talents in making our communities better places 6. Positive Values: Practice positive values of caring, social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility and restraint 7. Social Competencies: Cultivate social competencies among diverse people to resolve conflicts 8. Positive Identity: Believe in positive identity as a created person with purpose and hope- filled futureObjectives: • Increase face-to-face interactions • Build trusting and meaningful relationships • Create opportunities to lead & mentor others • Provide direct access to no/low cost resources • Empower people to help themselves & others • Generate data to affect change in service deliveryWhy it works: • Community-Based & Participant-Driven • Builds trusting relationships and social networks • Opportunities to lead & mentor others • Saves time & money by pooling and sharing resources • People empowered to help themselves & serve others • Serves as infrastructure to generate data from grassrootsBenefits • Reduces demand on depleting resources • Tracks shift in use of grass roots resources • Reduces caseworker burnout • Fosters self-sufficiency and cooperation • Raises protective factors to improve health & safetyOutcomes • Taps innovation at grass roots to solve problems • Citizens are invested in outcomes • Reduces caseworker burnout • Fosters self-sufficiency • Grows cooperatives and micro-enterprises • Raises protective factors to improve health & safety