Contents of Spring 2008 Collaborative Solutions Newsletter:

In This Issue:

         Spirituality and Social Change : Appreciation, acceptance,
                        compassion and interdependence in our community work

                        Our helping systems are in trouble
                        Spiritual principles can guide us in the work we do.
                        Six serious limiting factors in our helping system
                                     We have overemphasized the deficits in our

                                    Application of appreciation as a spiritual principle. 
                                                  Community Story         
                                    We have lost social change and social justice as our goal.
                                    Application of interdependence and interconnection as
                                                  spiritual principles

                                                  Community Story
         What is new at Tom Wolff & Associates:
                          New Frontiers – Community Directories on the Web Using
                                     New Technology

                          New chapter in book just out
                          Workshop in Lisbon Portugal this summer

Spirituality and Social Change: Appreciation, acceptance, compassion, and interdependence in our community work

Our helping systems are in trouble

            Our helping systems are in deep trouble, and sadly we don’t even seem to notice. When we talk about helping systems in trouble, our first thoughts usually relate to money: “Oh, yeah, I know—not enough money to provide services,” or, “Our agency’s staff is still underpaid.”
            But the kind of deep trouble I am worried about is not about money. In fact, I think that our problems grow from exactly that knee-jerk tendency to think that funding is our biggest issue—the only way we go about addressing concerns of human welfare is by giving money to nonprofits so they can provide services. Unfortunately, with that approach we have created a huge helping industry at the same time that many human problems continue to go unaddressed. In fact, I now think that the nonprofit sector and the helping industry are becoming a significant part of the problems they were established to solve.
            I know I’m applying harsh words to good intentions, and by extension to good people who want to make the world a better place and are laboring at this task in the settings that are available to them. I also know that many of those good people are frustrated that their efforts aren’t producing more significant results. I think that the answers to our biggest problems, in human society and in individual desire to work for change, may best be addressed by calling not for more money but for each of us to remember, and work from, our highest spiritual essence.
            I’d like to talk about this some more in this newsletter, which reflects part of what I’ve learned in a long time of working with a wide variety of people, under all kinds of circumstances, with the intention of improving the quality of people’s lives. Some of what I think now challenges what I’ve thought earlier. Much of what I’ve encountered has required me to let go of preconceptions and dig more deeply into understanding myself and the people around me. It’s all required me to become more open to possibilities, even those that evoke my skepticism.

What works to make people’s lives better?

            The big question in the long run is, “What works to make people’s lives better?”
            I work in communities where the residents are facing profound issues—violence, poverty, abuse, racism, and other big, hard challenges. In these communities, there are many agencies that have been established to address these issues. Those agencies are not necessarily poorly funded, although they constantly complain of being under funded. The agencies spend much of their time and energy competing with each other for funding, clients, staff, and prestige. This competition often greatly limits their effectiveness.
            When I work with local communities, we begin to create innovative ways to address community issues that are not based on the provision of services by agencies. The techniques we use to go beyond the traditional system include community engagement, community ownership, community organizing, and community empowerment. Because we’re following a different path, we encounter active attempts by the nonprofit service providers to undermine our work. This is especially true when we start to succeed.
            The dominant model of clinical service delivery is intentionally disconnected from issues of social justice. But under many circumstances this model, this disconnection, does not make sense. And because it doesn’t make sense, how can it succeed? How can anyone in the United States deliver services in an immigrant community without addressing issues of social justice at a time when this country is engaged in a war on immigrants? How can we address issues of gang violence while we ignore the dismal opportunities and options that our society offers to youth of color?
            We now understand that the emerging problems that communities face have such complex and interdependent origins that we can only fix them if we use comprehensive community problem-solving efforts rather than single-focus approaches. We need to meet and communicate with each other, including representatives from all parts of our communities. We need to step outside the agencies and into the community.
            I have always considered our collaborative work in building healthy communities to be a spiritual endeavor, although I’ve generally kepts those thought private...  I rarely describe this work as “spiritual” because many people associate spirituality with religion. However, in talking about spirituality I am not talking about religion. And as I walk farther in this life I find that the spirituality that I’m talking about comes from many places.
            For many years I have been influenced by the thinking of health visionary Leland Kaiser. He distinguishes between religion and spirituality this way: “Spirituality is often confused with religion. They are very different things. Religion refers to a specific set of beliefs, a tradition, a prescribed set of practices. Spirituality refers to a broad set of principles that transcend all religions. Spirituality is about the relationship between ourselves and something larger. That something can be the good of the community or the people who are served by your agency or school or with energies greater than ourselves. Spirituality means being in the right relationship with all that is. It is a stance of harmlessness toward all living beings and an understanding of their mutual interdependence” (Kaiser, 2000).

Spiritual principles can guide us in all the work we do.

            Spiritual principles can guide us in all the work we do.They can help us understand the shortcomings of our present community systems and can support us as we work with the community to design better ways to proceed. Spiritual principles can guide us as we help communities move toward sharing abundance, honoring the natural environment, promoting social justice and compassion, and operating from a stance of collaboration rather than competition. A spiritual grounding lets us use loving compassion as a guide for our decision making. It helps us honor every member of our community as a valuable asset and appreciated resource.
            It feels odd to be talking about reintroducing spiritual principles into community building and helping. We usually assume that our community-building efforts and our helping systems are built on spiritual principles. Although spiritual ideals may have begun much of this work, the present functioning of nonprofit systems has wandered far from those roots. The system as a whole is now motivated by competition, bottom lines, and capturing market share.
            I have recently been reading a profound spiritual manuscript that has stimulated my thinking. The manuscript suggests that “American institutions now without exception are primarily shaped by what they perceive to be the necessity of winning in a dangerous and highly competitive marketplace. . . . There is no longer any heart-center functioning in American public and political life” (Gill, 2008). What a loss to have a community helping system without a heart center. This thought leads me to the idea that our community helping systems are utterly inappropriate settings for market-based decision-making.
            Spiritual principles need to form the foundation of all of our work at building healthy communities. Community solutions demand community collaboration built on spiritual principles. These principles offer our only hope for creating a positive vision and shaking us out of our old patterns, the ones embodied in our dysfunctional helping systems, and providing a new and hopeful sense of direction. Our attempts to re-engineer the existing system have not been powerful enough to get us out of the competitive, market-based mindset.
            The advantage of this approach is that it calls upon the strong spiritual nature of those in the helping system and their capacity to operate from a place of appreciation, acceptance, compassion, and interdependence. This is a well of spiritual goodness that we do not usually tap. For society and the helping system, it provides endless energy. For individuals, it prevents burnout.

Six serious limiting factors in our helping system

            Over the next few Collaborative Solutions Newsletters, I will address six serious limiting factors in our helping system that I believe are holding us back from reaching our full potential. I will also show how applying spiritual principles to these issues can make the difference between success and failure.
            My perspective on the nonprofit helping system comes from working in the system for over 40 years at all levels—as a line staff member, a manager, an executive director, a board member, and most recently a trainer and consultant. Because I’ve seen the system from so many angles and for so many years, I now think of myself as having the view that I would get by flying at 10,000 feet over a community and observing how it works. The problems I see are not caused by bad people doing bad things, but by a system that has responded to social forces and wandered far from its intended role.

Here are the six issues that we need to address and that I will be discussing:

  1. We have overemphasized the deficits in our communities.
  2. We have lost social change and social justice as our goal.
  3. Our nation continues to be dominated by racism and our helping systems are characterized by a lack of cultural competence.
  4. Our helping systems suffer from professional dominance. Our communities are not driving the process of fixing their own problems.
  5. The dominance of professionals has also led to another pernicious aspect of our helping system: competition
  6. We have lost our spiritual purpose.

            As a result of these limitations, we continue to fail in our attempts to solve major problems facing our communities and our nation. We need new ways, at a higher level, to overcome these limitations. We need to find new resources that will give us the strength to build healthy communities.
            As I think about how a helping system might be designed in the future, I find it useful to map a course suggested by spiritual principles. Over the last decade, I have been deeply engaged in pursuit of spiritual understandings of life. I have found that non-religious spiritual principles—such as compassion, interdependence, appreciation, and deep acceptance—open up my way of understanding many issues and lead the way to change. The path I have been following has many branches, and the insights I have developed on this journey support each other in intriguing and useful ways. Judaism, which is part of my personal heritage, has in recent years become a rich discovery for me as a spiritual practice. I participate in weekly Jewish meditation services and a monthly Jewish spiritual study group.
            In addition, for more than a decade I have participated in meditation and philosophy classes offered by Ellen Tadd, a nationally recognized teacher and clairvoyant (Mayer, 2007). The ideas I have been introduced to by Ellen and her guides have deeply influenced my work.
            My spiritual studies and practices have led to new questions and possibilities in many aspects of my life, including a new look at my work in social change. After 9/11, I initiated and participated in an interfaith study group on spirituality and social change. We asked ourselves the following big, two-sided question: “How does our spirituality inform our work in social change, and how does our work in social change inform our spirituality?” Seven years later, this group is still meeting. We continue our struggle to understand how these components—spirituality and social change — interact within our lives and our work.
            My participation in the interfaith group has brought me some personal clarity, but has even more strongly reinforced my need to find (or make) settings where I can continue this fascinating discussion, which I would now like to open up to the readers of this newsletter..
            I suggest that spiritual principles such as compassion, interdependence, appreciation, and deep acceptance—by themselves and combined—may offer us a fresh perspective in looking at the issues facing the nonprofit helping system. As we chart a new course, we inevitably face questions like, “What is our vision and what do we value?” Where value questions are involved, spiritual principles can provide direction.

Six Critical Issues for Our Helping Systems and New Directions Suggested by Spiritual Principles

Issue 1: We have overemphasized the deficits in our communities.

            Twenty years ago, I first read and heard John McKnight’s critique of the formal helping systems that I had been a part of throughout my career. I found his analysis to be powerfully critical, highly disturbing, and very accurate in its description of the way the helping system went about doing its business.
            McKnight’s perceptions opened my eyes to the realization that helpers love deficits. In fact, the entire helping industry is built on deficits. The more deficits (or needy people) we have in our communities and the more problems (deficits) each individual has, the more work we helpers have in front of us. We helpers love to be needed, and nothing shows we are needed better than the deficits of people and communities. It’s also true that the longer our waiting lists are, the easier it is for us to plead for more funds. For those of us who have gone into helping professions because we really do want to make the world a better place, it can be hard to accept our reliance on seeing, labeling, and treating the negative.
            McKnight warned that the professional human service approach can “push out the problem solving knowledge and actions of friend, neighbor, citizen and association.”  He further suggested that as the “power of professionals and service systems ascends, the legitimacy, authority and capacity of citizens and community descends” (1989, p. 9).
            John McKnight’s writings challenged the ways I had been thinking and working. He offered a refreshing view both of the community and its capacities and of the helping system and its strengths and limitations. He observed, “It isn’t until the capacities of people are recognized, honored, respected and lifted up that the outside resources make much difference”(1989, p. 9). He considered the health and human service systems, which I’ve referred to as the formal helping networks, as secondary to empowering and valuing the assets and capacities of individuals and communities, or the informal networks.
            McKnight believed that “ultimate wisdom is in communities not in an expert” (1990, p. 3). He argued that America’s real strength is the “community way.” He noted that when nineteenth-century French observer Alexis de Tocqueville cast a critical eye on the newly founded United States, he observed a remarkable and praiseworthy thing: that in this country there are groups of ordinary people who get together to solve problems, and that these groups give power to citizens to make more power by solving problems.

Application of appreciation as a spiritual principle.

            So what do we do now, when, after nearly two centuries, we appear to have lost sight of one of our nation’s greatest strengths?
            For many of McKnight’s followers, the answer to the overemphasis on deficits has been to focus on assets. Viewing the strengths of individuals and communities does allow us a fresh and valuable perspective. However, the assets approach now being promulgated often produces a mechanical listing of community assets. Combining an assets-oriented review with the spiritual principle of deep appreciation allows us to rethink the way we work from a more expansive point of view, one that allows us to perceive new approaches, to proceed in new directions.
            Appreciation involves accepting that which is—both the positives and negatives (Tadd). To be appreciative, one must be present and thankful. When we appreciate individuals and communities and their strengths, we celebrate what is, we acknowledge of the wonderfulness of life, and we open up our abilities to develop a feeling of unconditional love for everyone and everything in every situation.
            To love everyone unconditionally is a tall order. The advantage of basing our responses to problems on spiritual principles is not that this approach yields easy solutions but that it sets a clear direction and intentionality for the solutions we will devise.
            Applying the spiritual principle of deep loving appreciation to the overemphasis on deficits allows us to step back and examine our own roles, the roles of our agencies, and the roles of the overall helping systems in our community with regard to the issues at hand. When we approach our communities with the idea of appreciation in mind, do we see things differently? Do new approaches suggest themselves? Do new ways of organizing our services appear? Do new ways of looking at the community’s residents emerge?
            Imagine approaching your own community from a place of deep appreciation of its strengths, its assets, and even its shortcomings.

Community Story

            A story may help us see what the application of appreciation may look like.
In one low-income Latino community, a community center I was working with was beginning a community-building effort. Members of the organizing group started with door-to-door visits to homes in the neighborhood, building toward a community meeting. They hoped that this meeting would bring together residents who would form an ongoing group that would work with the community center to address local issues.
            When the meeting occurred, at one point we organizers asked the participants to break into small groups and respond to an inquiry typically used to identify assets: What did they like about their neighborhood? What were their neighborhood’s strengths? As the large group reconvened to compare the small groups’ findings and the aspects of the community that people liked were recorded on newsprint for everyone to see, the whole group broke out in raucous applause. Most of them had never heard anyone say anything positive about their neighborhood. Hearing each group catalog strengths and seeing those good things written down was an important experience for the people in that room: this was not just a listing of assets; this activity displayed a sense of deep appreciation for the place where they lived.

How can we make all asset listings be this appreciative?

Issue 2: We have lost social change and social justice as our goal.

            I was recently presenting my thoughts on the limitations of our present helping system at grand rounds at a medical school on the West Coast when an audience member who was about my age stated, with passion, that when she started her career social justice had been a primary motivation for people who worked in human services, but now that source of inspiration seems to have disappeared. Her observation struck me as obvious but profound, and I quickly agreed. The evolution has been slow and sometimes imperceptible, but the dominant concern of our helping system and of the people in that system has shifted from issues of social justice to the provision of services, billable hours, and reimbursable events. This may not be true for new students and young workers as they enter the field, but they quickly encounter the predominant values and practices and their idealism gets shut down or goes underground.
            The present helping system focuses on helping clients adapt to bad circumstances rather than changing those circumstances. Too often, the helping system blames the victim for his or her disorder (Ryan, 1971) and fails to understand the environment and the social context, thus ignoring the root causes of the problem.
            For example, research on health indicates a huge portion of a person’s capacity for health is set by social determinants, such as income, race, and socioeconomic class. As soon as we understand how important the social determinants are, we quickly see the need to make a commitment to social change and social action in order to get the positive results that we want. Only 10 percent of an individual’s capacity for health has to do with access to health care, yet that is where we spend much of our focus.  Poverty and racism cannot be remedied by providing clinical services.
            Articles on successful nonprofits are beginning to show that working for social justice and systems change is more than “the right thing to do” in order to change our communities and get results. It is also the way to create the most ”high-impact nonprofits” (Grant and Crutchfield, 2007). The usual literature on nonprofit management success suggests that we need to look at key variables from the world of business, such as perfect management, brand-name awareness, a breakthrough new idea, textbook mission statements, high ratings on the usual business measures, and large budgets. Grant and Crutchfield’s research debunks these myths and offers alternatives to these prevailing practices. They observe that conventional wisdom for extending the reach of social innovation “starts with strengthening internal management capabilities.” On the contrary, Grant and Crutchfield’s study of twelve high-impact nonprofits “shows that real social change happens when organizations go outside their own walls and find creative ways to enlist the help of others.” By reaching out, these high-impact nonprofits “create more impact than they ever could have achieved alone. They build social movements and fields: they transform business, government, other nonprofits and individuals; and they change the world around them.” Although these outstanding organizations’ activities may begin with the provision of “great programs,” they “eventually realize that they cannot achieve large-scale social change through service delivery alone. So they add policy advocacy to acquire government resources and to change legislation.”
            The six practices that Grant and Crutchfield found to make a difference are: (1) serve and advocate; (2) make markets work; (3) inspire evangelists; (4) nurture nonprofit networks; (5) master the art of adaptation; and (6) share leadership. The fourth and sixth points—nurture nonprofit networks and share leadership—are crucial for our work in promoting collaborative solutions. Grant and Crutchfield state, “Although most nonprofits pay lip service to collaboration, many of them really see other groups as competition for scarce resources. But high-impact organizations help their peers succeed, building networks of nonprofit allies. . . .”
            The research suggests that our retreat from social justice has diminished our impact and reduced our success. When we look at the whole community as an interconnected system whose health we can improve, we open the door to a more comprehensive understanding of the issues and to broad community involvement in devising solutions.

Application of the spiritual principles of interdependency and interconnection.

            From a spiritual perspective, the answer to our failure to address root causes and to work for social change is to acknowledge the profound interconnectedness and interdependency of all beings and all systems in life.
            All life is a single system. We know this from physics, biology, ecology, and community psychology, as well as spirituality. We need to understand the interdependence of all the aspects of the lives of our clients, the interdependence of all parts of the helping system, and the interdependence of all sectors of the community. The fundamental reality of human life is interdependence, not competition. Globalization will be the ultimate teacher of the interdependence of all beings. The healing heart recognizes its interdependence with all beings; the emergence of community, in many layers and forms, is simply an embodied expression of that recognition (Gill, 2008).
            From the perspective of interdependence we cannot separate the individual from the social determinants. A complex translation of an understanding of interdependence into community work involves the awareness that any person’s present and future state is determined by a wide range of factors —often called social determinants—that have an impact on that individual’s life.
            A healthy-communities approach takes this as its basic premise. The Ottawa Charter, which provides the basis for the healthy communities movement, defines the prerequisites of health as peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice, and equity. The charter acknowledges that all these social determinants matter and that they are interconnected.
            We need to consider both the individual and the social determinants, as well as their interconnections, and then we need to focus our work on social change and social justice. The spiritual principle of interdependence is central here. It notes that everything in our world is interconnected. Each individual’s life on earth is interconnected with the lives of all others, and with the earth itself and the spiritual realm as well. We are all composed of energy, and all energy is interconnected.
            John Muir, the great naturalist, is often quoted as saying, “When we tug at a single thing in nature we find it attached to the rest of the world.” We know this is true of the natural world, and we have begun to understand how it applies in other dimensions of our lives. But there are parts of our world where we have not yet perceived the truth of this statement. When we address community issues, whether we do so as a group of residents or a group of institutions, we need to train ourselves to see how our tugging at any specific issue connects to other elements in our community and beyond. Then we need to learn how to use this interconnectedness as a source of strength.
            Many religious and spiritual traditions speak of the oneness of all beings. The new physics and new science also elucidate the interconnections between all entities. Vibrations in one part of the world affect energy levels a great distance away (Wheatley, 2006). On a practical level, people who are working to solve problems, whether they involve local, national, or global concerns, are finding success with approaches that acknowledge interconnectedness and employ it to find new answers. We hear more and more that the creative ideas of the future will emerge from work that crosses disciplines, fields, and sectors, as well as political boundaries.
            When Jim Wallis, a theological activist, was recently interviewed in the Boston Globe (Paulson, 2008), he observed that “[t]he quest for spirituality in an affluent society without the discipline of the struggle for justice becomes narcissistic, spirituality as another commodity. But the struggle for justice without being rooted in spiritual soil can become angry and tired and despairing and bitter and even violent.” We need to meld our social change work and our spirituality.

Community Story

            Let me conclude with a recent community story that illustrates the power of bringing to our work a spiritual perspectiveand specifically the spiritual principles of appreciation, interdependence, acceptance, and compassion.
            In Fitchburg, Massachusetts, the Cleghorn neighborhood has been the part of the city where new immigrant populations have often settled. It consists of about forty city blocks and accommodates approximately four thousand people. At present, the most recent arrivals are Latino and they generally live in Lower Cleghorn. The older immigrant population, having been there a few generations, is French Canadian and lives in Upper Cleghorn. The Cleghorn Neighborhood Center (CNC) has been trying to get these two communities to meet and work together. Numerous efforts to that end have been frustrating.
            Recently a new opportunity arose to achieve this goal. The city of Fitchburg elected Lisa Wong as its mayor. A 28-year-old Asian woman, she represents many “firsts” for that office, including gender, ethnicity, and remarkable youth. Taking advantage of this change in the city, the CNC invited Mayor Lisa Wong to participate in a listening session in the Cleghorn neighborhood as one of her first events. More than thirty residents, evenly split between the Latino and French Canadian populations, gathered one evening for this session with the mayor, the local city councilor, and even the head of the city council, who dropped in just to see what was happening and ended up staying for the whole evening.
            Residents sat at round tables and answered four questions. They sat where they wished, so four of the five tables were composed of residents from the same ethnic group and only one table was mixed. First the participants ate, of course, and then they addressed the questions. After each question, the groups reported their results and the mayor responded to indicate that she had heard what they said—not to propose solutions. Remember, this was just a listening session. The session was translated, using headsets and a translator. The four questions were:

  1. What do you like most about living/working in Cleghorn?
  2. What do you like least about living/working in Cleghorn?
  3. What would make Cleghorn a healthier and better place to live and/or work?
  4. What would you be willing to do to make this happen?

            So what happened? In response to the question “What do you like best?” the French Canadian tables said they liked having family and friends surrounding them, to whom they could turn. When it came time for the Latino community to respond, they said essentially the same thing. What a surprise to both groups to see that each group placed its highest value on exactly the same thing (although, of course, they referred to different sets of families and friends).This question spun off into cautious yet explicit talk about the cultural gaps between the two groups and how there were not enough places for them to meet.
            Both groups also responded similarly to the question “What do you like least?”—traffic safety for the children, vandalism, and general safety in the streets.
            And finally the groups were able to identify mutual issues that they wished to work on. They then created work groups, each of which was composed of members of both populations, on traffic safety; neighborhood safety; and bringing back the community fair with both populations present; and they also set up a planning group to design the next listening session with the mayor, to take place in three months. The evening ended with a hearty round of handshakes and introductions. The mayor was an enthusiastic participant, an excellent listener, and a great supporter of the emerging cooperation. By the next morning a resident from Upper Cleghorn had come to the center to volunteer the use of the materials and equipment, including booths, that had been part of the summer fairs in the past.
            One can see this as a wonderful example of promoting a community’s understanding of its interdependence and interconnectivity, while bringing to the surface acceptance, appreciation, and compassion among and between two populations. The sequence of events clearly illustrated the interdependence of these groups who live in such close proximity. All these spiritual principles were an intentional part of the thinking and designing of the session. They brought the gathering to a higher level than it would have reached otherwise and created a supportive and productive environment for building community.

Conclusion, until the next time
            In the martial arts, the actual practice of skills and movement is preceded by moments of centering, grounding, and focus.  We can learn from this for our work at community change. We might try beginning our meetings with moments of silence and meditation, where the participants all hold what is best for the community in their intentionality and focus upon the principles of appreciation, acceptance, sense of interdependence, and compassion.
            My work and that of many communities and colleagues around the globe, on numerous issues, convinces me that collaboration based on spiritual principles is a powerful force for creating healthy communities. It’s not easy, but it’s much easier and so much more rewarding than staying stuck. What we need now is some clear guidance about how to go about the collaborative process in a way that leads to successful community change.
            More questions than answers emerge in the application of spiritual principles to our community work. Exactly what do we mean by a spiritual principle? How will we know it is being applied? What’s the difference between an assets approach with appreciation and one without? And what’s the difference between a social change action based on spiritual principles and one that is not?
            My hope is to help launch us into these questions and for us all to be part of the learning that will emerge. I look forward to that exchange.
            Abraham Joshua Heschel, a wonderful rabbi, scholar, and activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, talked of the need for “moral grandeur and spiritual audacity” (1996). What a great call that is for us on these issues today.
            My next Collaborative Solutions Newsletter will continue this discussion by looking at the remaining four limitations and potential spiritual principles that can be applied to them. I am interested in an open-hearted exchange of ideas in an ongoing conversation about this topic with groups and individuals across the country, both to share my thoughts and to see how others see this issue.
            To succeed, this will need to be a shared enterprise. I welcome your reactions to this piece. Send them to . Peace and thanks. Tom
            My special thanks to Arthur Himmelman, Bill Berkowitz, Gillian Kaye, Ted Slovin, Peggy Wolff, and my valued editor Deb Robson for their help with this newsletter. Setting out on the path of writing about spirituality and social change demanded lots of critique and support, which I have received from these valuable folk.


            Gill, Penny. Manuscript channeled from a teacher who names himself Manjushri. 2008.
            Grant, Heather McLeod, and Leslie R. Crutchfield. “Creating High-Impact Nonprofits.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2007. .
            Heschel, Abraham Joshua, and Susannah Heschel. Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays. New York: Noonday Press, 1996
            Kaiser, Leland R. “Spirituality and the Physician Executive: Reconciling the Inner Self and the Business of Health Care.” The Physician Executive 26, no. 2 (March/April 2000). .
            Mayer, Elizabeth Lloyd. Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind. New York: Bantam, 2007
McKnight, John. “Do No Harm: Policy Options That Meet Human Needs.” Social Policy 20, no. 1 (Summer 1989): 5–15.
            McKnight, John. Address to the New Haven Foundation, New Haven, Connecticut, November 1990.
"Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, The." WHO Regional Publications. European Series. 44 (1992): 1–7.
            Paulson, Michael. “Q and A with Jim Wallis: An Increasingly Influential Religious Leader Explains Why Evangelicals Should Worry Less about Abortion and Gay Marriage, and More about the Poor.” The Boston Globe, February 17, 2008: D4.
            Ryan, William. Blaming the Victim. New York: Pantheon, 1971.
Tadd, Ellen. Class in Meditation and Philosophy. Contact: .
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. [New York]: New American Library, 1956 [1835].
            Wheatley, Margaret J. Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2006.

What is new at Tom Wolff & Associates:

New Frontiers – Community Directories on the Web Using New Technology

            I am sure we have all had the frustrating experience of creating service directories for our communities. Soon after we have them printed, we discover they are already out of date. With the onset of the digital age, we have moved these directories to the web but have not yet solved the issue of keeping them updated and useful.
            Now one community I am working with has brought the idea of community resource directories to a whole new level.
            In Holyoke, the community has mobilized with the leadership of Enlace de Familias and created Holyoke Unites/Holyoke Se Une, whose mission is “to create shared participation and leadership opportunities among the people who live and work in Holyoke to build a more vibrant, safe, and healthy community. Together we can improve the well-being of everyone.”
            One of the first acts of Holyoke Unites/Holyoke Se Une was to form a Web Work Group to create a web-based directory. This group searched for earlier Holyoke web directories and also for model directories across the country. After they did not turn up much, they created their own design. Luckily they received enormous technical help from faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students at the Commonwealth College at the University of Massachusetts. The end product is amazing and moves the concept of community directories up a notch.

This new web directory has some traditional options:

    • Listing of agencies by name
    • Listing of agencies by service type
    • Calendars

And then some innovations:

    • Listings of coalitions and task forces
    • Google maps to help people locate the agencies
    • Sub-calendars by category—for example, youth, family, seniors, etc.
    • Links to the agencies’ web sites

And some very unique features:

    • Search engine for topics and words across the site
    • English and Spanish versions with separate URLs

And finally the pièce de résistance:

    • Log-in capacity so that agencies can get passwords and log in to update their own listings and add events to the calendar

            This last feature takes the concept of joint responsibility, which is a cornerstone of community collaboration, and translates it into the maintenance functions of the web site.
            If a particular page of the website is out of date, that is the sole responsibility of the agency itself, not of some central body.
            We would love to hear from other communities where members have also created innovative web directories.

New chapter by Tom Wolff in book : Community Psychology in Practice

Tom Wolff, “My Life as a Community Activist”

In James G. Kelly and Anna V. Song, Community Psychology in Practice: An Oral History through the Stories of Five Community Psychologists. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, v. 35, no. 1. New York: Haworth Press: 2008, pages 61–80.

The author recounts his life as a social justice activist and community psychology practitioner. He shares his upbringing, family, and education and his experiences working in a variety of settings. The story shows an evolution from working with individuals to working with whole communities, from working on issues of remediation to working on prevention and finally focusing on empowerment, social change, and social justice. Parallels are drawn between his life and the social issues of the time. The author recounts the questions that emerged as his life and career developed: Can my work in psychology relate to larger social issues? Can I find a setting that will allow me to work to create social change and reduce oppression? How can our spirituality inform our work for social change?

Two-Day Coalition-Building Training in Lisbon, Portugal, June 2 & 3, 2008

Second International Community Psychology Conference

Tom Wolff will offer an:
Institute on Community Coalitions: Building Healthy Communities through Collaborative Solutions

This will be a two-day Training Institute on collaborative solutions and coalition building for those with many years of experience in coalition building as well as those just starting out. The Institute will be a mix of experiential and lecture formats with exercises and problem-solving sessions.

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