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The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools for Building Healthy Communities

ISBN: 978-0-470-57958-9
320 pages
January 2010, Jossey-Bass
The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools for Building Healthy Communities (0470579587) cover image

In this groundbreaking book, Tom Wolff spells out six proven principles for creating collaborative solutions for healthy communities. The Power of Collaborative Solutions addresses contemporary social problems by helping people of diverse circumstances and backgrounds work together to solve community challenges. Filled with clear principles, illustrative stories, and practical tools, this book shows how to make lasting change really happen.

Praise for The Power of Collaborative Solutions

"This is a truly transformative book and a must-read. Tom Wolff crafts a path to change that is at once visionary and achievable."—Meredith Minkler, professor of health and social behavior, University of California, Berkeley, and coauthor, Community-Based Participatory Research for Health (Jossey-Bass, 2008

"If you want to bring about sustained positive change in your community, read this book. The stories will inspire you, and the lessons will shine a light on your leadership path."—Tyler Norris, founding president, Community Initiatives

"Here you'll find not just theory, but also the hard-won, down-to-earth detail on how to make collaboration work where you live and act." —Bill Berkowitz, professor emeritus of psychology, University of Massachusetts Lowell

"Tom has a tremendous fount of knowledge, and he knows just what to do with it and how to help others use it. His kind and commonsensical manner means that his intellect is accessible."—Linda Bowen, executive director, Institute for Community Peace, Washington, D.C.

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Web Contents ix

Foreword xi

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xxi

The Author xxiii

Chapter 1: Why Collaborative Solutions? How Our Helping Systems Are Failing Us 1

Community Solutions Demand a New, Collaborative Approach 3

How Our Traditional Community Problem-Solving Methods Fail 4

What Does This Tell Us, and What Do We Do Next? 21

Chapter 2: Building Healthy Communities Through Collaborative Solutions: An Overview of Six Key Principles 25

1. Encourage True Collaboration as the Form of Exchange 26

2. Engage the Full Diversity of the Community, Especially Those Most Directly Affected 27

3. Practice Democracy and Promote Active Citizenship and Empowerment 28

4. Employ an Ecological Approach That Builds on Community Strengths 29

5. Take Action by Addressing Issues of Social Change and Power on the Basis of a Common
Vision 31

6. Engage Spirituality as Your Compass for Social Change 32

Community Story: The Cleghorn Neighborhood Center 33

Chapter 3: Encouraging True Collaboration 43

Networking 44

Coordination 45

Cooperation 46

Collaboration 48

Learning to Collaborate: Risks, Resources, Rewards, and Responsibilities 50

What If . . . 51

Community Story: The North Quabbin Community Coalition 53

Chapter 4: Engaging the Full Diversity of the Community 67

Mini-Grants 72

Leadership Development 73

Community Outreach Workers 75

Community Organizers 76

Experiment with Simple Options to Engage Community Members 77

Community Story: The Mayor’s Task Force on Deinstitutionalization 83

Chapter 5: Practicing Democracy 95

How Much Participation Do We Want? 98

How Do We Encourage Democratic Participation? 102

More Ways to Support the Practice of Democracy 105

Community Story: Valuing Our Children 109

Chapter 6: Employing an Ecological Approach That Builds on Community Strengths 123

Assets and Deficits 126

Setting the Stage to Move from Assets to Action 128

Healthy Communities: A Model Ecological Approach 131

Healthy Communities in Action 135

Community Stories: The Northern Berkshire  Community Coalition and The Lower/Outer Cape Community Coalition 138

Community Story: The Institute for Community Peace and The Santa Barbara Pro-Youth Coalition 147

Chapter 7: Taking Action and Working for Social Change 155

Key Factors for Coalitions in Successfully Creating Community Change 156

Creating a Common Vision 157

Community Action to Create Community Change 157

Addressing Issues of Social Change and Power 164

Addressing Issues of Social Change in Collaborative Efforts 168

Power-Based Versus Relationship-Based Social Change 179

Barack Obama’s Election and the Future of Collaborative Solutions 181

Community Story: Health Access Networks 186

Chapter 8: Engaging Spirituality as Your Compass for Social Change 197

What Really Works? 198

The Current Helping System: How It Is Stuck and How We Can Free It 201

Overcoming the Limitations with the Help of Spiritual Principles 204

It’s Profound, It’s Not Easy . . . but It’s Within Our Reach 226

Community Story: Bringing It All Back to Earth:

The Spiritual Essence of a Regular Meeting of the North Quabbin Community Coalition 229

Conclusion 235

Appendix: Evaluation: Assessing Our Progress and Celebrating Our Success 239

Questions an Evaluation Can Help Answer 240

Community Participation in Evaluation 241

Frameworks for Evaluating Coalitions 242

Documentation and Evaluation in Action: Community Stories 247

Conclusion 264

References 265

Index 279

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Tom Wolff, Ph.D., is a community psychologist and expert committed to issues of social justice and building healthy communities through collaborative solutions. He is the founder of Tom Wolff & Associates and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. Wolff is a nationally recognized consultant on coalition building and community development, and he has a lifetime of experience training and consulting with individuals, organizations, and communities across North America and internationally.

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