The four steps are:
We have learned that the most effective way to understand our community is to listen to people and encourage them to articulate their needs, concerns, and challenges, as well as their hopes and dreams. Listening also allows us to develop trusting relationships, which is key to working together cooperatively. We carefully develop open-ended interview questions that give permission to people to dream the impossible. We do our listening through one-on-one interviews and round table discussions.
When we solicit information from people in the community, we have a responsibility to treat it with respect. Reflecting on what we have learned from our listening is, therefore, a critical component of our process. We pay special attention to moral imperatives that are implicit in people’s stories. We take their hopes and dreams seriously and try to weave them into a larger vision that can be shared by the leadership of the city.
Our reports are a way of mirroring the city back to itself, providing an overview of its resources and challenges. They also give a voice to the voiceless. Reports may be in the form of a publication, a resource handbook, or a website. They are based on data gathered from interviews, round table discussions, statistical surveys and other collected information. To date we have prepared the following reports:
- Experiencing Pasadena: The Needs, Promises, And Tasks Of An American City (1984)
- Growing Up In Pasadena: What Are Our Children Telling Us? (1986)
- The Health Of Pasadena’s Children: An Assessment Of Needs And Resources (1988)
- The Health Resources Handbook (1991; revised 1995)
- Schoolsout.org (revised 2008) An Internet website
When we interview people we find that often they are unaware of others’ efforts on similar issues. Bringing people together to a common table provides them with opportunities to develop trusting relationships, to build on existing strengths, and to work together toward creative solutions. We create an environment, often around a meal, that facilitates the sharing of stories, hopes and visions. It is then our responsibility to hold up a common vision and to inspire participants to think for the whole city by sharing resources, rather than duplicating efforts, in serving the wellbeing of others.
This process has lead to several outcomes. In some cases it is the development of a program, which we incubate into a self-sustaining and separately incorporated non-profit organization. All Saints continues to be involved in these organizations through volunteer opportunities at the board of directors level, or programmatically. At other times, we oversee efforts until a leader emerges within the collaboration to take over the administration. Still other efforts continue as on-going collaborations in the city.