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Action Learning for Community Development

Yesterday, the RealitySeeker group met to continue our study of community development. At this meeting, we experimented with action learning, a suggestion from Michelle Holliday, Author of “The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World.”

Action learning is a process that involves small groups working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as a community. It helps communities develop creative, flexible and successful strategies to pressing problems.

We began by reviewing the five characteristics of the action learning process: (from Wikipedia)

  1. A real problem that is important, critical, and usually complex,

  2. A diverse problem-solving team or "set,”

  3. A process that promotes curiosity, inquiry, and reflection,

  4. A requirement that talk be converted into action and, ultimately, a solution, and

  5. A commitment to learning.

There were a half dozen participants in attendance. Our interpretation of the process was to follow the first step and have each participant explain a real problem or a personal goal. The goals could be either personal development goals or community development goals. Then, after everyone had shared their goals, we invited a volunteer to workshop their problem with the group.

Every group member asked the volunteer questions to try to probe elements of the problem solving process that they may not have been considered in their personal belief structure. Everyone was instructed to focus on questions that were thought-provoking and encouraging to promote creative simulation, positive feelings and growth.

We learned from the process that personal development goals can be especially difficult to workshop in front of a group if not everyone knows each other well and group cohesion and trust has not been established ahead of time. It was a successful exercise, but we will take efforts to study social connectedness and social cohesion in the future.

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