Community Weaving Model and Seven Field Principles Model:
Two Confluent Holistic Models for Social Transformation
The Two Major Maladies of Our Culture
Our culture, and indeed our world, is suffering from two major sets of maladies; one set is psychological or of the soul and spirit, and the other is material and economic.
The Psycho-Spiritual Malady includes:
- the erosion of the sense of self-worth;
- people feeling dispensable and replaceable, and that what they can offer has questionable value;
- a pervasive sense of alienation; cynicism and lack of inspiration and guidance among many of our young people;
- generalized fear, anger, helplessness and insecurity in a social milieu of accelerating change which daily becomes more unpredictable and uncertain.
- The Economic Malady includes:
- the inequitable accessibility to and distribution of resources to meet basic needs of the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised members of our human family;
- the uncertainty of income continuity for the typical family;
- the monetization of family life functions such as day care for children and elder care for adults;
- the fact that fewer people are willing to share what they have with others.
The decline of the extended family, the disintegration of neighborhoods and fragmented service delivery systems have all made it difficult for families to find solutions to their problems. We believe this is exacerbated by the way services are currently being delivered. Due to Welfare Reform, social service systems are having a significant problem in tracking available resources and the people qualified by government regulations to receive them. First line social workers are challenged in identifying and accessing the resources needed to serve their clients. And often, that important element—the human connection—is missing from the social service system. Social workers typically carry caseloads that make it impossible for them to provide the length and quality of time their clients need. These problems exist in varying degrees in all levels of society, from the homeless and the poor upward toward the wealthy and affluent. The structure of family has changed. In many cases it has become tattered and ragged, without a sense of family identity.
The Whole Systems Approach to Social Maladies:
Community Weaving and the Seven Field Principles Model
There is a unitive philosophical assumption which drives Community Weaving (CW) and the Seven Field Principles Model (SFPM), and it is this: the assumption that the individual is more than a mere stimulus/response mechanism which must be manipulated by command/control authorities.
Both models embrace the principle that people are essentially psycho-spiritual beings who have the inherent potential for real and lasting inner growth and character development. Every individual, regardless of where they may currently be situated on the socioeconomic ladder, has this potential for growth and change. Therefore, the worth of the individual should not be judged as limited to, nor identified as being his/her current status in society.
This assumption is counter to the prevailing social sciences models based on pure behavioral principles which essentially deny the existence of the immortal spiritual element in man, and which rely on exterior control and reward/punishment methodologies to shape behavior according to the predetermined norms deemed to be valid outcomes. An excellent case could be made that such soulless models for managing culture (the application of physical science to inform social science) are among the main causes of our current crises today. When humans are regarded by mainstream sociologists and psychologists as clay to be shaped by behavioral conditioning, the spontaneity, creativity, sense of self and inner freedom will inevitably be diminished. This will cause the individuals in such a culture to think and behave more like automatons than as living, free human beings.
Community Weaving and the Seven Field Principles Model are working to change this dehumanization of our culture by creating conditions whereby individuals may acquire a strong sense of selfhood, become resilient and strong for the challenges they must face, creatively work together to self-organize and address problems, and—most important of all—love one another. One might say that the CW and SFPM models enable individuals and communities to move up the ladder of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Dr. Abraham Maslow established what was, for his time, a new view of man in the field of psychology which he called Third Force Psychology. Maslow posited that a comprehensive theory of behavior must include the internal determinants along with the external ones for a psychology to be whole. He developed a Hierarchy of Needs theory which, stated briefly, says that after Basic Needs (air, water, food, shelter, sleep, sex) are satisfied, the individual continues up the ladder to Safety and Security, then to Love and Belongingness, then to Self-Esteem and Esteem by Others. Then the individual reaches the area of the Growth Needs which include meaningfulness, self-sufficiency, effortlessness, playfulness, richness, simplicity, order, justice, completion, perfection, individuality, aliveness, beauty, goodness, and truth. At the pinnacle is Self-Actualization, the apotheosis of all that went before, a state in which the individual has developed sufficient inner freedom that he/she has become independent of the external stimuli for guidance and, having internalized and individualized the universal qualities of Truth, Goodness, Beauty, and Love, is himself the fountainhead of his free-willed actions in the world.
The ethos and the methodologies of Community Weaving and the Seven Principles Field Model create a field in which the potential inherent within individuals and communities may be actualized. With this actualization of truly inwardly and outwardly free human beings, there arises the condition in society wherein these free-willed spirits can, out of a universal vision of Commonwealth, self-organize to create a transformed society which need no longer be ruled by an external hierarchy.
“The single will must give way to a common will, or the Commonwealth. This can only come about with the cooperation of single wills. Each individual will must be in agreement with the content of the common will. The spirit and soul living in each individual human being must also live in the collective will of the Commonwealth. In this way the Commonwealth is able to grow in strength. Each individual must be able to act within the Commonwealth in freedom; participating in freedom.
This Commonwealth requires that every individual human being in it has an understanding of what is human. Consciousness replaces brute force of individual wills and chance born of a trading economy. A social awareness allows individual human beings to come together, in freedom, to plan what is best for the whole community. Personal strivings give way to cooperation. All individual human beings involved then benefit by a healthier Commonwealth.” --Rudolf Steiner, The Social Future, Chap. 5
How the CW and SFPM models can facilitate this social transformation will be explained in due course.
Characteristics of the Two Models
The Seven Field Principles Model
The Seven Field Principles Model (SFPM) was developed by Dr. Carl Bell as a result of many years of psychiatric practice in the social services arena. Although the SFPM is focused primarily upon addressing the health needs and psychosocial needs of children, SFPM embodies principles which are universal in scope and therefore lends itself to a multitude of applications in society.
SFPM, as Dr. Bell states, “is informed by the Triadic Theory of Influence.” SFPM consists of the following seven principles and their sub-principles :
- Rebuilding the village/Constructing social fabric.
- Providing access to modern technology. (Most folk think of technology as things, but modern technologies are also skills such as classroom management, multiple family groups, etc.)
- Improving bonding, attachment, & connectedness dynamics.
a. A sense of power - , ie. a sense of self-efficacy or competence to do what the must, the resources required to effectively express their competence, and the opportunity to use their competence to influence important circumstances of their lives.
b. A sense of models - , i.e. be able to refer to human, philosophical, and operational models to help them make sense of the world.
c. A sense of uniqueness - , i.e., acknowledge and respect the qualities and characteristics about themselves that are special and different, and they must receive confirmation from other people that those qualities and characteristic are important and good.
d. A sense of connectedness - i.e. able to gain satisfaction from people, places or things that they feel connected to in their lives.
- Improving self esteem.
- Increasing social and emotional skills of target recipients.
- Reestablishing the adult protective shield and monitoring.
- Minimizing the residual effects of trauma.
The Community Weaving Model
Community Weaving (CW) was started by Cheryl Honey, who was then a mother avoiding welfare and who was faced with having to contend with the unmet needs of herself and her four children—needs which the formal social service system was unable for various reasons to furnish her family. She took the initiative to organize her neighbors into a family support network in her neighborhood. Over the years her fledgling organization of local neighbors grew into a nationally recognized citizen participation and poverty reduction approach underpinned by asset-based community development (ABCD), family support, and self-organizing principles which improves the lives of everyone involved, giver and receiver alike. Community Weaving has expanded into over 100 communities and 7 countries around the world. Volunteers have spearheaded efforts that contributed nearly 500,000 hours in the past fifteen years to help their neighbors in need. Some have provided direct services to referrals from local agencies, while others have initiated efforts to improve conditions in their neighborhoods. Community Weaving volunteers continue to network with one another, organize neighborhood gatherings, special events, humanitarian efforts and family fun activities.
The CW process has surfaced an enormous treasure of untapped resources in the communities where it is active. Previously, those communities did not realize what resources they had, because there wasn't enough “connective tissue” to link families and organizations together. Community Weaving almost magically changed that.
For example, families have banded together and created a network of Safe Havens for people displaced by hardship, crisis or disaster. Teenagers have escaped being absorbed into gangs by living with trained host families in a different neighborhood. Collaborations have formed over time with the American Red Cross, social services and businesses.
There are cases where the electric companies referred families in danger of having their electricity shut off and Good Neighbors (a term to be explained later) loaned them power from their own homes through use of extension cords. The ARC has referred people displaced by disasters to Community Weavers for temporary housing and support, and for help in navigating the system to get back on their feet.
Clients of local social service organizations are empowered by the resources made available to them through Community Weaving. Also, social service caseworkers and other agencies utilize the CW network to enhance their services to their clients and motivate them toward self-sufficiency. The CW network saves the caseworkers precious time and enhances their capacity to serve more clients efficiently and effectively.
The Community Weaving model is driven by the understanding that most every individual has a natural desire to help his neighbor and to enhance the quality of his own life, provided he is given the freedom to do so. And experience has shown that this is indeed true. CW operates at the grassroots level in a flat, non-hierarchical framework that enables individuals to freely give and freely receive deeds of love.
The basic unit of the CW network is the Good Neighbor, who registers with the network and lists the resources (time, skills, equipment, etc.) he/she is willing to offer. Next is the Family Advocate, one who takes the necessary training for, and agrees to manage small ad hoc projects which enlist a group of Good Neighbors and resources needed to accomplish the project. Community Weavers are individuals who receive training in expanding and strengthening the CW social network and who take on the management of larger projects involving several Family Advocates and Good Neighbors.
Also please see Community Weaving as described in The Change Handbook: