There are more than 7,000 groups in Cincinnati who want to better the community in one way or another. A Small Group has opened a dialogue so groups can work together – as citizens committed to change – to make Cincinnati a better place to live. The idea is simple: just opening up a discussion can change a lot for the better.
A Small Group offers powerful tools and strategies of civic possibility, civic accountability and civic commitment, thus increasing the power of associations to engage citizens in their efforts.
ASG’s work is based on the work of Robert Putnam and John McKnight: That healthy democratic communities grow out of high civic engagement, with a high focus on the gifts and strengths of the communities and its citizens. It uses the Six Conversations from Peter Block’s Community: The Structure of Belonging. Changing the conversation among citizens shifts the community toward high civic engagement and eventually shifts the paradigm:
- Good government does not create civic engagement; rather, government is a reflection of the citizenry. For example, good elected officials and effective police are the result of a positive civil society.
- Health equity for all is not just the domain of health professionals, but ultimately comes from citizens taking responsibility for their own health and the health of others.
- Active citizens create a strong local economy.
- Parents, communities and active institutions create educational equity and student achievement. We do not need better school management, different pay systems or more teacher evaluations. We have great teachers. We have to decide to support them.
- The media does not create the public debate – they are a reflection of the conversation we have chosen to have. Our silence and passivity creates the space for the media to profit from the woundedness of community.
- More money and better leadership do not give us the community we desire. Our leaders and professionals in health care, government, education and business are doing what they can to help. The next step forward will come from more engaged citizens.
It is the citizens’ connection to one another that needs to shift.
There is a meeting in Cincinnati on the first Friday of each month, and a day-long Intensive Learning Opportunity three times a year. For a deeper understanding of how this network of citizens is creating a different future for their city, watch Peter’s video, visit the ASG website or check out the group’s virtual place to experience ASG conversations.
Adapted by permission from A Small Group http://www.asmallgroup.net/pages/content/index.html.