Theories and dreams for whole systems community transformation

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 17:27.

Over the years I've valued RealNEO as a place to share diverse writings ranging from simple sustainability strategies we can inculcate into our regular lives to grandiose and futuristic visions of entire new worlds crafted within our own. I take pride in being with this team and community since inception and contributing our website's taxonomy and providing engaging content.  I've even found the opportunity to express myself more artistically through poetry. At much risk, and at times, with controversial unabashed candor I've shared personal hardships and anguish - and I can now say doing so has only enriched my personal development on physical, emotional and spiritual planes. 

Nearly everything I've written or posted seems to explore and share common themes which mean so much to me personally because they help define my own dreams and passions for uplifting underprivileged communities, moving to more generative and life-enriching ways of being, and inspiring the masses to embrace a more enlightened, socially conscious, and transcendent philosophy which I feel is ultimately necessary to better the human condition and transform quality of life for all of our planet's stakeholders.  Reviewing the three desired outcomes above, it becomes readily apparent that they can best be facilitated by taking a holistic and integrated approach to systems transformation.  By integrating my own posts into a cohesive and transformative whole I realize that the bold strokes of a comprehensive and sustainable community development strategy begins to emerge.  Such methodological theory and pedagogy, I feel, can provide remarkably innovative and potent applications for social change and positive transformation of communities.  So it is with great pleasure that I announce the illuminating realization of my life's goal - to align these passions for transformative positive change in such a way that defines my own career and life path.  For in the end - we should all be so lucky - to realize absolutely what we wish to accomplish with our lives and ensure happiness by doing the work we love.   


I thank RealNEO and this community first because it has been so influential in coming to this present moment, one in which I can feel problems, trials, difficulties, stigmas all melt away.  To feel at peace with one's self and the world is a truly special thing.  It generates an opportunity to think and be an entirely new way and stay this course despite criticism or ridicule.  Embracing a philosophy of radical honesty and authentic living is not the status quo.  Neither is transcending the individual ego in such a manner that retains strength, confidence, and dignity to create endless new possibilities.  The logic seems counterintuitive and the topic 'spiritually nebulous' at first.  But ultimately we serve ourselves best when we seek to more selflessly serve and enrich others - when we look not only from a selfish personal lens but take a transcendent and transformational systems-view of the situations and challenges we face.  What we can come to realize is a system in which the heightened sensitivity, service and sharing of stakeholders ultimately augments the condition of all stakeholders.  To put it another way, we build a positive spiral of energy - and the resulting synergies can uplift and drive the system to unprecedented and perhaps incredible outcomes.   Who can argue that the quest for sustainability of our planet has been dominated by eye-opening doomsday prophecy yet followed up with lackluster and mediocre effort?  We know there are behaviors and strategies that require immediate implementation and inculcation on legislative, corporate, and societal levels that should drill down to the very way we live our lives.  Several brave souls have led by example in this regard and a major breakthrough has finally facilitated the global conundrum into the mainstream media - celebrity and political champions have helped achieve this through film and example-setting.  Yet the truest challenge lies ahead - we can no longer afford a nonchalant approach defined by half measures and token gestures.  Radical change is necessary in order for us to simply sustain the quality of life we all enjoy now.   


So what better strategy to embrace and research question to pursue with my life's work - initially as an academic and researcher during doctoral study and ultimately as a consultant, teacher and writer?  That hypothesis and proposed strategy was the same I proposed at Weatherhead five years ago whilst fulfilling MBA requirements - It is possible to uplift and transform (often underprivileged) community systems through the integration of innovative sustainability strategies.  Environmentally enriching, organic, and natural processes are the surest means to successful community development the same way organic nutrition and creative natural playspace gardens positively impact individual well-being.  After all, both are systems that are fed inputs and derive outcomes - naturally nurturing both should transform both levels of system. And if we achieve a transformative level of social change we can positively shift quality of life for all system stakeholders. We need to make change happen by interevening at multiple levels of system and enriching these integratively.


Now living at the fringe of University Circle just at the border between Case Campus and East Cleveland I couldn't feel better positioned to help drive efforts forward.  As presented years prior in pieces like Envision East Cleveland and just recently at Cleveland Bioneers the immediate opportunity to demonstrate the most radically positive transformation in history lies before us.  And like the prior presentations presupposed - we can implement traditional strategies like collaborative community gardening, creative physical and mental education, and new urbanism (Traditional Neighborhood Development) to facilitate healthier and more economically vibrant places to  build a foundational fabric.  And then we can truly inspire and excite the masses that enjoy these individual and environmental health benefits to increase learning capacities and create resource opportunities that shift focus from concern and fear for individual survival and family well being to a more enlightened community-serving focus.  Once stakeholders are better enabled, empowered, and enthused to serve one another system components can synergistically feed one another. Faith communities that are so plentiful in East Cleveland could play such a critical role here, in driving a service philosophy rooted in ethical integrity.  A progressive culture of continually sharing, caring, and working together continually builds as a result.  I feel the most exciting and transformational opportunities can then accelerate progress - social innovations so progressive they transform communities by their very nature. I've proposed several such social innovation enterprises myself.  These revolutionary implementations, for lack of a better word, can then propel a community to model status on a global scale.  Such are the makings of economic windfalls and magnets for international attention, visitation, inclusion and migration. 


The vision has always been bold and the research question posed ever pertinent - the challenges have been resource-based, behavior-based, and leadership-based historically.  They will always remain.  However I've individually never felt more enabled or empowered to work toward the elusive transformative outcomes envisioned.  Past problems and difficulties have melted away on the individual system level for me personally.  New resources and exciting opportunities and new proximity have reinvigorated my passion to help drive these outcomes and partner intimately and enigmatically with those that share this vision.  This is the time for smart planning and efficient execution.  Thanks to founder Norm Roulet and other REALNEO contributors the Star Intergenerational Complex vision awaits the infusion of resources to drive manifestation.  A vision for an East Cleveland Observer - an impactful local newspaper - is in the works. I've procured several thousands of dollars in computer equipment and office furnishings to manifest the Star computing cluster and Star incubator portions of the vision.  We've held important tours and meetings at the Hough Bakery building thanks to the accommodation of the amazing Williams family.  We've made compelling appeals to potential funders like the Cleveland Foundation and worked hard to justify and incite investment.  I feel the immediate challenge is to expedite and manifest desired outcomes by securing the investments we lack, building resources we need by compelling volunteerism and community involvement, and self-generating sustainable revenue streams that enable progress.  We need to create incubator rental revenue, generate advertising revenue, reap revenues from NEW social enterprise models, etc.  These are immediately necessary to either enable self funding of the project or further win or compel funding through justification of viability and project success.  

As for immediate next steps, I think we should drill down with our collective planning and build on the foundational proposal and vision to articulate a concise yet detailed business plan.  We can thus play with realistic proforma projections and demonstrate the full ROI of these efforts.  Ultimately we'll be able to demonstrate that such a transformative commercial development will generate significant financial and social ROI outcomes.   In total, there exists no better environs for field study, action research, and transformational capacity building than East Cleveland.  I can only offer my personal pledge to drive forward as an individual and volunteer bent on building a community, implementing innovation, and facilitating positive change.  I can best do so by leveraging my skills as a writer, scholar, and facilitator.  I hope to leverage my training in Gestalt, Systems Theory, and Appreciative Inquiry to build system capacities and synergies over time in communities. In addition to contributing new knowledge and unprecedented ideas toward positive change, I hope to leverage my MBA training to capture the full value of social entrepreneurship and realize the opportunity to do good whilst doing well.  We can ultimately better the human condition by maximizing positive social and financial returns and mitigating risk and cost through a shared synergistic approach.  An organizational and social change theory I pioneered in 2004 to win the Thompson Hine award at Research ShowCASE may help get us there. 

On this day, January 13, 2008, I renew a longstanding pledge to these ideals in preparation for and continuing far beyond my doctoral pursuits.  I'll continue to break down theory developed and applied page by page regularly right here on REALNEO.  I feel this will result in an intriguing, informative, and illuminating book or series of books over time.

Hope to see many of you tomorrow at the Pearl Rd Branch of the Cleveland public library at the REALNEO training session ! Peace.