connect / 2018
Connection through Council
Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by Center for Council, a project of Community Partners
To amplify the impact of the LA2050 Activation Challenge and foster deeper compassion amongst Angelenos, Center for Council will train ten of the finalist organizations in the practice of Council.
Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.
Center for Council will train the winning organizations and six semi-finalists in Council, a practice of bringing people together to listen non-judgmentally and speak authentically. Council diffuses tensions that arise from bias and misunderstanding and fosters respectful, cooperative relationships and compassionate, resilient communities. Integrating Council into these organizations will deepen their connection to the constituents they serve and amplify the impact of their activation projects.
Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?
- Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
- Participation in neighborhood councils
- Rates of volunteerism
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
- Any area where the organizations participating in Connection through Council are located
How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?
- Trainings and/or in-person engagements
- Encourage businesses to change practices
- Influence individual behavior
Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?
Council is a tradition of bringing people together in a circle to listen non-judgmentally to one another’s stories and to speak authentically. Combining elements of storytelling and mindfulness, the practice provides a tool for diffusing bias and misunderstanding, fostering more respectful relationships, and supporting the emergence of compassionate and resilient communities.
Center for Council has worked with over 50 social justice organizations through its Social Justice Council Project. The Social Justice Council Project provides LA nonprofits with training in Council to more effectively listen to and engage with their constituents, and to create more cooperative and supportive internal work environments, mitigating staff stress and burnout. Program evaluation has shown that implementing Council helps participants improve their communication skills, empathy, connectedness, and mindfulness both within and outside the workplace, as well as reduces social anxiety when having to speak in group settings.
If selected as an LA2050 Activation Challenge winner, Center for Council will employ the Social Justice Council Project model to help strengthen the internal work cultures and programmatic impact of the other five winning organizations and six semi-finalists.
In order for organizations to positively impact the community at-large, there is a critical need to be able to listen deeply to the populations they serve. Organizational staff must develop a capacity to understand both the context of underlying issues embedded within these populations and the history that lives in the stories of community members and their families. By learning to incorporate Council into their work, participants will experience a deeper connection and enhanced engagement in the in-person interactions they have with the community members they serve, as well as with one another, creating a cultural shift both within the workplace and in Los Angeles at-large. The practice of Council is carried from the workplace to the home, from the home back out into the world, and has the potential to impact every interaction an individual has.
By integrating deeper listening and compassion-based communication into the LA community, the project will mobilize Angelinos and impact the following LA2050 CONNECT metrics: adults getting sufficient social & emotional support; participation in neighborhood councils; rates of volunteerism; trainings and in-person engagements; encouraging (nonprofit) businesses to change practices; and influencing individual behavior. Participating organizations will both experience and deliver significant positive shifts in personal health (lower stress, less stress-related disease), group health (better communication, more cooperation) and community health (more pro-social, compassion-centered engagement).
How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect
By working with non-profits positively impacting the lives of Angelenos, Center for Council will create a ripple-effect of shared understanding and enhanced compassion radiating from the inner circle of change-makers out into the greater LA community. If the principles of human connectedness and commonality are embedded throughout the innovative ideas propelling our city forward, the notion of connection will be engrained in the bedrock of LA’s future. Working with organizations on the frontlines of change in LA, Center for Council will indirectly engage the many community members those non-profits serve, activating over 400,500 Angelenos in totality. Center for Council’s activation challenge aims to create a shift in how the change agents of LA are engaging with the city, and how community members are interacting with one another for the benefit of the city. The two are profoundly connected.
Over the course of two years, the project will provide comprehensive training and support in Council, including pre-program consultation; immersive training for staff members; monthly follow-up workshops; individualized mentoring and consulting; and a culminating project-wide networking event. The first year will lay the groundwork for implementing the theory and elements of Council into the organizations’ daily operations. The second year will focus on a customized Council protocol, tailored specifically to each organization and enhancing each of the activation challenges.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.
Center for Council will employ an internal evaluation methodology for this program, which has been developed in partnership with RAND Corporation and UCLA. It will include administration of pre- and post-surveys, anonymous feedback forms, and anecdotal and narrative self-report accounts of the project’s impacts. Center for Council will evaluate: perceptions of authentic interpersonal connection, self-reported feelings of support and recognition versus isolation within staff groups, organizational resilience in instances of change or hardship, participants’ understanding of Council forms and processes, impact of the Council process on organizational function and client interactions, organizational readiness for the project, degree to which the organization’s specific stated objectives were met, overall effectiveness of Council trainers, including cultural sensitivity and self-awareness.
Center for Council’s past programs have been proven to reduce anger/aggression and hostility, enable participants to connect with others in ways they haven’t before, create safe and supportive environments for self-expression without fear of judgment, help participants gain greater insight into themselves and issues holding them back, help with the development of effective communication skills, and increase resilience.
Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?
The overarching intention of the Connection through Council activation program is to engage local, community-based organizations on the front lines of creating change and shifting policy in Los Angeles, through work that emphasizes compassion and connection. Council is a generative, adaptable practice, with the capacity to evolve to fit the specific needs of those who use it. It is our hope that, once trained in Council, individuals participating in Connection through Council will begin to facilitate their own Council circles, extending their knowledge and understanding of the practice and our shared connection to those in their communities, creating a more connected, stronger, and compassion-rich city as a whole.
The effects of a small group of individuals learning the skills and techniques involved in truly listening to one another, speaking authentically from the heart, and taking time to sit together in a communal practice is ten-fold. The principles embedded in Council have the power and potential to inform every interaction each participating individual has afterward, with their families, friends, and constituents. It is our hope that, in five years’ time, every individual in LA will have directly or indirectly been impacted by the practice of Council.
Center for Council’s aspirations are grand but not out of reach: we want to change the way that we, as a society, relate to one another, enrich the way we communicate with those both within and outside our communities, enhance our capacity to learn from one another and the emergent collective wisdom, and cultivate a sincere and embodied understanding of our profound, human interconnectedness.