Stout lays out the extensive and innovative prework that must be done to build trust and openness before any kind of meeting is held - a distinctive feature of collective visioning. She describes creative approaches for encouraging people to share their histories and most deeply held personal values, and she explains how understanding why each person is drawn to the work is vital in designing action strategies that build on people's particular strengths. She illustrates her points with inspiring stories of what collective vision can accomplish, drawn from her decades of committed activism.
You don’t have to be a prolific speaker, brilliant writer, or gifted organizational leader to bring about change in your community, says nonprofit director Linda Stout in Collective Visioning. What you need, in her view, is a collective vision around which you can rally people to work together to achieve.
Stout’s principle is “collective visioning,” and it means focusing on an ideal of what you want your community to be, rather than on the particular problem that you want to solve. She shares stories of organizations, faith groups, and circles of neighbors and friends who successfully applied collective visioning. For example, residents of a low-income community in Louisiana prevailed on the state’s legislature to close down a juvenile prison that had been abusing its inmates, and then convert the property into a community college.
In another case, after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, a group of students in a dilapidated school in New Orleans took charge to plan repairs of its classrooms and buildings. They also implemented brand-new garden plots, outdoor meeting spaces, and energy-efficient architectural designs.
Stout guides readers on how they, too, can carry out collective visioning in their own communities. She explains how one would bring together a diverse group of people and get them to interact in an atmosphere of equality and acceptance; then, through session exercises and activities such as storytelling, he or she would inspire them, break down barriers of mistrust, and make sure that everyone is sufficiently heard.
Collective Visioning is a powerful depiction of the positive impacts a motivated group of people can have on their community. Community activists and all who want to improve their neighborhoods’ quality of life may find in it both inspiring examples and useful tips.