Community IQ - The Concept

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What is Community IQ? 

Community IQ is a community-building program that brings select students from three different local high schools together in a year-long, structured, project-based, facilitated process that develops social-emotional core competencies and trains and prepares youth for socially conscious leadership. 

Students who participate gain valuable skills that will prepare them to navigate a social context laden with nuances, polarizations, bias, and stereotypes, as they explore differences, experience commonalities, and connect with their own leadership capacities within safe local diverse multi-school cohorts through our unique approach based on “spatial” learning.

Spatial Learning

“Spatial” learning is what happens when physical spaces, architecture, and the built environment are used as vehicles for bringing people together to learn about the communities that inhabit and find meaning in those spaces.  For example, visiting a foreign country is one common type of “spatial” experience— one may notice when travelling abroad the different types of landscapes or architecture, but the cultural, social, and historical matrix that elicited those forms is less apparent; and one needs to actively engage with both the space and its invisible context to understand the genesis of the forms.  

Space, which includes both the built forms and their contexts, is a powerful and compelling approach for bridging differences, filling gaps in understanding, broadening perspectives, and developing a nuanced social consciousness.  The sharing of spaces— in this case our three participating high schools— offer a learning inaccessible to even the best classrooms.  The physicality of being in another’s space— and being received and welcomed by the people who inhabit that space is a visceral phenomenon that generates lasting emotional memories of belonging.  The boundaries inherent to these experiences, at the same time, elicit important questions about self-identity and relationship to others.

These spatial experiences are enhanced by the hearing of journeys spoken by individuals who attend each school, by select classroom experiences, by demonstrations of talent and achievement, and through a dialogue and activity on a topic.

Through the process of these “tours” and skill-based sessions the students become proficient in effective listening, dialogue, and communication that humanizes, moves past stereotypes, dispel fears of difference, and opens the heart to new understandings and empathy.  

Out of this process, the final phase of the CIQ program is a student-driven project.  Leadership skills based in deep understandings of the other are here further expressed and honed through navigating project choice, research, testing, and implementation.

Community IQ, in sum, uses the physical spaces of three different schools to explore and elicit understanding of the communal histories, values, challenges, and accomplishments that lay behind them.  This is Community IQ’s unique and innovative approach to diversity and inclusion efforts:  this program builds a trusting, caring, radically inclusive model community in the local context of difference through these deep, structured encounters with one’s neighbors.  And then it fosters collective, informed action. 

 

The Community IQ Process

 

Community IQ transforms how diversity, inclusion, and the important skills needed for effective social and emotional development are taught and learned using our unique and proven effective community-building model.

 

In partnership with a set of three local high schools, Community IQ brings together a cohort of students from each school called a Planning Committee.  Here is a diagram showing how it is comprised:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Planning Committee travels together through the four-phase facilitated process. The four phases of development are as follows:

 

Phase 1 

establishes regular contact across difference

outlining concepts in socially conscious leadership

laying out guidelines for dialogue, listening and communication, and cooperation

collectively planning site visits and researching information about each site and 

relationship-building through facilitated exercises.  

 

Phase 2 

dialogue skill development in listening and communication

getting to a deeper knowledge of self and how we relate to others

recognizing stereotypes and biases

radical hospitality and building inclusive spaces

transforming challenging conversations 

how to be authentic

establishing a set of common values and vision; and

self-recognition as a “community” in solidarity.

 

Phase 3 

community assessment

determine an action project for design and implementation

establish task forces for action project research, design, testing, and redesign

assessing own leadership skills and style

setting goals

 

Phase 4

action project implementation

mobilizing the wider networks, building a movement

building a growth mindset

resistance and reslience

 

The above process is supplemented by “site visits” — one to each school.  These site visits are also open to everyone at the three participating schools.  While the Planning Committee benefits most significantly from their participation, the wider communities at each school are importantly brought into the process during the site visits and in follow-up processing sessions.  This is how community is built across the wider network from the inside out.

Student participants on the Core Planning Committee will receive a certificate from our organization as Community IQ leaders. 

 

Format

 

CommunityIQ will be designed to accommodate on-ground, hybrid, or all-virtual formats.

 

Why Community IQ? 

 

Our society is in need of reconnecting, depolarizing and of finding more effective solutions to address social unrest, social injustices, and harmful misunderstandings about others.  Diversity efforts are often too limited to make lasting differences and have sometimes generated unfortunate and harmful hostilities and backlash.

Community IQ is a new and compelling approach to rebuilding how people gather and how people relate to one another.  Our approach is to build from the ground-up in a grassroots manner to model how radical inclusion, trust, and peaceful negotiations and exchange can happen.  We do this through impeccable and fun experiences that at the same time build up the most important capacities in our youth for purposefully inclusive, socially conscious leadership.

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