cultural patterns |
for identity, work, and collaboration
Wildflowers Institute was established in 1997 as a social innovation and application lab. We are focused on understanding how communities work. Our mission is to design methods and tools to catalyze the innate power in communities. We believe that the greatest promise for self-sustaining community change comes from strengthening the existing resources within the community. We have been studying how vulnerable communities self-organize, and we are documenting organic approaches to community building.
During a decade of work in Asian American, African American, indigenous, and Mexican/Central American communities; in mixed racial and ethnic communities in the United States; and in China and Mexico, we have uncovered an organic community infrastructure for advancing social safety and social health. Our studies reveal an infrastructure that comprises a group of compassionate and forward-looking leaders, social spaces for renewal and development, and many different kinds of generative activities. It operates in the informal sector of the community and is most often invisible to outsiders. (A copy of our monograph, Making Visible the Invisible Power of Community, is available on this Web site. This monograph includes six videos that play within the PDF, and we highly recommend that you watch them.
Wildflowers’ methods and tools are interactive processes that the community and the institute jointly undertake. Through our interactions, observations, ongoing discussions, and documentation, we mirror the community’s assets and its strategies for creating cohesion, addressing challenges, and sustaining its members over time. This mirroring authenticates the approaches inside the community and with mainstream society.
We have developed four methods that serve as a catalyst to advance community efforts and aspirations: Model-building; mirroring and analysis; small grants; and an experiential pedagogy to bring different cultures together.
We offer these processes and tools to assist communities, funders, and organizations dedicated to social development and to fostering a synergy of cultures among heterogeneous groups of people.
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