the past few years, I have begun to see significant parallels
between personal, organizational and community empowerment. For
example, Brian Tracy, one of the top Success Coaches in the
world today, says that our frame of reference group is the
single most important factor in determining our level of success
in fulfilling more of our inherent potential.
The communities we are
building together are our customized frame of reference groups.
We enjoy the advantages of living and working together and
pursuing shared visions and missions. We’re on a quest to make
a positive difference in our world.
Arthur Morgan said: “A good
community will not be invented, discovered or "just
grow." It must be forged from the purpose and quality of
the lives of the people living in it.
the most effective demonstration of the correlation between
personal and community development is a story told by Earl
Nightingale. It’s a powerful story about a father who
attempted to distract his young son so that he could work by
cutting up a picture of the earth from a magazine and making it
into a puzzle. When the son returned almost immediately with the
completed puzzle, his father asked him how he did it so quickly.
The son said: "It was easy, dad. On the other side of the
picture of the earth was a picture of a man. When I put the man
back together, the world was together too.
For as long as I can
remember, I have been interested in community, community
development and empowerment. In my early teens, I used to
envision living in a community of friends as I played in the
woods in the remote hill country near Calhoun City where my
father had lived as a young boy, Even at that early age, I
sensed a desire to live with other people of like mind in a
setting designed to further personal and community advancement.
At the age of 19, I received
an unsolicited grant from the Quaker American Friends Service
Committee to establish a Community Development Center in the
Mississippi Delta to support youth empowerment and desegregation
of the public schools.
When I was in my early
twenties, my wife and I spent many pleasant hours drafting a
screenplay, which we hopped to use to raise money to build a
spiritually oriented community in the
As we traveled around the
country through my work as a Federal Disaster Relief Specialist,
we began to
learn about intentional communities. We developed an attraction
to those with a spiritual orientation and a focus on empowering
succeeding generations, a value we shared as parents of two
In 1975, we leaned about the
intentional community of Stelle, Illinois, which had been
established upon the philosophy and worldview presented in a
book, The Ultimate Frontier. We moved to Stelle in 1978
and I have lived there for most of the past 21 years. After
living in intentional communities and working in various
government positions in community and economic development, I
discovered the field of Community Economic Development in 1990.
During an introductory class
in the Community Economic Development Master's program at New
Hampshire College, my classmates and I developed the following
list of the root causes of the problems that threaten our
See if you agree with any of
The me generation
Getting away from God
Lack of spirituality
Lack of common vision
Absence of wisdom
Focus on accumulation
Spiritual and cultural
disintegration and the
Lack of an appropriate
values system and ways to express it.
following month we considered potential solutions to these
problems by identifying the following values of community
participation in government and community
Focus on human
development and community development
* Local resource
Retention of wealth in
Seeing personal and
organizational goals within the larger context of community and
appreciation of multi cultural differences in religion,
race, values, perspectives and
Enabling people and
communities to empower themselves
spiritual underpinning, a sense of oneness
How many of these principles
relate to your work in Community?
Ever since I learned about
Community Economic Development and the accomplishments about
2,500 Community Development Corporations (CDC's) in America, I
have felt that we in intentional communities need to engage in
dialogue and a process of sharing our vision, dreams and
expertise with each other. It would seem mutually beneficial for
those of us who have enjoyed the unique advantages of
accelerated personal, organizational and community empowerment
and development we experience in intentional community to share
our resources with the tens of thousands of CDC participants who
have realized equally important accomplishments.
Listen to what Lorraine
Garkovich of the University of Kentucky has to say about
personal and community empowerment:
"When a community and its
people are empowered, they have the capacity to articulate their
needs; to identify actions to solve those needs; and to mobilize
and organize resources in pursuit of commonly defined goals.
When the people of a community come together to visualize and
work together to achieve a common future, they recognize that
everyone-regardless of education, job, race, age, or
background--has something important to contribute to personal
and community empowerment. Indeed, the greater the diversity of
the participants, the richer the vision and the more effective
Just imagine the
possibilities if our combined wisdom, experience and
harnessed in a synergistic manner. How many more people could
benefit from the state-of-the-art community development
techniques if they were more effectively manifested within the
intentional communities movement? And how much more effective
could the CDC's be at enabling their citizens to realize more of
their full potential as co-creators of their individual and
collective destiny if we share with them our expertise in
consensus work, conflict resolution, and a balanced approach to
meeting individual and community needs?
Over these two days of the Art of Community Conference, we share
an opportunity to glimpse some possibilities of what some might
call heaven on earth. We've learned some of the most valuable
wisdom from the thousands of intentional communities which many
communitarians suggest serve as research and development
laboratories for America and the world.
of the best descriptions of the 10 main aspects of intentional
communities was published in The Tarrytown Group newsletter
which listed the following characteristics:
MAIN ASPECTS OF TH
E NEW UTOPIAN VISION
dual commitment to
transformation, both personal and planetary. Dedication
to individual growth and to serving the needs of humanity.
A community based on sharing, pooling of finances and
resources, rather than competition and
deep respect for the environment, to restoring ecological
balance and "living lightly" on the earth. To develop
solar and wind energy, organic agriculture.
spirit of experimentalism- in both work and relationships. A commitment
to "working through" the shadow side of the
personality, to confronting conflict between
individuals and within the self. To bringing out the dark
side for transformation into affirmative alliances.
economics: Finding businesses and ways to manage them that
put human values on the bottom line and
still return a healthy profit.
Common sense. The determination to find practical solutions that
work toward conquering society's problems of pollution,
inflation, violence and alienation.
holistic approach to health: Exploring alternative
healing from herbs to acupuncture, nutrition and massage, to
preventive methods aimed at helping
people to take responsibility for their own health.
a positive vision: The determination,
far from grim, to
build an example for a better society and to live tomorrow's
world today. And to make their insights available, through
outreach programs, to local communities and the world at large.
government by consensus. Working with group process and evoking
the intuition of community members in the decision-making
A world network. Cooperating with similar communities throughout the world, sharing skills and services, taking political action - and forming the vital
nucleus of a new civilization.
I believe you win agree with me that these
10 characteristics of intentional communities which were described in a 1983
copy of The Tarrytown
Newsletter rare still evident in
1999 as demonstrated in the sessions presented
here by members of the Fellowship for Intentional Community.
During this Art of Community conference,
we've also been introduced to some of the significant contributions of MAHP
and Mary's leadership. Generating 40 million dollars of affordable housing for
1,400 people in just 7 years is a remarkable accomplishment.
According to the National Congress for
Community Economic Development, there are about 2,500 Community Development
Corporations (CDC’s) like MAHP in America.
These community based development
organizations have generated about 100,000 jobs, developed over 400,000 units
of affordable housing and they have developed or renovated about 20 trlllion
square feet of commercial and industrial space.
These are outstanding accomplishments for
what are often grassroots, community based organizations comprised primarily
of so-caned "disadvantaged citizens" located mostly in economically
distressed communities. These are frequently misperceived as the"
empty”, "hopeless”, and "imprisoned" people Dr. Kretzman
referred to yesterday in both his keynote address and workshop.
While I understand the point John said Edna
Johnson made about being put in prison by what other people perceived about
those who lived in the South Bronx, 1 believe
it is usually we ourselves who construct our mental prisons. My good friend
and partner in Expanding the Circle of Success, Les Brown, loves to tell what
I think is a relevant story. It’s the story about how he responded to a
teacher's direction to go to the chalkboard and work out a problem.
Les told him he couldn't do it because he
was learning disabled. That teacher said to Les, "Don't ever say that
again. Don’t ever let someone else's opinion of you become your
After twenty years of studying, applying
and teaching various success principles and techniques, I have observed that
there are three primary factors that determine the level of success we realize
in life as individuals and organizations. I believe these are the clarity of
our vision, the definiteness -of our purpose and the appropriateness of our
beliefs, attitudes and actions. Because I also believe these three success
factors are applicable at the community level, I am committed to helping
provide expanded access to resources for personal and community empowerment
and greater interchange between intentional communities and CED.
I believe we have an opportunity to further
explore how the experiences of intentional community and community-based
development might represent two halves of a whole, a whole mostly unrealized
in our past. By considering every aspect of development as an essential
component of one process or evolution, we can accelerate the realization of
our inherent potential, at the personal, organizational, community, national
and global levels.
By combining our halves into a whole, we
might even help heal the whole world
If it is true as many prominent experts
suggest that most of us only use about 5% to 10% of our full capacity, isn’t
that also probably true of the communities we live in and the organizations we
Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the
Hierarchy of Needs which most of us are familiar with. He also described what
a "fully actualized person” would be like. How they would think, and
act and live.
Paul J. Meyer, the leading self-improvement
author of all time, created the Total Person Approach, which is somewhat
similar to Maslow's concepts. Mr. Meyer also developed The Wheel of Life
exercise to help individuals discover how well they are doing in six major
areas of life: Physical and Health; Financial and Career; Social and Cultural;
Mental and Educational; Family and Home; and Spiritual and Ethical.
Please take a minute to complete the Wheel
of Life for yourself. You will see there are 10 marks on each spoke. Place a
dot on the spoke that represents
your present level of satisfaction in that area. Now connect your dots.
does your wheel tell you? Would it roll? Do you have some unfilled potential?
Are there some areas you might want to set goals?
Over the past few months through our
Expanding the Circle of Success project, we have been using the Wheel of Life
to help people assess just how well America is doing in these six areas. For
example, if only 5 of 100 individuals retiring at age 65 in the richest nation
on earth are financially independent and over 40 are dependent on one program
or another, how well are we doing on a scale of 1 to 10? About-20?
And if half of the women murdered in
America in 1995 were killed by their spouse or partner and if two thirds of
the children who were murdered were killed by their parents, just how badly
are we doing in the area of Family and Home? Minus 20 or -30?
Today, it seems easier than ever before to
see the negative aspects of our society and the world. I wonder if we might be
able to discern a more positive vision of what a fully actualizing community
might look like.
The Community Economic Development
Principles I shared earlier present some possible evaluation criteria. There
have also been a few individuals who have given us a view of what a fully
actualizing community might include. For example, the descriptions of a Great
Community by Arthur Morgan paint a picture
of what is Possible.
"The Great Community must be built on
a full all-round view of life and its possibilities. The Great Community will
achieve a living unity. It win not be just an aggregation of
individuals, families, congregations, firms, cliques, and interests. Holding
that "that which unites us is greater than that which separates us”, it
will develop unity of outlook, purpose, and program without thwarting
individual or group autonomy. Its various organizations will not tear the
community apart to advance themselves, but will be agencies for enlarging and
unifying community life."
In his classic book, Small Community, Mr.
Morgan offers us a few more factors to consider: "Suppose a man or woman
living in a small community wishes to work for its development. What can he or
she do? First it is necessary to get a clear vision of the new community as an
all-round, well proportioned society in which human relations are fine and
sound, and where all the elemental needs of men, women and children can be
met. The community, by means of free inquiry and common aspiration, must
achieve a common view of a total way of life, and a common discipline. Only to
the extent that it does so is it actually a community.”
“The aim will be to seek unity,
fellowship, and a sense of good proportion, so that the community shall be
united in the aim of making possible for each of its members a fun and varied
development of his/her life according to the needs of the community as a whole
and the needs of his or her individual genius."
Garkovich gives us a vision of what is possible in her description of an
us imagine the community where we would all want to live. It is a community
where families, regardless of income
or structure, have access to a
wide variety of services and programs designed to nurture and strengthen them.
It is a community where residents have opportunities to find jobs that match
their skills and provide a living wage. It is a community with different
economic classes; but where a person begins life is not the primary
determinant of what they can achieve. It is a community that encourages its
members to be active participants in all phases of life by
acknowledging that everyone has skills or ideas that can contribute to
bettering their world. It is a community that recognizes that some
tasks cannot be completed and some goals cannot be achieved alone. Indeed,
cooperation and interdependence,
competition would be the key characteristics of successful communities
and a successful society.
take a look now at a modification of the Wheel of Life designed to help
evaluate the positive factors of what might be called a "fully
you have before you represents my best initial efforts to incorporate within
the limitation of only 8 categories, the wisdom and experiences of intentional
community, the Principles of Community Economic Development, and the wisdom of
Arthur Morgan, M. Scott Peck, Lorainne Garkovich and others.
would you rate your community on the Wheel of Life?
changes would you make to the factors I selected?
other ways could we effectively measure how well our communities are assisting
us to develop our full potential as individuals and as communities.
write to us and let us add your insights as we continue to refine this
exercise to promote discovery of fully actualizing communities.
agree with a recent cover story from Communities Journal of Cooperative Living
that boldly stated: "Community is the answer to every question Y2K
believe that sustained pursuit of the objectives of this conference may lead
us into new fields of discovery, of clearer understanding of who we are, as
individuals and as organizations, and discover our ultimate purpose for being,
serving and contributing to the whole.
continuing our quest here at this Art of Community Conference to build bridges
between the unique contributions and resources of community based development
and intentional communities, we may discover more clearly what a fully
actualizing community would actually look like.
it is true that the model must precede the statue and that we must be able to
see clearly what it is we desire before we may have it, then let us go
forth in pursuit of the Art and Science of Community.
are just a few possibilities that occurred to me while preparing for this
NCCED, (National Congress for Community Economic Development) is the trade
association for the 2,500 CDC's and it has national conferences every year at
various locations across the country. We could establish a working committee
out of this conference to develop and submit proposed sessions that would be
presented at these conferences to build greater cross awareness and
collaboration between Intentional Communities and Community Based development
Thanks to the vision of Secretary Cuomo, the U .S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development now publishes a combined Super NOFA, or Notification Of
Funding Availability. The current year Super NOFA provides 2.4 billion
dollars, mostly to communities and to 3,500 Public Housing Authorities.
of the HUD money is set aside for
Community Outreach Partnership Centers to encourage collaboration between
institutions of higher learning and communities. Perhaps this is an area where
we could contact present and prior recipients of funding to offer our services
of my associates in personal, organizational, housing and community economic
development pool their resources and resumes and they submit joint proposals
to HUD to provide technical assistance and consulting services.
suggest that we consider setting a goal of being prepared to submit a joint
response to the next HUD Super NOFA to share our expertise in the Art and
Science of Community.
Star Trek's First Contact, Captain Picard says: "The
acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in the 24th
Century. We work to better ourselves and better all of
believe that we in this room are already manifesting this future
vision. It is perfectly apparent through this conference that
betterment of ourselves and betterment of our communities are
our shared objectives.
us further clarify our vision and discern what a fully
actualizing community will look like.
us develop the definiteness of purpose required to discover and
achieve our ultimate destiny as individuals, organizations, and
us manifest the appropriate beliefs, attitudes and actions that
win ensure our success.
of the quotes Paul J. Meyer is most famous for is:
"Whatever you can vividly imagine, ardently desire,
sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon,
must inevitably come to pass."
closing, let me share with you a paraphrased quote: Whatever
ultimate vision of your community you can vividly imagine,
ardently desire to share with others in mutually beneficial,
co-creative ways, sincerely believe that you can achieve
together, and enthusiastically act upon with an attitude of
service, must inevitably produce the Great Community Arthur
Morgan described, a fully actualizing community that will
surpass most people's wildest dreams of what is humanly
applaud the leadership of MAHP and the FIC for initiating this
process and for making it possible for us to share this
experience and explore these opportunities. Thank you all for
this opportunity to share these thoughts on personal and
community empowerment with you.
us go forth, serve well, live long and prosper. Thank you.
Copyright 1999 by Charles Betterton. All rights reserved.
Charles Betterton is the founder and CEO of CENTER SPACE, Inc.,
a nonprofit membership organization, that fosters spiritual,
personal, organizational and community empowerment. CENTER SP
ACE is developing a University for Successful Living TM and an
international network of locally initiated Centers for
Successful Living TM that offer a broad range of publications,
seminars, and workshops to help people, organizations and
communities see, believe and achieve all they can be, do and
SPACE's target audience is primarily the 95% of the world's
population who is not generally provided access to
state-of-the-art development training programs and successful
living principles. The organizational mission is to establish a
comprehensive system and process to develop and deliver ongoing
training and capacity building resources within churches,
nonprofit organizations and communities.
has over 25 years of administrative experience in national and
local government and nonprofit organizations involved in
spiritual, personal, organizational, community and economic
development. He holds a Master's degree in Community Economic
Development and is the author of the Introduction to Personal
and Professional Success Techniques Seminar; Motivision TM: 21
Steps to Succesful Living; and The Ultimate
Life Inpowerment TM Planning System. For more
information, write to: CENTER SPACE, 127 Sun Street, Stelle, IL
60919 or call 760-212-9931.