Tag: The Community Service Center (CSC)

The Trust Agreement

By Titus Tomlinson and Aniko Drlik-Muehleck

History and relationships in rural communities run deep. This creates a rich web of networks and shared wisdom that can support a community through tough times.

The flip-side of longstanding relationships, however, can be paralysis. As humans, we remember the past and in particular, we remember the wrongs of the past. If someone snubs or undermines me, I’m not likely to want to work with them again. I might even go so far as to tell all my friends and colleagues not to work with them again. Word spreads quickly, and factions start to develop; we dig in and don’t cooperate with people or groups we don’t respect.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly legitimate to cut off relationships. You don’t, for example, want to keep working with someone who is stealing from you. In the context of community development, however, holding grudges does not pay off. If you’re serious about getting things done in your community, you can’t let the past get in your way.

Here at the Community Service Center, we’ve been experimenting with the Strategic Doing framework as a way to move community conversations beyond the usual sticking points of tense relationships and power struggles. It is never easy to change the direction and mood of a community conversation, but here’s something we’ve tried that you might be interested in bringing to your own community work: The Trust Agreement.

The Trust Agreement is simple, but powerful:

We believe in behaving in ways that build trust and mutual respect. That means:

  • Leave your ego at the door.
  • The past is the past.
  • Treat others with the respect you hope to receive in return.
  • We are a coalition of the willing…
  • …ALWAYS focus on the positive. We’re here to talk about what we CAN do, not what we can’t.

When you’re coming in to a particularly difficult meeting where you know egos and historical grudges might be at play, consider beginning your discussion by laying out these concepts. Then courteously yet firmly let meeting participants know that if they can’t embrace the Trust Agreement, this meeting probably isn’t for them.

Be Prepared

By Ali Lau

Just like every community, Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) are at risk from emergency events, both natural and manmade. A team of graduate students in the Community Planning Workshop class hope to learn exactly how much variation exists. The goal for this team of students, led by Project Manager Rory Isbell, is to gain a comprehensive view of emergency management at all IHEs in this country. The final report will be include a strategic action plan with recommendations to make emergency management better and more efficient.

What counts as an IHE? This category includes every possible type of higher education institution, not just four-year colleges and universities (both public and private). IHEs also include technical colleges, professional schools, and two-year community colleges. This project seeks to study as many schools as possible in order to better understand how emergency management can be improved for all types of IHEs.

Source: emc.uoregon.edu
Source: emc.uoregon.edu

What counts as an emergency? Schools have different definitions and ways to cope with emergencies. Emergencies range from natural hazards, like earthquakes or tsunamis, to crimes, such as assault or arson. Additionally, some schools have many campuses across the country or even the globe. How do these schools manage emergencies on an international scale?

Overall, schools need to be prepared for anything. According to John Tommaney, Director of Emergency Management for Boston College, “there are things that you just can’t anticipate, like the Boston marathon bombing, our challenge is to be as prepared as possible for any situation.”

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to emergency management; each IHE has a different approach. Some schools have an entire department dedicated to emergency management, while others rely on their campus police or public safety departments to cover emergencies.

This project is a joint effort between the National Center for Campus Safety (NCCPS), the Disaster Resilient Universities (DRU) Network, and the International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM) Universities and Colleges Caucus (UCC). The Community Service Center is happy to have strong, national partners who are are dedicated to improving the lives of others through emergency management.

AlexandAli Laura Lau is working on her Master of Community and Regional Planning and Master of Architecture degrees at the University of Oregon. Her academic studies revolve around improving design standards for buildings to create more sustainable cities.