Participatory Management Approach, INC. (PMA) Robert Booher
Applying LENS and Human Development Processes to Support Effective Planning in Local Municipalities.
My work in the Rochester area of the State of New York took the form of the creation of a private company—PMA. My staff and I worked with municipalities, agencies, and local congregations (this company was active through 2004). This writing here focuses on my municipality work. During the planning phase of our municipality work, my staff and I examined demographical data, identified the leadership-both elected and professional-and analyzed the economic trends of the region. As we reviewed these objective data, we would discuss potential crisis points and concerns, and recognize potential breakthroughs and impacts.
Description of PMA’s work: Pre-planning for each event took the form of in-depth social and political research, and a process for reflection and analysis on those findings. Each municipality planning event featured these components: their vision; the contradictions they must anticipate; and corrective strategies that articulated local and regional imperatives.
Vision — This component was surprisingly difficult to do. If participants thought they were dealing with only political suggestions, this glitch in the process was easily corrected with shared examples from other communities. Vision material was gestalted using both charts and brief narratives; a vision session was often open to the public. Because participants could get initially get caught up in the old thinking of “action before the identification of the contradictions,” it was sometimes necessary to rewrite this section before it was submitted to the State Department.
Contradictions – As with ICA’s work at a Human Development Project Consultation, the blame game could be violently and highly present, and the ancient prejudices were at full blossom. Twenty short courses did help, as did a dozen illustrations. This is when a review of that initial research is a key. This review created a narrative that was needed to help launch the next corrective strategies section.
Corrective Strategies – At this point, the burden on the participants was becoming clear, and people got very cautious. A balance was struck, however, by the need to articulate the local and regional imperatives. This written articulation released the political and regional resources. We saw that participation began to thin here, and continued, as timelines, action plans, and group assignments progressed.
These clarifying products sometimes became a base for several participants to run and win political office. In the case of agencies, they were able to specify their needs and to gain new funding. A helpful spin off to the company was on occasion when the CEO employed me to follow up the work with her and do strategic management with the agency leadership and/or Board training and agency-wide Board strategies.
Aging Well Together is a program of “Village-to-Village Movement” which provides affordable support programs for middle income seniors.
In 2014, Elsa and John Bengel, and Jim and Judy Kilgore used their Order/ICA planning skills to create JP@Home– Aging Well Together –in partnership with Ethos, a 501c3 Aging Services Provider. This program is part of the national and international “village movement” organizing middle income seniors to thrive in this phase of their lives. Ethos provides all the administrative, in-home assistance and case management, as needed, at a reduced fee. The one hundred and fifty project members (and increasing) develop, recruit and lead all of the educational and support programs, offering about 30 activities each month. Annual membership fees fund one staff person who is our single “point of contact” for Ethos services and support, for recruitment, and all programs/events. We are adding business members as we apply age-friendly practices. We are a network of small groups structured by activities and governance. Our members are attentive to one another’s strengths and challenges, and compassionate in times of great need. Where ever you live now, consider joining your nearby village or start new one. Presently in my 70’s, I have 50 new friends and a life with renewed purpose and fun. www.vtvnetwork.org and www.ethocare.org/jpathome
The Start-up: After hearing about the Beacon Hill Village from a friend, and recognizing it as a response to unmet seniors’ needs–needs such as social connections, services, and specific ongoing information and support– we set about exploring the opportunity to form such a group. Soon, a local planning group was started. We set a goal of collecting close to 100 “pledges-to-join” before the organization would launch. We also worked diligently on a very detailed Memorandum of Agreement, which clearly stated what the responsibilities of Ethos would be and what the member leaders were agreeing to develop. Next, we formed a larger “Organizing Committee.” We next added members and formed a “Founding Committee.” In the coming year we created materials, gave presentations to groups in our homes, at libraries and churches, to political groups, and tracked and recorded responses. We finally had 75 pledges to join JP@Home; in November of 2014, we agreed that we should launch and continue to work toward the goal of 100 members. This has proven to be preferential to starting a separate non-profit, many of us having worked in non-profits and other organization leadership roles.
In 2019, I was named National Volunteer of the Year by the Village-to- Village Network for my role in organizing this new village.