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The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Does Spirituality have a role? January 10, 2011

Posted by tomwolff in : Collaborative Solutions, Spirituality , add a comment

Spirituality – a key force in community building and collaborative solutions

The publication of The Power of Collaborative Solutions has led to numerous requests to speak, consult and train across the US and indeed all around the hemisphere – British Virgin Islands, Mexico, Ottawa and within the US to San Diego, LA, Milwaukee, Kansas, Vermont, and multiple sites in my home state of Massachusetts. The past year has been a a whirlwind.

I have been gratified to receive so much heartfelt thanks for the book’s clarity, practicality, usefulness and inspiration. For me, some of the most interesting feedback has been about what has inspired readers. Here the focus has been on the last chapter of the book “Engaging Spirituality as Your Compass for Social Change”

People note how seldom we talk about spirituality in our community helping work. It is almost a taboo topic. Somehow, talking about spirituality seems to be likened to religion, and health and human service workers have told me that they don’t feel that that is appropriate and thus try not to go there. For many of us spirituality does not  mean religion. I quote Leland Kaiser in my book who clarifies the difference:

“Spirituality is often confused with religion. They are very different things. Religion refers to a very specific set of beliefs, a tradition, a prescribed set of practices. Spirituality refers to a broad set of principles that transcend all religions. Spirituality is about the relationship between ourselves and something larger.”(p.200)

Once I open up the topic of spirituality in my talks or workshops or when people read about it in the book they frequently confide in me that their spirituality (however they define it) is central to their work in communities. It is why they do the work and is what keeps them going.

As I note in Chapter 8 “Spiritual principles can sustain us as we help communities move towards sharing abundance, honoring the natural environment, promoting social justice and compassion, and operating from a stance of collaboration rather than competition. A spiritual grounding lets us use loving compassion as a guide for our decision making. It helps us honor every member of our community as a valuable asset and appreciate resource”. (p.200)

How is your spirituality a part of your community work?

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