Home > Uncategorized > [NBA Project] About the Needs-Based Assessment Project

[NBA Project] About the Needs-Based Assessment Project

(I have no idea what is up with the formatting. Please bear with me as I play with it and try to not make it look like poo.)

I belong to a unique religious community that is starting to become more focused on service to the community. In Paganism and Wicca, there is no central organizing structure, indeed no outlined rules for inclusion or support in the community. People from all walks of life and beliefs tend to gather geographically in groups for socialization and networking, and do smaller coven and religious work separately from the main social group. Many practitioners do not belong to any group. As our community grows, many are becoming elders, having spent much of their adult life learning and teaching the ways of the Craft. As a religion that requires no intermediary between an individual and Deity, many are working hard to become their own Priests and Priestesses—some more successfully than others.

But there are many who do not have the time or dedication to become a well-trained Priest/ess, assuming good training can be found. These people desire ritual service (which elders are happy to provide) but this laity also wants pastoral counseling and help with real life problems, which the majority of our elders are not equipped to handle.

Members and elders of the community take great pride in their individuality and their group traditions, and despise being told what to do. A community based project or program would be the only real way to help them directly. My idea for a program would be to sit down with leaders and elders in the community and work to solve this pastoral counseling problem. I think we can all agree that there is a lack of education here, but some good experience. Because Pagans and Wiccans come from diverse professional backgrounds, it is likely that there are skills in the community that can be shared and catered to the Pagan population. The goal would be to create a clergy education program that is sustainable, applicable and accessable.

Principles

  1. Strengthening families in our time must be done mostly by families themselves, working democratically in local communities.
    1. For our purposes, Pagan and Wiccan groups, groves, hearths and covens are often tight like family. Some groups are close to other groups, while others seem disconnected from everybody. The challenge will be to reach out and get representatives from all these disparate groups.
    2. The greatest untapped resource for strengthening families is the knowledge, wisdom, and lived experience of families and their communities.
      1. Because of our diverse professional and religious backgrounds and educations, we have much we can teach each other. Pagans are among the best educated religious groups today, with a strong majority holding bachelor degrees or higher.
      2. Families must be engaged as producers and contributors to their communities, and not just as clients or consumers of services.
        1. In our case, the community has an active dislike of being told what to do. Additionally, these groups often do not have monetary resources to consume many services.
        2. Professionals can play an important role in family initiatives when they learn to partner with families in identifying challenges, mobilizing resources, generating plans, and carrying out public actions.
          1. Pagans sometimes do not trust professionals because it is believed that their academic knowledge disagrees with the Pagan gnosis, but there is a recognition that they don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The community would want to know that the professional was familiar with Pagan thinking and living paradigms and not trying to somehow “convert” them to a certain way of thinking.
          2. If you begin with an established program, you will not end up with an initiative that is “owned and operated” by citizens. But a citizen initiative might create or adopt a program as one of its activities.
            1. There are already several Pagan seminaries of varying qualities. Many are expensive, aren’t aimed at the local community, or are somehow academically elitist. One that is “owned and operated” by the citizens would not feel that way.
            2. A local community of families becomes energized when it retrieves its own historical, cultural, and religious traditions about family life–and brings these into the contemporary world of family life.
              1. During planning phases of this project, we need to make a space for all voices to be heard and somehow come to a consensus about what to do. Each group will want their tradition respected in the process.
              2. Family and Democracy initiatives should have a bold vision (a BHAG–a big, hairy, audacious goal) while working pragmatically on focused, specific goals.
                1. They will need to be taught how to do this, and decide what the local level of involvement will be. The hardest part will be getting a commitment from people and then having follow-through.

Key Strategies for Implementing Action Initiatives

  1. Employ democratic planning and decision making at every step.
    1. Consensus is essential so that no one feels hurt and tries to sabotage the project. Perhaps utilizing Roberts Rules of Order will help formalize the process.
    2. Emphasize mutual teaching and learning among families.
      1. We will have to identify the strength that already lies in the community.
      2. Create ways to fold new learnings back into the community.
        1. Perhaps through a dissemination process, where representatives from groups are taught certain skills and take it back to their groups to teach others. It should be a very hands on process.
        2. Continually identify and develop new leaders.
          1. Pagans have problems with power struggles. We will need to utilize a procedure that is democratic and fair to prevent coups.
          2. Use professional expertise selectively–“on tap,” not “on top.”
            1. Professionals should make their expertise known to the community, rather than offer their services. The community should invite the professionals to talk or teach on certain subjects.
            2. Generate public visibility through media and community events.
              1. This will help disparate groups get involved, and build credibility for the religion in the eyes of the world. We will need a skilled person or team to coordinate this.
  1. Forge a sense of larger purpose beyond helping immediate participants.
    1. The group should create a mission statement that includes improving the community beyond the groves and covens. For example, service projects that are aimed at the public at large, and not just the Pagan population.
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