Building connections and working together differently won’t just happen automatically because we want it to. The OCWC introduces people to a mindset shift, a new way of thinking about ourselves and others, that drives the changes we want to see. We call this the Restorative Community mindset.
Most of us have grown up learning to think about problems and problem-solving. While there is nothing wrong with solving problems, this way of thinking usually ends up in conversations that follow the same pattern: identify what is wrong, broken, or missing in the community; blame someone else or some other group for the problem (“if only they would..., or would not…”); expect that only “the leaders” or “experts” can solve the problem (if we just hire the right leader, elect the right person…); assume that it is someone else’s job to fix the problem; and finally, focus on what we need but don’t have to address the problem (enough money, enough time, volunteers, expertise, and so on.) Sound familiar? We call this the “Stuck Community” mindset.
Restorative Community thinking turns the stuck community mindset on its head. Instead of seeing our community (or youth, or unemployed, or seniors) as broken and needing fixing, we practice thinking about the possibilities for our community. What possibility inspires us, gets us excited about the future? Instead of looking only to leaders or experts, we invite everyone affected by the challenge at hand to have a voice and contribute to solutions. Instead of blaming others, we ask ourselves what we have done (or not done) that has contributed to the very situation we want to change. We practice taking ownership for the changes we seek. And instead of focusing on what we lack, we embrace the truth that we have the right people, with the right knowledge, and enough resources to start. We do not have to wait for anyone or anything to begin creating the future we seek.
This mindset shift is not the whole answer, but the Collaborative believes it is an essential part of creating the solutions we want as communities.