Guest post — Ecosynomics: Improving Schools Strengthening Communities

Guest blog by Carol Gorelick

On April 16, 2014 I presented Harmonic Vibrancy/Ecosynomics at the STIA+ Conference, with an example from my ABC Connects work. ABC Connects began as a three year, Kellogg Foundation funded, action-learning project. The ABC Connects pilot used the Community School Based Learning Model as the framework to work with disadvantaged schools and communities in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and Detroit, Michigan U.S. A.

My approach was to set the stage for a new view of scarcity and abundance in the context of poverty in underserved and disadvantaged communities.  I began by asking the participants to identify their own feelings of scarcity (fear) and abundance (happiness). Then I described the situation in South Africa showing some slides, including the entrance to the Pefferville school building.  I went on to describe Detroit, including a picture of the Barbara Jordan School. (Click here for the PowerPoint presentation and here for the video of the talk.)

I asked: WHICH COMMUNITY REPRESENTS SCARCITY? WHICH ABUNDANCE?  The answer is obvious.  BUT/AND.  The answer was not so obvious when I showed pictures of children in a Detroit school and a video clip of a 9th grade South African boy, giving a passionate speech to his peers, at a community school event.  The presentation ended with the following questions:

  • WHY don’t all seeds get to fully grow and blossom?
  • WHY can’t all kids reach their full potential?
  • WHAT IF schools in need become sites of community empowerment?
  • WHAT IF all schools and communities were functioning at high vibrancy?

Carol Gorelick is co-founder and Executive Director of ABC Connects, working in the U.S. and South Africa to develop school-community partnerships that strengthen schools and build communities.  Having worked in large global companies, a consultancy, and taught at Pace University and the University of Cape Town in MBA and Executive MBA programs, Carol bridges the worlds of practice, capacity building, and research. She is founding board member of STIA+ and a former elected trustee of the Society for Organizational Learning and co-chair of the Executive Committee.

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