Designing as if All Things Are Related© – Part 2

Posted on October 2, 2013 by David Blumenkrantz

 Graphic from Whole Building Design Guide, 3.22.2012.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Several weeks ago my long time friend (notice I didn’t say “old friend”!) and award winning green building designer Chuck introduced me to a concept called Integrated Design Charrettes. It is a key ingredient in a whole building design approach that we discussed in Part 1 of the September Paradigm Shift Blog. This design process is almost identical to the process we have used for many years to help a community co-learn and co-create their own rite of passage. In order to achieve the goal of designing and building a structure that is aligned with its physical surroundings and is in balance with nature as well as meets the needs of those who will live, play, learn and work at the location, all constituency groups must be involved in the early design phase. “Planning and Conducting Integrated Design (ID) Charrettes” describes the process clearly. A whole systems integrated design process requires intimate conversations between all the constituency groups.

Our process for youth and community development through rites of passage shares the same view. We see rites of passage as both a strategy for affecting individual transformation and a process of organizing a community for a change. It is reciprocity. Initiating conversations in a particular setting or community between stakeholders, including youth, connecting with culture, ancestors, and nature are some of the essential ingredients that strengthen recruiting and engaging a Core Group or leadership team for the project. The Core Group, which includes youth, has a collective rite of passage as part of the design process. This enables them to come together, collaborate and have intimate and spirited conversation that focuses on designing and then implementing (building) their community’s rite of passage. Just as there are design principles that inform building physical structures, our work includes 20 design principles that help focus the inquiry and conversations.

So how does our process measure up with the conventional way that we work in education, human & youth services and rites of passage? There is a glaring difference. The conventional orientation is to replicate programs, especially those called evidence-based, into another setting with little input from those constituency groups that live, work, play, learn and grow in those settings or to engage people in programs manufactured without input from those involved in the program. Imagine one home design that is replicated with the same construction process in very diverse locations. For example, how would it look and work out if New England Colonials were built in Colorado ski towns or on the beach at Santa Monica?

Once a Core Group shares an initiation they are able to effectively collaborate and envision together what is possible for their community and children that might not have been possible before. The 20 design principles serve as navigational aids in this place based community organizing approach that uses the natural assets of the community, working together to develop their own rite of passage experience.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Einstein sayings: "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them."

For additional information about the 20 design principles of youth & community development through rites of passage visit Downloadable material is located on the home page. The June Paradigm Shift Blog also focuses on the design and installation of community oriented rites of passage.

For Part 1 of this article, click here.


© David Blumenkrantz, 2013. No permission is granted to copy, extract language or design principles, without appropriate reference and citation.

Posted in ROPE

Read more about Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage in the new and highly acclaimed book by Dr. David Blumenkranz.

David Blumenkrantz, Ph.D., Ed.M., Founder & Executive Director, the Center for Youth & Community

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