Organizing For A Change – Part 2, Design & Installation Principles

Posted on June 12, 2013 by David Blumenkrantz

If you want to build a ship, then don't drum up men to gather wood, give orders, and divide the work.  Rather, teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea.

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Untitled-4 Graphic by Nancy Sylvia

Twenty, Ten & Fourteen – Navigational Aids for Charting a Course

Installing rites of passage in large systems and communities is a creative challenge.* Twenty-elements emerged over the past 33 years to form design principles that can help guide a community in the development of their own rites of passage.

We also discovered ten minimum community-organizing conditions necessary for the seeds of rites of passage to grow in a community. Certain conditions support people learning together and then co-create ways for the twenty elements to emerge in their rite of passage experience.

The Core Group
One of the minimum conditions is a Core Group. It includes youth and adults who are centrally involved in all aspects of co-learning and co-creating rites of passage, adapting the 20 elements for their setting. The Core Group becomes a community’s first group of “initiated” people. They explore what rites of passage are and adapt it to the unique culture and context of their community. Strong relationships develop between members of the Core Group that become a powerful force and the primary way to influence and foster lasting change in their setting. There are fourteen key ingredients for forming and strengthening the Core Group.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

Design Principles Aid Navigation
Another one of the ten minimum conditions necessary for installing community-based rites of passage is: community, organization and education leaders with vision and a commitment to rites of passage as a way to organize for a change. They recognize the reciprocity between an individual and the organization in any process for change. The psyche of an individual is a central part of a living system, which is the collectivity of all individual consciousness manifested in the attitudes, values and actions of an organization.

Lessons from History
In almost all cases where a rite of passage organizing for a change approach has taken hold there was at least one person who immediately “got it.” People who’ve been in the military or scouts or sports teams seem to get it. Others who’ve had powerful unexpected experiences, such as the death of a close friend or family member “get it.”

They are able to understand rites of passage because they experienced it and remember its impact. Transformation through rites of passage is possible when a person who “gets it” has influence within an organization or community. And, this person wants to tell their rite of passage tale as a way to share the potency of this experience. Sharing their story compel others to explore and share their own rite of passage experience stories. A Core Group organizes itself through sharing these special stories of personal transformation. “What’s the Story?” is one of the other early design principles for organizing rites of passage.

Initiation of youth is inextricably related to community development and awakening youth to their connection and place within their family, community, ancestors, nature and the Universe. This informs the formation of a child’s identity. When leaders have experience with initiation and rites of passage they are able to understand and help others understand the significance and essential reason for its renewal for the life of our children and the future of society. They have been down a path of initiation and can guide others into and through the process.

For more information, please read “Installing ROPE® in Your Community."


We use the term “install” to name the implementation process of the ROPE® initiative.  This is intentional and aligns this process with the creation and placement of a work of art in a community.  We believe that engaging in a ROPE® initiative is as much about art as it is science, perhaps more so.

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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