Generalist Practice BP11: THE FINAL BLOG

GP2 Final Blog Post

 

What are three things you LEARNED from this course and what is one thing you will DO as follow up?

 

I have learned a lot from Generalist Practice that I will use in my social work career. One thing that I have learned are ice breaker activities. I’ve already started using these in small groups. Although small, these things have been integral in building relationships between the girls and me as well as within the girls’ friendships themselves.

I’ve learned about census tracts and how to read census data to learn about the population I am serving. It would never have occurred to me to use this tool until I learned about it in class. It gives me a better idea of who I am serving, what their assets and unique needs are, and how to formulate an effective intervention.

I’ve learned about the framework of a smart community, and how some communities use their resources and human capital to better themselves in the face of “wicked problems”. I’ve reflected on my own community and the other places I have lived. I’ve also considered my place in my community and what I do to build up the community I live in.

One thing I will do as follow-up is keep in touch with my cohorts who have similar interventions within their communities. I found it interesting that, during census tract presentations, many interventions that were formulated were school based. Those interventions were all unique and can be used to benefit lots of communities. I will use all of these interventions to inform my practice going forward, should I choose to stay in a school setting.

 

Generalist Practice Blog Post 10: A job for teens with developmental disabilities

Explain the importance of evaluation as a concept.

In the Krajewski et al., please summarize the findings of the program as reflected in the program evaluation.

Good Tuesday Morning! This topic is one that is near and dear to my heart, as I worked with adults with developmental disabilities in a day program and supported employment program in Longmont, Colorado. Even though these individuals were younger than the people with whom I worked, it is apparent (and something that I knew long before reading the article) that, had the caregivers of the people with whom I’d worked received training at a young age to enter the workforce, many more of them would have been equipped to take a job. And the job could have been potentially more challenging and rewarding than the jobs that many of them had.

Evaluation as a concept is important because it give insight into the usefulness and effectiveness of programs, resources, surveys, etc. Without evaluation, we would never know if a program like the one described in the article as well as the program in which I worked was beneficial or simply a waste of time. Evaluation saves organizations money in the long-term. An organization can determine if a program is working and pull out if it is not. Evaluation finds strengths and weaknesses in a program. A smart organization or community knows how to capitalize on those strengths and tap into the appropriate resources to shore up the weaknesses.

I love that this program was based in the performing arts, my other life path. I’ve had the privilege of directing a group of adults with developmental disabilities in a music and theatre performance in Boulder, Colorado. We worked on it for weeks, and the pride that they took in the finished product literally brought tears to my eyes. A study like the topic of this post shows how something like that production could help increase job and life skills for these people.

According to the study, 75% of the students who participated in the program exceeded expectations (pp. 172) of the program. Some points of intervention that were discovered were areas like ‘staying in assigned areas’. The results also determined that the program is too short (6 weeks) to make big structural adjustments, so in the future the program designers can extend the length of the program to increase those benefits. There were six students who could not handle the program and were dismissed because of poor behavior choices.

There were challenges to the program, primarily the sheer volume of tasks to be completed. Overall, this program appeared to be highly effective. It gave an outlet to those who tend to be marginalized. These kids were not only developmentally disabled but were also from low-income families. The program proved to be empowering for these youth as they were able to see this project through to the end.

Imagine if you were in the same situation? How proud do we feel when we take on what seems to be a monumental task, and then we are able to see its success? It feels pretty good.

Krajewski, E. R., Wiencek, P., Brady, S., Trapp, E., Rice Jr., P. (2010). Teaching employable skills to special education youth: An empowerment approach. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(1), 167-176.

Generalist Practice BP9:

Citing Bryson (Chapter 1), what is strategic planning, what does it measure, and why is it necessary? Literally how do we strategically plan?

The Bryson reading (pp. 7-8) defines strategic planning as a deliberative, disciplined approach to producing fundamental decisions and actions to shape and guide what an organization (or other entity) is, what it does, and why.

Strategic planning gathers data for analysis that helps identify flaws and areas of improvement in communities. It helps those involved formulate specific, measurable, and achievable goals and missions for their chosen task, intervention, business, organization, community, etc. It helps discover any and all weaknesses now and for the future. It enhances organizational learning, and it helps create value for the public.

Strategic planning is necessary because a person or organization fares best when all possibilities for success and failure have been explored and discussed. For instance, if a person wanted to start a community organization that offered free lunches and dinners for low-income community members (like a soup kitchen or Meals on Wheels), strategic planning would help to discover whether or not that kind of service was actually needed in a particular area. Strategic planning would help the organizers determine what the pitfalls might be in a particular community that would need to be addressed before moving forward (limited transportation access, food deserts, etc). It would help set up goals for the immediate future that could be built on (feeding 100 people the first week, feeding 500 in the coming weeks, with the number increasing based on need in the community, expanding to a larger facility, increasing the variety of foods available, community donors, etc).

Strategic planning is imperative when discovering and abiding by laws in the area. We don’t know what we don’t know, and bringing together like-minded individuals who understand the laws ensures that the organization is following those laws.

There are three basic principles of strategic planning that can be expanded upon in most situations (Bryson pp. 11):

  1. Where we are.
  2. Where we want to be.
  3. How to get there.

These statements are basic but, once fleshed out and expanded, lay the groundwork for success in any organization. These items can and should be revisited when an organization hits a snag and cannot seem to move forward. Going ‘back to the basics’ reminds everyone of the mission of the organization and, hopefully, gets everyone back on the same page of where we’re going.

Keeping these things in mind promotes strategic thinking, improve decision making, and enhances organizational responsiveness, effectiveness, and resilience (Bryson pp. 14-15).

 

Generalist Practice BP 8: Community Group Leadership

 

    Referring to Brueggeman’s article, what are 3 ways that social workers build community in groups through their leadership? Please explain your answers and give 2 concrete examples of how you have seen these elements accomplished in your own group experiences.

We’re back from Spring Break! This week has had a slow start, and I’m already looking forward to the summer. The quicker we can get done, the quicker we can get to graduation next Spring, right??

How do social workers build community in groups through their leadership?

  1. Gather People Together-as social workers, especially those in a macro environment, we have opportunities to gather people together for a multitude of reasons. Mobilizing community groups for a common purpose gives those groups a sense of belonging and power. In my practicum, I bring groups of kids together for several purposes. One is a group of 4th grade girls that meet to talk about bullying. They talk about their experiences and how to be better friends. Another time I’m able to gather a group is in the larger classroom setting. We talk about social skills, and the children learn how to navigate through the school appropriately.
  2. Express Feelings-social workers have the unique opportunity to motivate others to talk about their feelings. It is our job to create a safe environment for this to happen. In my personal experience, I have attended 12-step groups where the participants were encouraged but not obligated to share their feelings and experiences. One primary motivating factor was the promise of confidentiality in these groups. As a group leader in a school setting, I use open-ended questions and talk about my own experiences to motivate young group members to disclose their own feelings. This encourages the members and shows them they are not alone, and there is a trusted adult who has been through what they might be going through.
  3. Build Confidence-by building trust and showing group members that they are not alone in this world, a social worker can help those group members build confidence. Once confidence is built and maintained, those group members can begin to exact change in their own lives should they choose to do so. With children, confidence-building begins with teaching them a skill set. I led a group of children with anxiety issues, and through a structure curriculum, I was able to teach them tools for coping with their anxiety. Does this work all the time? No. But they feel better knowing they have the right tools to help themselves when they can. As a student in a cohort, it comforts me and gives me confidence knowing that we are all able to help one another. We use social media to disseminate information to each other, and this builds confidence within the group.

Brueggmann, W. G. (2006). In The practice of macro social work. Chapter 4

Generalist Practice PB7: Greenville-Spartanburg, SC

As evidenced in the text, what are three ways that the leadership of Greenville-Spartanburg, SC “re-invent[ed] their future” through global partnership?

Global partnership is a tricky subject. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t push for a strong local economy but NOT at the expense of the local product. However, if Greenville had pushed for this it could have spelled certain death for this community. Globalization was imminent, so Greenville embraced it and have had this aura of inclusion and globalization since the 50s. Here is what the leadership did:

  1. Milliken and Tukey, local business leaders, both worked to transform the Upstate South Carolina area to make it appealing to foreign business investors. They did this by exploiting the pro-business attitude of the area and pushing its well-known worker training programs.
  2. They went overseas to encourage foreign investors to come to Greenville-Spartanburg and put down roots, thus making a personal investment in the area and bringing their businesses with them.
  3. They pushed for business incentives and legal amendments to further encourage foreign businesses to plant themselves in the market in Upstate.

Thinking of a community with which you are familiar (feel free to use OKC or Pittsburgh from the text), how did that community diversify and restructure their future? Give 2 concrete examples.

  1. This process began over 60 years ago for this community, and it took the insight of two skilled businesspeople to clear the way for the globalization that has happened in Upstate. Now the area is filled with international restaurants, stores, multicultural events, and schools.
  2. Because of the push for business incentives and amendments as well as the strong worker training programs, international businesses are still flocking to the area. The workforce is skilled and flexible, the geographic location is ideal, and the area has spent 60 years cultivating an inclusive and culturally sensitive environment in which these businesses and people thrive.

Although I did not grow up in the OKC metro area, I can still see the results of global inclusivity that has happened in the area. I do recall visiting OKC as a teen and seeing how little there was here. Now the area is booming with shops, restaurants, night life, businesses, and cultural centers like the Civic Center. OKC has a strong sense of historic preservation as well, as there are memorials and museums all up and down the I-35 corridor and into the small communities. I am amazed at the volume of festivals scattered throughout the state and the amount of participants that are drawn to them each year. Oklahoma City’s globalization and preservation efforts have benefitted, not only OKC metro, but I believe the state as a whole.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 6: Building a Leadership Plaza

Part 1: Please share what 2 changes/additions you made to your website (note if they were peer suggested or your own ideas) and explain your reasoning behind it.

Shelby suggested that I add a pictures, add and About Me section, and delete my test “This is a Test” blog. I did all these things. I added one picture of myself at the end of my About me section. I also added an archive to my sidebar as well as a calendar. I think these changes add personality to my blog. I think they also make my blog a little more user friendly and fun for people to navigate. I’m having fun with this and look forward to making some more changes as the semester goes on.

I also added a Tags and a Categories section to increase ease of navigation.

 

Part 2: Using citations and key points from the Morse Chapter 7 (“Growing New Leaders”) text, explain 3 important elements of building a “leadership plaza.”

According to the text, a leadership plaza is “open, inviting opportunities to put the whole community to work for the community. (Morse, 2014, pp. 166)”

I think the first significant piece of building a leadership plaza is in the leaders that are elected. A good example is from Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston, SC and his commitments to his community (Morse, 2014, pp. 156-157)

  • Open government for everyone, so everyone feels they can participate.
  • Historic preservation, so we can learn from the past and keep those things protected.
  • Strategic, long-term planning and follow-through for the future to keep the community constantly revitalized.

Building a leadership plaza also includes protection of the children in that community. In Harlem in NYC, Geoffrey Canada developed the Harlem Children’s Zone to provide a safety net that would offer support for the kids that live within a 100 block range in Harlem. They offered social, educational, and health support for these kids (Morse, 2014, pp. 158).

Finally, good leaders working within that leadership plaza are looking to the future. Programs like Kansas Health Foundation (Morse, 2014, pp. 162) and Horizons (Morse, 2014, pp. 163) are looking long-term when solving issues like poverty and health. They understand that “wicked” problems can’t be solved in six months. Most can’t even be solved within a year. They create long-term projections and are willing to stick to them and see them through, even during the times when it appears that nothing is happening. It’s hard when we live in a society that is obsessed with instant gratification.

It’s good to read about how these communities have set themselves up for a good future, but it is still a bit frustrating to think of how long one must wait to see the fruits of their labor. But that’s what good leaders do.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use

       strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco:

Jossey-Bass.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 5: Preserving the Past in LoDo

Two-part Blog Post:

Part 1: On your blog, name 3 changes you recommend for your peers’ website.

I paired with Shelby Reeves and looked at her website. I would add or change the following:

Add an “About” section. A prospective employer would want more information about her from this section.

I would change the color scheme. The pink is a little sugary.

Add a picture or two for some more visual interest.

I like that her blogs are archived by month. I need to figure out how to do that with mine.

Part 2: Name a town from Morse Chapter 6 “Preserving the Past” and write about the problem faced by the town and two ways they successfully preserved their past. Cite aspects of importance from supportive text/articles.

I LOVE that Denver is included in this chapter! I lived for almost six years in Broomfield, Colorado, which is part of Denver metro and have spent many a fun night in Lower Downtown (LoDo for short).

As with most of the country, Denver was hit hard during the Recession in the 80s. Unemployment was high, and businesses were vacating Denver at an alarming rate. Office buildings were at a 31% vacancy rate. Mayor Pena was looking for a way to revitalize the town and bring activity back to the city and preserve the history. During this time, historic buildings were being torn down and the land used for parking lots. A group of eight preservationists met at breakfast and were concerned that this was happening and fought to preserve the history of Denver.

This group proposed building a civic center in LoDo in exchange for stricter controls of what could be demolished to protect the historic buildings. When the group was challenged as being too small to take on such a large task, they joined forces with the Mayor and became a 28-person task force to take on the demolition companies and preserve the historic buildings.

It took two decades to complete, but now LoDo is thriving. The Chamber of Commerce has since moved to LoDo, there is a baseball team, and there are clubs, restaurants, shops, and high-end apartments throughout the area. Breckenridge Brewery is also there, which is a personal favorite.

Denver boasts that it was one of the first cities to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. I don’t know about this, but I was living there at the time. They seemed to recover quickly, and I wonder if it is because they employed some of the same techniques that they used in the 80s. They also legalized marijuana during this time, but that is another conversation for another day.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Generalist Practice 2 Blog Post 4: Community Studies

Referencing the Hardcastle article, please explain the 4 types of community studies (field work study, community power structure study, community analysis study, and problems and services study), using 2-3 sentences to describe each one.

I’m going to try to tie each one of these studies to the city of Norman in some way.

Field Work Study: This is a holistic-type study that works over time, is informal, and works through interviews and observations of a particular community. Ideally, a researcher would be able to get the working history of a community through these observations and interviews. There is also face-to-face work with members of the community called “informants.” Someone coming into Norman to do one of these studies would be in contact with families who have been here, say, 40 years or longer, founders of local businesses (Republic Bank, for instance), leaders of churches like McFarland, and members of the Norman Public School board. Their collective stories would give an overview of life in Norman.

Community Power Structure Study: This type of study uses interviews, surveys, and library investigation studies to determine who has the power and exerts influence in a community. They are by definition designed to determine where the power structure lies in a community. A list of names of who in a community has power usually arises out of this type of study. In Norman, I believe the power structure would indicate strong leadership coming from the mayor, the city council, local business owners and operators, pastors of large churches, and leadership from the University (like David Boren).

Community Analysis Study: This type of study seems to be highly quantitative. This involves analysis based on who the leaders are in a community and where they see the community heading in the future. There is an analysis of factual documents that help researchers and community leaders support and respond to the needs of a the community in a certain way. In Norman, this would involve a look at historical documents, budget documents provided by the city council and the NPS board, as well as other pertinent quantitative information.

Problems and Services Study: This type of study looks into the specific problems in a community and what services are available in that community that can address the problem. Doing these types of studies helps show researchers and community leaders where the big needs are in a community and would help inform a search for services to meet those needs. If something needs to be brought in to meet a need, this is where they would start. Norman’s east side could be studied regarding problems and services. My practicum is at Kennedy, and a problems and services study might show that there are a lot of families at or below the poverty line. Fortunately, most of the social service outlets in Norman are on the east side and are more easily accessible to those with limited transportation and resources.

 

 

Generalist Practice Blog Post 3: NASW Day at the Capitol

For those who attended the Capitol experience: Write about 5 specific things you learned (or were reinforced) from the NASW Day at the Legislature and how you will use them to impact your work on a macro level in your career as a social worker.

Today was an eye-opening day at the Oklahoma state capitol. I started the morning with a tour, followed by check-in and talks by the NASW president Frannie Pryor and lobbyist Kara Joy McKee. After lunch was a panel discussion with Oklahoma legislators from both sides of the political aisle. They all appeared moderate and eager to work with the NASW and other helping professions. There was a brief discussion of their stances on certain things and a quick rundown of some bills that are coming up during this session that might be of importance to social workers. Then we were sent off to meet our reps and talk with them about issues that were pertinent to us and our profession.

I learned a lot today. There were things I learned that I would have been happier not knowing.

  1. My state senator, Rob Standridge, supports taking public education funds and filtering it to private and homeschools. He even talked with some homeschool parents about the loopholes he knows about and ways to get that money into their hands. I’m not anti-private and homeschool. I went to private school for three years, and I was homeschooled for a year and a half. My best education, however, came from public schools. Taking money from public school funds and filtering it into the private sector cheats our children and our teachers out of funds they so desperately need. How can the governor complain about our public school systems when she is allowing this to happen on her watch?? In my macro-practice, the way I would combat this is through lobbying for public education.
  2. The NASW has put out a document to go with the Trump presidential transition called Advancing the American Agenda. We had a brief reading of this document that covered some highlights, but I clearly need to read it in its entirety. Reading this document would give me clarity on where my association stands on the new presidency and how to support my clients as they try to make sense of the things that are happening to them. It has been made clear that many of the social programs that benefit the children with whom I work are at risk of being cut. Even if there is little I can do about those cuts, at least I’ll know where the NASW stands and can use that and the Code of Ethics to support my practice.
  3. I learned that not everyone in the State House and Senate hates each other and hates democrats. The panel was made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, and they were all civil and supportive of one another. I found this heartening. I think it’s a good way to demonstrate civility to the citizens of the state. I can tell groups in my practice that our representatives are civil and supportive of each other and of the work we’re doing. It might help community leaders feel more comfortable approaching them on issues that are important.
  4. I learned that I need to read the 2017 OK Legislative Primer if I’m going to have a prayer of being informed! I’ve not yet read it, and I didn’t even know what to ask my representative (who I did not get to meet with because he was in another meeting). It reminded me of the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Staying informed on policies that effect the populations with whom I work is imperative in a macro setting.
  5. I learned about the importance of the handwritten letter. I’d read about this in an NASW-Texas article on lobbying and grassroots efforts. Admittedly, I dismissed it as something that no one ever has time for. And maybe that’s right. And that might be why those hand written letters are so special when they pass across the desk of a senator or state rep. It means that someone took the time to write down, pen and paper, their needs and concerns for themselves, their families, and their communities. If I need to strongly advocate for my community but can’t schedule an appointment to meet with my representatives, there is nothing quite as special as a handwritten letter. I’ll start using them more often.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 2: Challenge and positive impact in Allentown, PA

Choosing one of these three communities from your readings (Allentown, PA [Morse], post-Katrina New Orleans evacuees [Cortes], or Harmony Elementary in CA [Cortes]), describe one way the community was challenged as cited by the text and two ways the struggle positively impacted its growth.

Good morning!

I’m blogging from home instead of my classroom because I have a kiddo who has finally succumbed to the crud, whatever it might be. His chubby cheeks are flushed with fever, but he seems content to lie on the couch beside me and watch PBS Kids this morning.

Let’s talk about the community of Allentown, PA today and their struggle for relevance and viability.

Post-World War 2 Rust Belt was drastically impacted when the U.S. decided it just didn’t need as much steel as it had been using. We saw the steady decline over the decades and then the sharp drop-off during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 when the U.S. government had to bail out the Detroit auto industry. Detroit still hasn’t recovered, but they’re working on it. That’s another commentary for another time.

Few Rust Belt communities were spared this setback, but how they handled it is the topic of this post. The text contrasts Allentown, PA and Youngstown, OH.

When faced with this financial setback of declining demand in the steel industry, Allentown was set up respond positively to the changes. Lehigh University, local businesses, non-profits, and local government were all set up with overlaps to help with a positive response and an actual tightening of the community knitwork. Local communications companies were regularly updating themselves  to stay technologically relevant in the wake of a major change. Because of the overlaps in place, these changes that became necessary were feasible.

The community had been purposefully diversified to maintain a wealth of knowledge coming from several areas. When push came to shove, they were all able to come together and form their own think tank to tackle the problems. They supported one another, learned from one another, and used their collective intelligence to overcome the issues that came with the decline in their livelihood.

Youngstown, on the other hand, fought with their government. They pushed back against new ideas, businesses, and companies that might want to come in and revive the area. They suffered as a result.

I know a LOT of people from Youngstown. I lived near Boulder County, Colorado for six years, and there was a pocket of folks from Y-Town who worked with my non-profit. It was apparent to me that they had suffered in some capacity. They were all edgy, vulgar, and had a desperate air about them. I loved them because they were so raw and real as people. Reading about the issues in Youngstown clarifies for me the issues they faced as a community at large. They were fleeing a collapsing infrastructure. Interesting read.

Jill

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use

strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.