Institute for Community Development

The Institute for Community Development was established to:

  • enhance the capacity of members of a diverse communities to engage each other in a constructive manner:
    • authentically (describe personal truth in a manner that accepts short term discomfort for the sake of long term trust)
    • differentiated
      • separate out what happens to you (external stimulus) from what you do with what happens to you (internal processing)
      • take responsibility for your own construction of reality and defenses (become willing to learn), and encourage patterns of engagement that encourage non-defensive engagement
      • separate self from others (take responsibility for your projections)
      • separate out past from present (identify and address when past is an influential part of present)
      • find balance between being connected and separate – non enmeshed empathy
      • find balance between curiosity/support for others and challenging others
    • a non-reactive/non-anxious presence (be descriptive of emotional content as opposed to acting out emotions)
    • clear and organized (separate out and be descriptive of moment-by-moment attending, feelings, thoughts and wants in an spontaneous and organized manner)
  • enhance the capacity of diverse communities to efficiently collaborate in the midst of increasingly complex and rapidly changing performance conditions
  • enhance the capacity of diverse communities to execute structured issues management processes aimed at enhancing the quality of community life
  • enhance the capacity of diverse communities to integrate the requirements of managing change into issues management processes
  • help establish a balance between advocacy and integration of diverse interests (culture of collaboration in the midst of diversity)
  • translate human diversity into social and economic value
  • extend use of the systems/experiential/appreciative approach to individual and social development

Core Belief (systems/experiential/appreciative approach)

Individual and social development is to a great extent the result of the patterns of organizing and engaging within a social system.  Social systems that develop and maintain constructive patterns of organizing/engaging create conditions within which individuals, relationships and groups naturally grow.

The key to promoting constructive change (growth) in individuals, relationships and groups is not to primarily focus on changing the elements of the system (I try to directly change you) but rather to put effort into developing constructive patterns of organizing and engaging.  Constructive patterns of organizing and engaging encourage:

  • authentic, differentiated, non-reactive and skillful (structured) engagement between entities in a system
  • increase in self-awareness, constructive processing of experience, learning and adjustment
  • reduction in defensiveness (openness to learning and transformation)
  • self -claiming and acceptance (reduction in disassociation – strong we is made up of strong Is)
  • acceptance of other without loss of desire/ability to be appropriately challenging
  • appropriate distribution of responsibility
  • reduction in rigid attachments to particular aspects of self, beliefs, values etc. (attachments that prevent learning and growth)
  • appropriately paced and organized assessment and decision making processes
  • balance between recognizing/addressing gaps and identifying/amplifying strengths (problem solving and appreciative inquiry)
  • reasonable commitment to consensus as a primary form of decision making (with the understanding that more individually oriented leadership may be required to address dysfunctional behavior and patterns that may emerge)
  • mutual learning, innovation and flexibility
  • assessment and decision making processes that integrate the requirements of managing change


Advance the capacity of diverse communities to efficiently collaborate under increasingly complex and rapidly changing conditions by promoting constructive patterns of engaging and organizing


The health and development of an overall system and its elements is predominantly achieved by focusing on and shaping the patterns of organizing and engaging between the elements of a system.


To support the State of South Carolina in becoming a global best practice for (1) establishing a culture of efficient collaboration within increasingly diverse, complex and rapidly changing conditions, and (2) translating diversity into social and economic value


To engage diverse stakeholders and community members in a manner that helps establish both State and County level patterns of organizing and engaging that supports efficient collaboration within the process of enhancing community life


The institute has established a partnership with a variety of organizations (public, private, educational, social service etc.) that is referred to as the Community Enhancement Coalition.   The primary partners in this coalition are the College of Charleston, Denny’s, Charleston RiverDogs and the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.  The purpose of this coalition is to establish county and state level collaborative processes that support diverse stakeholders to enhance the quality of community life.

State Level (Practice)

Establish an annual set of events that brings leaders from different sectors and regions of the state together to examine and address the challenges and opportunities of being a diverse society (reflection frame).  Each event in this annual process addresses one of the 4 steps in the issues management process (systems/experiential/appreciative approach to issues management):

  • Start (continue) the conversation about the reflection frame (quarter 1)
  • Advance the conversation and establish a pattern of constructive conflict management (quarter 2)
  • Identify the network of causes/divers of key gaps/strengths (quarter 3)
  • Identify and support constructive action (quarter 4)

Each annual event (step in the process) will be conducted in coordination with a major sport event/team (e.g. 2nd event will be take place prior to a RiverDogs game) and a key date on the diversity/inclusion calendar (e.g. 2nd event will be integrated into the RiverDogs game that celebrates the life of Larry Doby, the first African American to play in the American baseball league).

The state-level process will mirror and provide a model for the issues management process that will be offered at the county level via a partnership between the Institute and the South Carolina Human  Affairs Commission (SCHAC).

County Level (Practice)

The institute has partnered with SCHAC to review, revise and develop; in collaboration with key stakeholders and community members; an end-to-end community enhancement process(es) that will be offered to each of the counties in South Carolina.  The key components of this new system are:

  • a structured and collaborative issues management process that incorporates a unique pattern of human engagement (based upon the system/experiential/appreciative approach to individual and social development)
  • an issues management process that identifies, examines and helps address the key contributors to the quality of community life (need for general maintenance, general enhancement, close gaps, amplify strengths)
  • a structured approach to issues identification and management that promotes critical analysis, appropriate momentum and prevents ineffective decision making patterns like:
  • being reactive – stampede to solutions
  • running out on the field on your own
  • saying yes but really meaning no
  • tossing the change football to others
  • reactive decision making (e.g. stampede to solution, tossing the change football to others, getting lost in chaos, paralysis by lack of appropriate of analysis etc.)
  • an issues management process embedded within a broader change management process (appreciate the complexities of individual and social change) and supported by a constructive pattern of engagement
  • an events management process that supports enhancing the quality of community life
  • an group relations management process that supports enhancing the quality of community life