Mutual Learning, Cultural Change, Participation, Action.

The first bullet point in the definition of participation from Ray Lorenzo’s “A Participation Cook Book,” is “knowing clearly the ‘rules of the game.'” The rules of any game are usually confusing at first. The time it takes for a participant to understand them is all dependent on the person explaining the rules. The better the explanation, the shorter the instruction time.

Rules are set in place usually to keep people safe or provide for the wellbeing of the whole. Why then do people choose to not obey the rules? If they are in place for the good, why are so many people not willing to conform to them? Even the simplest of rules some people still choose to ignore. I agree that understanding the rules should be the first bullet of the definition of participation. I also believe that this is not enough which Ray describes with the rest of his definition and article. Understanding what is expected of someone does not guarantee the person to follow through.

Participation is necessary for success in any project, organization, or community. On Sunday, I saw volunteers come together in the freezing cold to clean up the salotto con vista. The number of volunteers was impressive and there work ethic unbelievable.

This past year, I was the head of an organization which has been around for 147 years. I found that the hardest part of my job was getting people to participate. After reading the article, I believe the biggest step I missed was informing them of the benefits they would get from participation. Most of the time people are informed of what will happen if they chose not to participate which is where people decide to go against the system. Understanding what is asked of someone and then the benefits that person will receive must go hand in hand.

Through our adventure on the terrace and Ray’s article, I will take back with me an important lesson about what participation truly entails. It requires mutual learning by all parties involved. The biggest difference I discovered was the cultural change of the way you approach a project. Letting the community know the benefits they will receive from their work. The overall description of participation will create action. Comprehension of both the rules and the benefits is the approach I wish I would have known last January. I am looking forward to continuing to learn strategies for working with others. Especially since the people of Borgo Bello are such great individuals to work with!

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