The Close to Home Approach
Pacing and Timing
The Close to Home approach cycles through its phases multiple times over three to four years, and beyond. As the work matures and gains momentum, the sequence naturally loosens, as needs and opportunities within the community inspire the network to implement some phases simultaneously and even cycle back to phases out of sequence. This flexibility allows the network to respond to what arises in the community, while still being able to find itself in the process.
Network Development Basics
The core purpose of Close to Home’s community organizing approach is to set in motion the growth of a community network that can co-create actions for domestic and sexual violence prevention. A network does away with traditional delineations of leaders and followers, and create ways for an expansively growing group of people to work together, nimbly and effectively. However, an underlying structure of roles and responsibilities still underpins the network development.
A group of community members, organizers, or a local organization initiates and facilitates the pacing of the approach. They also manage the funding, evaluation, and reporting, and build collective responsibility for the integrity of the work. Above all, they foster the creation of dynamic, safe, open, and fun spaces that invite the engagement and leadership of others.
The organizers/organization recruit other community members who are passionate about the issues and interested in creating change. These community members bring an essential and equal voice to the process and become known as “network members.” To engage the cross-section of people required for social norm change, the organizers/organization actively mobilize the participation of community members from three core groups (either simultaneously or over time):
- organizational/civic life
The “network” becomes a combination of the initiating organizers/organization and the ever-growing group of network members. Together, they engage other community members in taking action for change. Many of these community members join the network themselves, causing the network to grow into a dynamic presence in the community.
How the Process Changes Social Norms
Once the process is well underway, typically more than one campaign/action is unfolding at one time, with community members encountering these in various parts of their day, while meeting diverse people in their social networks who are engaged. The multiple exposures and growing support add credibility and momentum until the proposed ideas and actions begin to feel like the new normal. At the same time, network members are gaining new knowledge and skills related to domestic and sexual violence prevention, and they are applying these to their own lives based on the network’s belief that change starts with ourselves.
Amid the crazy journey of this work are beautiful surprises that in time reveal themselves as reliable results of the process. From our experiences to date, the outcomes are as follows:
At an individual level, the process leads to changes in fundamental values and how these values guide how we choose to be in the world and in our relationships.
Among social networks, the process inspires family, friends, and neighbors to transform their own cultures, including what is expected and accepted and how to support one another.
At the community level, the process fosters conversations that lead to new priorities, with new policies and procedures giving everyone the power to take responsibility for ending violence.
When combined, these changes in values, cultures, and priorities have the potential to lead to structural changes—shifting patterns of domination and exploitation, and in turn, redistributing and holding power and love together.