Discovery allows ICP to build its capacity to develop conceptual frameworks, uncover community-based solutions, support community engagement and develop practice models on the critical factors needed to address structural issues and sustain healthy growth and development. There are four aspects in every discovery project: staff directed and commissioned research; environmental scans for best practices and promising approaches; national convenings of funders, practitioners and other experts; and community-based demonstration.

Community-Based Demonstration:
During community-based demonstration, ICP engages community to implement homegrown solutions to social problems and build visions for community peace. This process includes:

Collaboration. ICP defines collaboration as a practice that brings together a diverse and broad constituency in a united effort to address community issues and create change. Collaboration involves each member in equally sharing power and risks to implement individual and community solutions to social problems. We support a community’s ability to move beyond crisis-driven responses and toward reflection and long-term planning that serves a broader pro active vision for community growth and development.

Resident Engagement & Community Organizing. Resident engagement is core to ICP’s work. We believe that those most affected by social problems should be meaningfully engaged (as leaders and full members) in work that addresses the problem as they perceive it. This strategy recognizes the power of the community to develop and promote alternatives to prevailing practices and policies.

Program Development, Evaluation & Sustainability. Evaluation provides critical information to communities as they implement their visions for change and supports their ability to focus on sustainability from the outset. ICP’s work fosters the development of community-based processes that focus on critical reflection and adjustments to work.

Past Discovery

Preventing Violence through Community Action (1995-2005):
Our first discovery project, to bring a primary prevention focus to violence, occurred over a ten-year period. Within this demonstration we explored the need to link community building to violence prevention, the importance of framing media messages for violence prevention, and the importance of focusing on sustainability from the outset.

During this project ICP learned of core competencies need by communities to prevent violence and promote peace: • Engagement and mobilization
• Collaboration
• Sustainability
• Comprehensive analysis of community conditions
• Program planning, management and evaluation
• Understanding the relationships among race, power and peace

Communities receive education on these competencies through participation in ICP’s Immersion Training, a national capacity building program. Adding to practice in primary violence prevention, ICP developed a framework that describes the process in which communities engage as they move from crisis in violence to sustained peace. The Developmental Stages of Community Peace   [PDF download] delineates the themes, activities, and benchmarks that communities engages as they worked on preventing violence. We believe this developmental trajectory, rather than being specific to violence prevention, marks the path that communities might take as they engage any social issue.

Current Discovery: Structures & Change

In our first discovery project (primary violence prevention), ICP learned that while communities were able to prevent violence and build community, the real challenge was sustaining the changes long-term. As we learned more about structural forms, such as structural racism and structural violence and as we began to research sustainability, we began to understand that the key to sustaining community change lay in changing structures that contribute to the maintenance of specific social problems. We have discovered that a structure consists of three principles:

Cultural schemas: formal and informal rules, values, norms and representations that govern our social relations
Power relations: the way power is used to govern our relations and uphold cultural schemas
Resources: the tangible (i.e., financial) and intangible (knowledge, skills, abilities) assets of a community or society;

The interaction of these principles causes the development of an element that we have named:

Social Networks and Boundaries: the associations, groups, political parties and affiliations that are formed to maintain or contest structures and govern society. All together, these four work in concert to cement and sustain structural change.

Institute for Community Peace  •  410 4th Street, NE   •  Washington, DC 20002

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