Open Collective
Open Collective
We've had so much fun this year!
Published on December 7, 2022 by Ian Campbell

2022 was our very first year, and it was so exciting! It was also challenging, in the very best way.

On September 16th, we hosted our first session with our very first cohort, bringing people together from Westside Presbyterian Church, Westside Learning Community, and Makarios Community School to talk about ways to better use the assets that they have together to build relationships with their neighbors- their individual immediate neighbors, the individual immediate neighbors of the church building, and their "emotional" neighbors from all over! 

We have held six life-giving, joy-producing sessions since! In these sessions, we've been:

  • Playing icebreaker games 
  • Discussing why good neighbors matter
  • Reflecting on our own neighboring stories 
  • Dreaming about our ideas of a better world, the obstacles preventing us from getting there, and discussing how neighborocracy uses small size, face-to-face forums of immediate neighbors where even the smallest voice can be heard to overcome these obstacles
  • Gathering up a plethora of tips for meeting neighbors we don't know and deepening our relationships with the ones we do
  • Coming up with a huge list of actionable experiments we are ready to try with our neighbors that will take us well into next year, including an upcoming "free stuff giveaway and potluck" we've invited our neighbors to.
  • Discussing Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and playing the "We Can" game to discover just how abundantly gifted this cohort is by virtue of people just being themselves
  • Using our newfound discoveries about what energizes us to connect our gifts to neighboring tasks needing to be done
  • Getting out there and going door-to-door to meet lots of awesome neighbors, inviting them to our potluck and making plans to pick up things they want to give away!
We are most grateful for the very constructive and transformative feedback we received from our cohort, who gave loving critiques and suggestions for ensuring that our cohorts are truly co-created with the people participating.  We made it clear from the very beginning that we were going to be intentionally wide open to feedback and criticism, and thanks to our participants, we take that criticism as a huge gift to Neighborocracy DFW! Most importantly, we shifted to focusing on building relationships Westside's emotional and physical neighbors, then feeding off the energy and lessons learned to take neighboring back into the communities where the individual members of Westside lay their heads at night. We had hoped to start with small experiments on each person's own block, then take those lessons into Westside's neighborhood but we are now flipping the order around. Since then, our last few sessions have been even more vibrant and fun than we could've imagined.

Meanwhile, we've been in talks with several local schools and church communities to train students to build Inclusive Neighborhood Children's Parliaments, spaces of child-led self-governance, in the new year. Children certainly seem to be the most promising and eager torchbearers of neighborocracy.

We have built deep relationships with people doing neighboring work in India, Syria, and Europe, and we have shared and learned so many tips. We are honored to know and learn from Father Edwin John, Swarnalakshmi Ravi, John Buck, Joseph Rathinam and others. They have taught us so many things and the prospect having American children co-creating their communities while federating globally with the Provisional World Children's Parliament is exhilarating! 

Financially, we have been doing most things on a gift basis. I (Ian) have been leading the cohort with no real charge for this first time, as we toy with the best ways to structure the modules and respond to feedback from the participants. We have received $20 (which went to paying back Ian for paying our website hosting fee) and some in-kind donations of food. We are working with the participants to decide what this cohort is really worth so we can have more consistent individual or group tuition for our future cohorts.

In 2023, we plan to host more cohorts in more churches and learning communities, to dive in deep into organizing Children's Parliaments, and to look into potential grants that can fund our work on a larger scale. 

We hope you will go on this journey with us in 2023, helping us weave together little democracies of neighbors both locally and globally!