Community Building Workshops develop trust and enhance learning
Community Building Workshop prepares former offenders for reentry programming at Chattanooga Endeavors #SecondChances Click To Tweet

Community Building is a group intervention that increases collective capacity by improving trust among members. The method was developed by internationally-acclaimed psychiatrist and best-selling author, M. Scott Peck — and described in his books The Different Drum and A World Waiting to Be Born. Used in a wide rage of contexts around the world, Community Building teaches a set of simple communication skills that enhance collaboration, improve group performance, and increase productivity. In a concentrated and intensely personal three-day format, participants learn to:

  • Transcend the diversity of their backgrounds,
  • Enter into difficult dialogue gracefully, and
  • Both notice and be of service to the hidden order at work in their shared group experience.

While many people report private benefits from attending a Community Building Workshop, the method is specifically not group therapy. It is a group’s group — where the principal gain is a collective gain.

Community Building Enhances Training Outcomes

When properly integrated into training programs, Community Building improves the learning experience of their participants. In fact, research demonstrates that Community Building groups achieve significantly better training outcomes. This is because it prepares them to learn. For example, it deepens trust among participants, increases their hope for the future, and creates a sense of belonging to something positive outside themselves.

These properties can be tricky for helping professionals to achieve in their training programs. However, they surface in a very short period of time in Community Building Workshops. What’s more, they last for as long as the group remains together — serving as an adhesive force that promotes rapid teaming with high levels of productivity.

Robert E. Roberts, PhD (Sep 5, 1943 – Oct 14, 2013)

Project Return's Robert E Roberts and Nelson Marks pioneered the use of Community Building Workshops in prison

We instituted Community Building at Chattanooga Endeavors in 1996 with Robert E. Roberts, PhD. Bob’s pioneering work at Project Return demonstrated the unique value of providing helping services in the context of Community Building.

Bob introduced many groups to Community Building. However, only a few were able to implement it. And Chattanooga Endeavors alone was able to sustain it.

Although Project Return no longer exists, Bob’s legacy lives on: Both in the thousands of men and women who he helped to transition from prison to free society as well as in the work that Chattanooga Endeavors continues to do creating second chances for former offenders and their loved ones.

For more about Bob and his pioneering work at Project Return, check out his book, My Soul Said To Me. Or order a copy of the Chance Films documentary, Road To Return.