12-Thinking-Tools-Paper-Cover“12 Thinking Tools for Bridges Out of Poverty Communities” by Philip DeVol is being presented in 12 separate blogs. The paper is for people who are already using Bridges concepts and want to deepen the work of their community collaboratives. Poverty is becoming increasing complex, requiring not only a new mindset but new tools that lead to out of the bubble solutions.

The second tool in the series outlines the concept of “mental models of economic class.”

Per DeVol, “In the United States, few of us know how people in other classes live. Social connectedness has been decreasing since the 1970s as income segregation in housing has separated us into economic enclaves. This has led to a lack of knowledge and understanding between/among the classes.” The three mental models, which can be viewed in the full segment here, were created to help address this issue.

How to use the tool:

  • Learn about poverty in your community by engaging Getting Ahead investigators and graduates. They can share the results of their investigations into poverty as it is experienced locally, their assessment of community, and their mental model of community prosperity.
  • Include Getting Ahead graduates as speakers and facilitators during Bridges workshops and events, poverty simulations, and media events. Use knowledge of the environments and hidden rules to navigate new settings more skillfully.
  • Use knowledge of the environments and hidden rules to navigate social settings more skillfully.
  • During meetings, establish a safe setting and process so people can speak freely about hidden rules that are broken.
  • Design programs so that hidden rules that break relationships are brought to light, then eliminated.
  • Provide leadership training for people in poverty who want to serve on boards.

To gain further understanding, please read the full segment on this concept here.

Phil DeVol is co-author of Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities and author of Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by-World.