Our goal is to create collaborative, socially engaged leaders who will push the boundaries of their disciplines to benefit entire communities. Pomegranate Center offers a “learning by doing” experiential program that challenges the way people traditionally participate in public meetings.
By reflecting on lessons learned, we are continually evaluating our educational materials to stay relevant and purposeful. The Pomegranate Method empowers others to take action creating resilient, transparent communities in which our collaborative practices promote deep listening and community-driven design.
In 2013 we introduced a set of six broad themes, or modules, that serve as reference points for a collaborative process. The “Pomegranate Method” organizes structured opportunities for critical thinking and skill building, and informs our core approach of hands-on application. Over the course of the training program, we dedicate in-depth class sessions to each of the modules, described below.
The Foundational Idea
The goal of this module is to provide students with a solid structure to effectively move forward with their initial idea. This module examines the beginnings of an idea and helps students develop it into a solid goal. In-depth discussions about the philosophy behind our human-centered, inclusive approach enables a broader perspective on laying the foundation for a project. From there, we introduce the concept of Ground Rules, setting very specific expectations for participants in community meetings.
Small Group Collaboration
The goal of this module is to reflect on guiding principles within the structure of a small group. Cultivating a small group to participate in the process creates optimal conditions for an idea to flourish. This module demonstrates how to form a steering group by identifying all of the players (even potential opponents) and inviting them to participate. Through demonstrations, discussion, case studies, site tours, and digital media, participants try-on different roles in a self-aware learning environment. Additional materials are introduced to help shape the structure of the process: Community Planning Timeline; Steering Group Job Description, Opportunities for Many Kinds of Participation; and Clarifying Goals and Idea worksheets.
The goal of this module is to instill leadership and facilitation techniques that encourage maximum participation. By forming a thoughtful presentation and collecting ideas from the community at an early phase, co-ownership and transparency are established. Positive facilitation methods and adherence to ground rules nurture a communicative environment where opinions are respected and dynamic perspectives are encouraged. Managing public meetings is not for the faint of heart. The Pomegranate Method provides tools and strategies for effectively handling all types of situations. Focus includes: Structure & Tips for Organizing Community Meetings and Design Workshops.
The goal of this module is to show how a small victory builds confidence and stewards momentum. An early success is a hands on activity, often small in scale, but crucial to the process. Through teamwork and delegation, participants work toward a common goal that supports the final project. This process exercises critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and turning ideas into action.
The goal of this module is to create a lasting project, scaled appropriately, demonstrating what can happen when a community comes together and truly works collaboratively. In the final session of a training, a significant community project is completed which transforms lessons into hands-on civic engagement. Toolkit includes Sample Liability Form and Safety Agreement, Volunteer Work Plan and Construction Schedule, Budgeting, Outreach, Project Promotion.
The goal of this module is to inspire future projects drawing upon lessons learned and prove that community building is a renewable resource. Once participants have completed a training, our hope is that they will share the Pomegranate Method in their work and communities, spreading the message that meaningful community participation is not only possible and powerful but also results in a better finished product.