The magic of building community starts with small wins. That is one of the secrets that Milenko Matanovic, Founder of Pomegranate Center, shares with everyone he can.

Milenko, speaking at the Building Sustainable Communities Conference, was a gold nugget find!! He complemented my image of the human hive with engaging stories about practical actions that the Pomegranate Center  (in Issaquah WA) has catalysed during a series of remarkable community projects over the last 25 years.

Do you remember the last time you avoided a public meeting related to sustainability issues, you knew you should attend? Did you feel guilty because you knew the intentions were aligned with what you believed needed to be done? But did you feel defeated before you started because your experience at the last meeting was so depressing? Was it because the last time you went, you felt ignored? you were bored to tears? you hated the confrontations? you felt uneasy? nothing changed? Did you encounter what Milenko has called the 4 Horsemen of Community Inaction: NIMBY’s, naysayers, curmudgeons and grandstanders?

In terms of the human hive, these are the core of Conformity Enforcers, resistant to change that will offer resilience to sustain the hive. These folks are unwilling to listen or respond to any of the ideas put forward by the Diversity Generators.

But if you were at a meeting of the Human Hive, which Milenko facilitated, he would offer three core resources that would unsnarl the blockages and cultivate the community that can support sustainability. (These are documented in Pomegranate Center’s fast and free handbook – see the link below). Milenko shares simple guidelines of Civility, Inquiry and Creativity.

Civility lies at the core of Milenko’s Community Building approach. (It is related to the Intelligence we call Storytelling or Cultural Intelligence in Integral City.) The simple rules are:

  • Share airtime: Everyone participates; no one is allowed to dominate
  • Assume that together we know more: Work to understand the assumptions, opinions, and ideas of
  • others
  • Reject the culture of blame: Be tough on ideas, gentle on people
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes: Represent those not present

Inquiry complements Civility with its invitation to participate.(It is a close cousing to the Intelligence we call Inquiry Intelligence in Integral City.) Its simple rules are:

  • Open your ears and your mind: Listening is NOT just waiting for your turn to speak
  • Do your homework: Understand the problem and its history
  • Look for common solutions: Then commit to them
  • Seek the community’s highest good for both present and future

Creativity builds on Civility and Inquiry to enable differences to emerge shared capacity. (It is related to the Intelligence we call Meshworking Intelligence in Integral City.) The simple rules here are:

  • Forge Multiple Victories: The best ideas solve more than one problem at a time
  • Explore unconventional approaches: New conditions demand new solutions
  • Turn opposition into proposition: Instead of fighting a weak idea, come up with a better one
  • Transform differences into gifts: Arguing over the differences among us wastes money, time, resources, goodwill, and talent. Exchanging ideas with others leads to greater insights, and more inclusive, creative solutions
  • Change your mind in light of new information: Do your part to create an atmosphere where
  • meetings are about discovery and collaboration, not platforms for convincing others that your idea is
  • king
  • Maintain the balance between heart and mind, knowledge and intuition, expertise and passion

I recommend that you download your own copy of Pomegranate Center’s, (click and download) Building Better Communities Handbook – each page is full of processes and resources that build healthy and sustainable human hives.