Monday, October 7, 2013

Empowerment Works - Global collaboration to catalyze local solution

Philosophy - What Guides our Work

With roots in international development, policy making and human security research, Empowerment WORKS (EW) began in 2001 with a 7 Stage, local asset-based approach to community development. As a Global Betterment "Think-Tank in Action" (learning while doing), EW soon realized that "development" - and all that drives it - is part of an interdependent, whole-system, which can neither exist nor transform in a vacuum. Also understanding the need to change thinking before anything else will change, EW embraces a much deeper imperative to advance the philosophy of "asset based community-driven development" well beyond the "donor/non-profit/beneficiary" silo.

While making an immediate impact to create thriving communities; in all it does, EW represents a global paradigm shift from "linear and top down" to "Whole-System Empowerment through Collaboration" -- embracing the full potential of our planet's social, economic & ecological systems.

Philosophy in Action

  • Knowing that no one empowers anyone else, EW is a catalyst for whole-system collaborations, educational tools and a paradigm of self-determination, whereby people empower themselves to co-create a better world.

  • Recognizing that those who are most vulnerable to critical issues are the most effective agents of change, EW advances public policies and civic engagement platforms where they have a real voice in the decisions affecting their lives.

  • Understanding that 100% of Humanity is required to build a world that works for 100% Humanity, EW creates multi-sector frameworks and outreach events inspiring all sectors of society to build it from the ground up.
  • The genius of nature is EW's supreme guide and thus integrates its synergistic principals into ecologically-inspired program systems, processes and social technology for a thriving, empowered future.

5 Key Tenets of our Work

1. Collaboration: Build upon the efforts of other agents of change

Just about every initiative EW is involved in is a partnership or collaboration. Rather than acting alone or in competition, EW acts as a uniting force, and strategically engages optimal expertise, experience, and implementing capacity of complimentary local and global partners. EW leverages the power of like minded groups in synergistic action to achieve comprehensive solutions which none could accomplish alone. 

2. Positive Alternatives to Globalization

The awareness raising work revealing unjust economic policies of WTO, provide the foundation for EW to take corporate social responsibility to the next level. EW engages businesses in Public-Private Partnerships that reverse the effects of economic globalization through the creation of livelihoods that protect indigenous heritage and promote cultural diversity. EW's growing Partners in Empowerment (PIE) network and forums build the critical mass to make this viable. 

3. Comprehensive Solutions vs. Single Issue (Band-Aid)

Rather than specializing in one issue or creating one program for all communities, EW specializes in an integrative process  (7 Stages to Sustainability) helping diverse communities resolve their most critical challenge to a healthier future, building a better world for all. By staying focused on the big picture in each community we are able mobilize limited resources in integrative social, economic & environmental action to address the root causes of poverty.

4. Local Empowerment vs. Top Down

When people are empowered, they find creative ways to resolve their own problems and better contribute to society and the world. EW empowers those most affected by critical challenges (AIDS, Economic Poverty, Drought/ Hunger caused by Climate Change), as primary agents of change in their communities.  Local citizens are accountable to the communities they live in for the long-term and have a deeper investment in project success. 

5. Investing in Economic Opportunities vs. Hand outs

Each community we work with has unique human and natural resources that when invested in, with appropriate technology, access to markets, and capital, can resolve many issues at once. To this end, programs are developed in concert with economic opportunities empowering local stakeholders to become self-reliant in meeting their needs.

7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS)

Building sustainable futures from the ground up

At the foundation of Empowerment WORKS, 7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS) is a collaboration road map, an Asset Based Community-driven Development (ABCD) framework, philosophy of self-determination and an educational curriculum empowering communities to build sustainable futures from the ground up.

In short, 7 Stages to Sustainability is a tool to transform poverty into prosperity in the world's most economically challenged communities.  

And, modeling the way nature creates, the 7SS pattern is universal and used world-wide to catalyze innovation in business, technology, music and even movies. Although those using it have little or no awareness of one another, the widely distributed 7SS pattern, termed 'monomyth' by author Joseph Campbell (a.k.a. Hero's Journey), is inherent in most (if not all) other functional systems.

Therefore, to strengthen coherence and meaningful collaboration across all sectors of society - and thus unite much more of humanity in local solutions, Empowerment WORKS is dedicated to scaling this approach through Partners in Empowerment (PIE) and related tools.  .

7SS as a Framework for Participatory Community Development


1. Build a team around your ideal future. Find Partners In Empowerment - community members, local organizations, businesses & others dedicated to positive change. 

2. Assess local assets = economic opportunities. Explore the richness of human (talents, skills, cultural gifts) and sustainable natural resources right in your backyard. Take inventory of your village, city, region. (Asset-Based Community Development).

3. Make a plan (co-create solutions). Work with your team to find the root causes of local challenges. Outline local needs, your mission, goals, how you will measure success, and then actions. Agree who will do what and how you will share responsibilities.


4. Educate Yourself and Learn from Others. Get the basic education and skills you, your team need to make an impact. Help train those who are going to carry on the work. Identify the training & technical support local teams will need to deliver what is needed.

5. Identify, exchange & invest in LOCALLY appropriate technologies & critical information in health, energy, transportation, construction, agriculture, water, IT, education, etc. - How can you ADD GREATEST VALUE to your LOCAL ASSETS (Stage 2)?

6. Harness the power of the private sector to deliver what's needed & create livelihoods for people in need. Link existing resources (Stage 1 & 2) with skills & technologies (Stage 4 & 5) to develop products and services that value and protect local heritage. 


7. Reinvest in Impact & Deepen Sustainability. Build Public-Private Partnerships for Self-Reliance. As projects need to run on their own, ensure that the community support systems are regenerative & self-repairing.  Develop, reinforce, refine and deepen the mutually supportive  multi-sector exchanges yielding long-term income streams to sustain local impact.

Uniting complimentary resources of local and global communities

*See & Co-create 7SS outcomes with Partners in Empowerment (PIE)

Whole System Co-Creation

Bringing the WHO, HOW & WHAT together to catalyze locally-led solutions

In the field of collaboration, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of frameworks, methods and impact tools

To facilitate coordination across geographic, cultural and political boundaries, we offer two frameworks that integrate business, community and technology development: 7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS) and Partners in Empowerment (PIE).

Through identifying the "who, how & what" frameworks within this growing web, understanding the primary functions of each, and how they work with others in a whole-system, we foster coherence and transparency:


  • WHAT: Goals, issues, actions & impact needed for a  thriving world

Mirroring the inherently repeatable and scalable (aka Meta) patterns found in nature, 7SS & PIE are complete systems on their own and also reflect the larger system which they are part of.

Thereby, 7SS is a process itself, and also encompasses and thus serves to aggregate the many more "who and how" parts (the diverse players and relevant methods used). And, as it is universal, it allows for the variable of "WHAT" (needs, issues & solutions) to be integrated and decided by those on the ground.

One global example of "What" is the 8 Millennium Development Goals (see right) which 189 members of the United Nations agreed to achieve, and emphasizes measurable targets including halving poverty, increasing gender equity, and ensuring universal primary education by 2015.

Another list of needs & issues is  the Wheel of Co-Creation (below/right) which was pioneered by renowned Social Architect & Futurist, Barbara Marx-Hubbard with the purpose of identifying WHAT works.

NOTE: While recommended as a way to categorize and thus more effectively share solutions, there are many options.  When combining the WHAT with WHO & HOW (6 Sectors and 7 Stages), we create a SCALE-ABLE system honoring the gifts of all partners.

Whole System Impact

Working in synergy with other tools, 7SS and PIE work to co-create a collaborative space that recognizes key functions, human needs and resources of humankind and the planet.

Through advancing such a universal whole system, Empowerment WORKS aims to facilitate collaboration and sharing of solutions across the environmental sustainability, international economic development, social change, and human potential movements.

PIE Participatory Framework

6 sectors of Partners In Empowerment (PIE) & the unique roles we play

Why PIE?

  • Empowering all voices to be heard, PIE can be used as needed by government agencies for civic engagement or by community members as a self-organizing tool.
  • Rather than focusing on target issues such as health, economics, or technology, PIE emphasizes peoples', organizations', and businesses' ROLES based on what each has to contribute based on locally determined needs;
  • PIE roles are universal and can be applied to any challenge a community or region faces, advancing a whole-system approach to a sustainable world;
  • As it is complimentary to issue or needs oriented wheels, such as the 12 point Peace Room model forth by  Barbara Marx-Hubbard; PIE promotes collaboration across social & environmental movements.

The following six sectors are the foundation of the PIE Framework, Network &

Partners in Empowerment

  • For-Impact Organizations – Who: Community based and international nonprofits, Foundations, Govt. Service Agencies dedicated to Social, Economic, and Environmental impact.
  • Educational Institutions – Who: Private, Govt. & Nonprofit educators, researchers, scientists advancing evidence based knowledge, technologies and tools for a sustainable world.
  • Sustainable Businesses - Who: Aspiring and established private sector entrepreneurs, fund managers, investors & advocacy groups harnessing market forces to build a sustainable world.
  • Responsible Media Groups – Who: Journalists, Print Media, Radio, Web, Event Producers & Communications Agencies who uphold truth in journalism to support an informed public.
  • Social Entrepreneurs – Who: Visionary citizen, non-profit & governmental innovators who create solutions dedicated to SOCIAL PROFIT i.e. benefiting people & the planet as top priority.
  • Artists in Action - Who: Musicians, visual and performing artists, actors, and celebrities. “Whether through visual art, music or poetry, Artists speak with integrity and the world listens".

Uniting PIE from the ground up is the foundation of EW's 7 Stages to Sustainability approach & community development education tools.