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Culture of Inquiry — Mobilizing a Citizenry

Two weeks ago I worked with a community in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Thirty-four people with focus on improving health and access to health services in Klamath County. We spent a day together. One of the questions I wanted to explore during our afternoon open space was about the most simple ways to mobilize a community in support of health. How to unleash a community movement?

Six of us gathered and came up with something playful and and I believe, helpful. We were thinking together about how we could get many people — everyone — talking about heath in a way that would have the community talking not only about health, but about the way that everybody is talking about it. Like the way a people might in casual conversation talk about current events. At that time the Football World Cup was on. We wanted to learn from the way that people were talking about that. We wanted to find a simple question and activate the energy of that question.

For me this applies not only to the people of Klamath in this county health initiative, but to many others that I am working with. Sometimes it is a question about leadership. Sometimes a question about strengthening families. Sometimes a question about health.

The gems from Klamath Open Space included:

-start by just asking the question, “what have you done today that you feel was healthy?” To anyone. Anywhere. In casual settings. In serious settings. The question itself matters and could be altered. However, the idea of people everywhere asking a simple question like this has appeal.
-“deputizing” those we ask to ask others. It might start as a “Volunteer County Health Research Initiative.” That’s the more formal part. The informal part is just inviting others to ask the question of one person during the day, and of themselves.

I don’t mean to over-simplify. Over over-dramatize. I do, however, feel there is something really important to pay attention to in how we can mobilize a culture with the most simple question. Unleash it on itself. Much energy for this as a way to work with networks to create change. The inquiry itself inspires the change in those asking.

Thanks to Bob, Steve, Joel, Jim, and Catherine in particular for their creative thinking and support.

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