About PATH Intl.
Community Building InitiativeRobert Putnam’s ground-breaking research in his book Bowling Alone (Simon and Schuster, 2000) warned that the very fabric of our connections with each other has plummeted, resulting in impoverished lives and communities. An example of this phenomenon exists within PATH Int’l as out of the approximately 8,000 members, a small percentage at any given time are active volunteers who directly influence the direction of the association. This finding, in collaboration with the forward thinking vision of the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees and staff has galvanized PATH Intl. to take a lead in creating a platform with processes that support the development of communities. The vision of the Community Building Initiative is to identify and support the energy coming from the membership, creating a platform that feeds those efforts. The objectives of the community building initiative are to research concepts to provide all members with benefits and resources to improve their practice or business, support their professional development, and enhance the ability of PATH Intl. to positively impact equine-assisted activities and therapies. PATH Intl. membership communities would identify and connect individuals with a shared interest and/or purpose. Connections could be knowledge or information based, socially motivated, or advocacy-oriented. The communities might be designed to advance the development of knowledge in a particular field of interest or practice and contribute to the professional development of its members and the Association as a whole.
Human Brains Seek Communities
New brain research, often called Social Neuroscience, is exploring the biological foundations of the ways humans relate to each other and themselves (Rock, 2008). Much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by the overarching principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward (Gordon, 2000). We approach situations, things and people that have more certainty and have relatedness as a way of reducing any threats. People naturally form “tribes” or communities to experience a sense of belonging, increasing social rewards.
While all human brains are socially driven, individuals define what they consider “threatening” or “rewarding” based on their beliefs drawn from their unique life experiences. One of the most exciting elements of PATH Intl. communities is that they are going to be driven by the passion and energy from the membership. We’ve begun working on a procedure manual to help guide and support the processes so that each community can collectively move forward toward their individually defined vision and goals.
The "Experience" Economy
Imagine a world where you are offering a service or product and it is no longer limited by time, space, or matter. Stan Davis (Future Perfect, 1997) first introduced the concept of businesses blurring these fundamental properties, developing digital and virtual realms which do not require the physical universe as we have known it. In their new book Infinite Possibilities, Pine & Korn (2011) go one step further integrating virtual and reality, creating a Multiverse of infinitely possible ways to provide customer value. The mind-bending exploration of suspending time, space, and matter is the new business and organizational development frontier. Interestingly, community remains intact – even without time, space or matter. In this, the experience economy, the “experience” supersedes the physical or virtual nature of any customer transaction.
In other words, the human desire for community over-rides our need for physical reality. For example in the virtual world of gaming, people still can compete, collaborate, and connect. The explosion of social media tools, such as Facebook, Linked-in and Twitter, provide evidence people will use their resources to find ways to connect and create community.
PATH Intl. is planning to provide their communities with the organizational tools and resources to support both virtual connections, via an electronic platform, as well as more traditional methods of people coming together. Part of the responsibility of our work group is to identify the priorities and needs of the membership. We could use your help in determining the best ways to construct the framework for communities. Please share your ideas and feelings about what would serve you best as a community member by contacting one of the work group members or a PATH Intl. staff member.
A work group of individuals representing the diversity of PATH Intl. professionals has come together to share their expertise in and passion for community building. The Work Group exploring PATH Intl. communities is researching the various ways that it can increase the social rewards for PATH Intl. members. One of the work group's goals is to identify services and member benefits that would provide both social networking and in-person opportunities for membership connectivity. The communities will provide a place for like-minded individuals to gather, network, share and engage in important advocacy activities for their respective fields. The communities also provide the PATH Intl. staff and oversight committees the diversity of expertise needed that brings in new members and more members. We encourage you to begin your own community building by contacting one of the following work group members or PATH Intl. staff members: