Why A Small Group?
Since 2003, A Small Group has been changing the conversation.
A Small Group from the beginning has been about how new conversations with people you do not usually talk to changes everything. This is how transformation occurs, how communities become places of possibility, not problems. In the ten-plus years, ASG has been in existence, the narrative of Cincinnati has undergone this kind of shift. Some of the cities aliveness came from the financial investments, but not all of it. ASG makes its contribution through all the people bringing the ideas to every small group in every sector.
- Peter Block
With over 7000 organizations in Cincinnati, why A Small Group?
A Small Group is a volunteer group whose purpose is to offer a network and set of tools to create a new conversation and sense of relatedness that has the power to produce an alternative future for the city. If we want to see change in the city, then we have to change the conversation.
Most of the existing conversations about how to improve the city fragment us and have little power to change anything and at best make tomorrow perhaps a little better than yesterday.
A Small Group works to change the future by shifting the context or set of beliefs within which most all existing efforts to improve the city operate. The existing context is that Cincinnati is a set of needs and problems to be solved. That the solution to these needs are better leaders, more money, stronger programs, more experts, more studies and master plans.
This old conversation, which is more often than not an argument or sales pitch, goes on to wish for a more responsible business sector, a more accountable and efficient social sector, a better managed school system and elected officials, and government that is accountable to people. What all this has in common is that all of us think someone else needs to change for the woundedness of our community to heal.
These conversations and this context of deficiencies are well-meaning and sincere, but mostly breed cynicism, disengagement and a loss of accountability. They intend to keep help but act to keep us stuck in the past.
The new conversation ASG is committed to is one of Cincinnati as a possibility, as a set of gifts waiting to be brought into the center, a collection of citizens wanting to commit to the well being of the whole. While the city has classic urban challenges with its economy, poverty, homelessness, youth on the streets, public safety, disinvested neighborhoods, these are not the problem. It is the way we think about these issues that keeps us stuck. The challenges are simply symptoms of the deeper problem, which is the breakdown in community, in our social fabric. This breakdown, which is expressed in our needs obsessive and fragmented way of speaking and being together, is what we are working on.
A Small Group takes is name from Margaret Meade's famous quote that "all real social change comes from a small group of committed people." We are working to bring this thinking to the community.
"It's sickening how comforting the privacy of the mind can be." --Max Collins