ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY IN THE PROBLEM OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
With a newly appointed Executive Director and the mission of identifying and addressing the substance abuse problems in Porter County, Empower formed a committee of stakeholders to gather input. Working closely with the ED, Jane designed a facilitated meeting process to structure conversations to solicit input from various stakeholder groups, including law enforcement, education, medical care providers, mental health providers, and community and church leaders.
To encourage participants to think broadly and open-mindedly about the issue and to allow them to work collaboratively and quickly, Jane designed a process based on a proven problem solving approach. The sessions began with a large group session where participants created a context map and identified several specific problem areas. Then, they were arranged in small group sessions where they used a structured process to develop strategies for prevention and treatment. Using facilitated visual maps, we helped the stakeholders see the conversation as it evolved and created an environment where they could be more innovative and “outside the box” in potential solutions.
The final meeting combined the input of all the sessions and outlined the approach Empower would take, launching a series of three important initiatives to address the problem.