Implementing the PEACE POWER Strategy
The PEACE POWER strategy is highly adaptable, so there are many ways to organize an evidence-informed plan in organizational and community settings. Single or a few tools can be implemented in a single work group, classroom, or home, for example, and can make a really significant difference. The following steps, however, provide initial guidance for planning PEACE POWER projects in organizations and communities, which is somewhat more complex:
  1. 1. Form a working group. Culture building often begins with a single person with a vision of what might be within an organization. Effective implementations generally require a small working group of perhaps 4 to 6 people who are willing to contribute at least a modest amount of time, energy and creativity to the effort. The group should either include, or should closely engage, the senior administrator in an organization, or some persons in leadership positions in the community. The strongest projects include staff, administrators, students, parents, and community partners in planning; everyone has something to contribute, and all voices need to be heard (see Shared Power page). This group should think through together what is currently happening, and what they would like the culture/climate of the organization or community. (The working group may sometimes be formed after initial training, see the next step.
  1. 2. Provide initial training to participants. Initial training can be provided by PEACE POWER consultants, but can also be done by people internal to the organization or community who have studied the approach and feel ready to introduce it. Many PEACE POWER projects have been initiated by teachers, social workers or other trainers working from the PEACE POWER book and the materials available here on the web. This training should include discussion of the underlying science, the core practices with examples of different tools for making them real in your setting, and opportunities for people to work together in small groups to share what they are already doing to implement the core practices, and next steps that might be taken. PEACE POWER trainers are often available to organizations that would find training or consultation valuable.
  1. 3. Ceremonial kick-off. Some kind of ceremonial kick-off should usually be planned by the core group after the initial training has occurred; this may be something like a school assembly, with songs and skits prepared by students and staff, or a special interfaith church gathering in a community. As part of planning, a project name (which may be “PEACE POWER” or something locally developed) should be chosen, and subsequently used as a “brand” for project activities.
  1. 4. Ongoing planning and training. While initial training and a ceremonial kick-off can provide energy to initiate a PEACE POWER project, the working group will need to meet regularly to plan next steps. Any project gets old unless new initiatives regularly happen. Ideas for next steps may come from anyone, and wide participation in planning should be encouraged. Generally a small number of highly visible activities should be initiated immediately (e.g., use of Recognition Notes throughout the organization, a Peace Making initiative, and implementation of the Respect Game). Maintaining momentum requires novelty, as well as ongoing assessment of current activities to determine what should be maintained, what should be eliminated, and what should be introduced next. Preference should be given to ideas that are consistent with the research base. The best ideas often emerge after mini-trainings related to the core practices provided for student leaders (from all factions), staff or communities members, and parents. Those training sessions should include didactic material and opportunities for small group work. It is often a good idea to conduct one such training session for each core practice, followed by occasional boosters.
  1. 5. Implement Recognition Activities. Recognition is often the best place to begin, as it develops positive feelings among participants and for the project. Recognition Notes, Recognition Circles, Group Incentives, Home Recognition Notes, Peer Monitoring, Wall Charts and Celebrations of Successes are among good starting points. It is easier to move into respect-building activities once the level of recognition is boosted.
  1. 6. Implement Respect Activities. While recognition usually occurs in discrete actions, respect is more a condition that needs to be present continuously. Particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring that this is encouraged through careful planning. Good placed to begin are the Respect Game, Sportsmanship Education, Pledge Campaigns, and Poster Contests, as these tend to be high-visibility tools. Respect activities should also be built into Recognition Circles in most cases. Respect and shared power are closely connected.
  1. 7. Implement Power Sharing Activities to Build Community. Building community requires everyone to feel respected, included and at home, to know that they have a voice in the community, and to have opportunities to contribute. (Opportunities for participation, leadership, and contribution are known to be central to positive youth development.) Power sharing may begin with activities like collaboratively developing murals, community service projects, and video projects to explore community strengths. Longer term activities like service learning, student participation in governance, and youth/adult partnerships in prevention projects can help maintaining the sharing of power. It is challenging but critical that there is a place for everyone, including those who may be “social outcasts” to have opportunities for participation and leadership.
  1. 8. Implement Peace Making Activities. In any group, conflicts will occur; they can be opportunities for growth if tools for effective resolution are consistently implemented. The use of a Structured Peace-Making Tool, Peacemaking Circles, and Inter-group Dialogues are among the first approaches that might be implemented.
  1. 9. Monitor Progress and Maintain Creative Enthusiasm. The working group should plan from the beginning to develop simple ways to monitor (a) the extent to which project activities are being implemented, (b) satisfaction with project activities, and (c) a small number of possible outcome measures like numbers of fights and suspensions, improvements in grades, etc. Outcomes are complicated to evaluate since there are often many things happening in an organization or community, but it is useful to pay attention to them anyway. At the same time, since most of the PEACE POWER tools have demonstrated some power to make a difference, it is often most important to monitor the extent to which they are actually happening. Again, any project can become old unless there is something new regularly introduced, so maintaining creative enthusiasm is important. Bringing in new blood, extending program activities further into the community, and occasional booster training sessions are among many possible ways to do this.