Recognize & capitalize on pockets of hope at the state level.
Context is important in any local system development effort. Those involved in system development need to be strategic about that context. Sometimes it may play out on a community level. In all communities, it is important for local participants to pay attention to the state context in which they operate. State rules, regulations and initiatives can be helpful in setting the stage for which direction local efforts will take. They can also provide barriers which can feel insurmountable at the local level.
Any local development effort has three options available to them regarding the role of the state in local community development. These options are:
There is a definite balance in Stark County between recognizing the need to bend bureaucratic barriers and needing to maintain a healthy partnership with partners at the state level. As mentioned earlier, one lesson in Stark County is to not wait for permission to be granted from state partners. This does not mean that the Stark County Family Council simply ignores workings at the state level. Indeed, the holistic cross system approach allows System representatives in Stark County to determine where pockets of hope exist and build partnerships with those individuals and systems. Stakeholders in the Family Council are continually analyzing the external environment to determine where the opportunity for change exists. This has become an almost unconscious activity on the part of the Family Council in that it is simply the way business gets done. An enduring infrastructure needs to build the capacity to understand and analyze workings at the state level as well as implementing a strength based approach to partnerships with the state. In entering into a partnership with the state, the framework changes from "You can't" to "We will."