SOCIAL WORK 4401 – Winter Reflection Paper – March 3rd


Theory of Social Work Practice

 Winter Reflection ‘Paper’

The overall purpose of the Winter Reflection ‘Paper’ is to apply concepts from P. Block on community belonging and a complexity perspective to a hands-on experiential learning opportunity in Community Gathering to be held March 3 11:30-2:30 at Blue Sky Community Healing Centre, 512 Victoria Avenue.

Part I  Peter Block advocates for six community conversations to create community belonging: invitation, possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment and gifts.

Step 1:  Create an invitation conversation that uses the six elements of a powerful invitation (p. 113). (1 page)  (Note: If you are needing to create an invitation for your field placement or work, you can use these occasions instead of the Gathering for Part 1,Step 1.  My aim is to provide you with the opportunity to write an invitation Block style.)

Step 2: Provide examples of the other 5 conversations (questions) for structuring belonging: possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment and gifts. (5 pages)

For each of these five conversations provide concrete examples of questions raised during the three-hour community gathering that exemplifies each conversation.  Take notes on each of these questions, record the responses, and reflect for each conversation how the question and the responses furthered community belonging.

Step 3: Block describes how these six conversations have ‘power’ when they occur in a context of hospitality.  Describe how the community gathering created hospitality including the physical space set-up. (1 page)

Step 4:  (1 page)

a. Before attending the community gathering, what was your story about the challenges of substance use and community safety?

b. What new possibilities emerged during this community gathering?

Step 5: What kind of suffering was addressed at the community gathering?  How would you relate this to the social determinants of health?  (1 page)

Part II (4 pages)

Background: As interest in the study of complex systems has grown, a new language is emerging about how to describe human systems (individual, family, group, community).  Complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory has allowed for new insights into creating well-being through gifts and possibilities rather than problem-solving. This mental shift based on the insights of complexity can have an important role in how we view the role of social work practice.  CAS can assist us in better understanding the dynamic challenges that face us as social workers given a fluid social, economic and political context. CAS can assist social workers in changing the way we make day to day decisions for those we help and help us focus on approaches to creating enhanced associational life and belonging for the communities in which we live and work.  CAS provides us with a new model of thinking for exploring the possibilities for our professional approach to helping.

Context: For Part II you may use the Gathering itself to explain CAS or you may want to use individual observations during the Gathering or you may want to use your own cognitive reflections during the Gathering as an example of CAS.  For Part II, you are also welcome to use examples from your field placement, work, volunteer experiences or daily living.

Step 1: To explain your example through the use of the four phases of the adaptive cycle.

Step 2: Through your example, demonstrate your understanding of rigidity trap and poverty trap in the adaptive cycle

Step 3: Through your example, try using at minimum four terms from the language of complexity such as emergence, diversity, possibilities, gifts, self-organization, feedback loops, connectivity, nested systems, ecological systems, ‘good enough’, simple rules and edge of chaos.

Part III Postscript

Provide one concrete example of how you might use this approach to community belonging in your future career as you seek to address one of the social determinants of health?  (1-2 pages)


Please submit by April 7, 2014 by e-mail or paper copy to my mailbox in the Social Work office.

Late papers will be docked 5 points for each day they are late.

Have a wonderful time learning from this Winter Reflection ‘paper’.