SHV brings the talents of its Advisory Council and Staff to the service of communities with customized training and technical assistance across the subject matter specialties of sustainable development. SHV’s process skill and wide range of tools can help you focus on what matters, and tap the community’s strengths to achieve shared goals.

We offer affordably priced introductory workshops, in-depth training programs, specially designed retreats and public programs in the following areas:

Public Engagement

Assessing Your Civic and Social Capital

Communities’ capacity to adapt, and create their desired futures, arises from the quality of relationships and communication within them. “Social capital” is visible in dynamic communities, in such forms as high levels of trust, relationships of give and take, shared mental models and assumptions about the ways to work together. These “soft” elements are an unmatched source of free energy for communities. The workshop lays out compelling research on social capital, helps participants concretely assess their communities with an eleven-point questionnaire developed by leading researcher Robert Putnam, and then guides each participant in mapping out a strategy for utilitizing strengths and closing gaps in the community.

Healing the Body Politic with Sustained Dialogue

Today’s politics of polarization has added to the wounds of an already divided culture, making it challenging to bring people out into public conversation. The Sustained Dialogue Method was created by political psychologists working in the Middle East Peace Process, to help people establish respectful relationships across cultural and political divides. It has been successfully used to deal with racism on college campuses as well as in communities. Related dialogue methods have been used by family therapists to build respect and cooperation across polarizing issues such as reproductive choice. We offer an Introduction to Sustained Dialogue as well as an ongoing practice group.

Planning a Successful Public Participation Initiative

High quality public participation initiatives take more than an invitation to come on out. Campaign design, audience targeting, messaging, meeting management, and ongoing interaction are elements taught in this workshop. Participants will explore best practices for short- and long-term public engagement processes, and will develop a strategic analysis for their home towns.

Community Stories and Scenarios: Bringing People Together and Leaving the Politics at the Door

Communities that attract resources and engage their people are those that have a coherent story to tell about what’s going on and why it matters. Consider the political figures who are loved beyond their narrow interest groups - they are the ones who tell a story that resonates with the community. Telling your community’s story - the neighborhood projects and galvanizing battles - is an art that anyone can cultivate in order to help the community make sense of its options and make wiser choices. Stories can heal history and they can also explore possible futures with linkage to scenario planning. This workshop introduces methods, with copious opportunities to experiment.

Speaker Training

It’s easy to be a good-enough public speaker and much harder to achieve your full potential as a speaker -- but worth it. Empowering and involving people is the payoff of highly effective speaking. This workshop is 100% learning-by-doing, with group feedback on each participant’s signature presentation. We work on core messaging, organization and depth of content, pacing, delivery style, audience interaction, handling tough questions, and unleashing your specific character strengths on the podium. Available as a daylong or weekend workshop, or an ongoing practice group.

Planning and Development

Toward the Self-Sustaining Community: Mapping Assets and Dealing with Gaps

Asset-based community development is a commonly-used but not deeply understood framework for playing to each community’s significant strengths as a basis for development. This approach works best when it is comprehensive, looking for unexpected opportunities; multi-scaled from micro to macro; multi-staged to allow for the introduction of unexpected resources as the effort builds. Using The Power of Ten from Project for Public Spaces and easy to use mapping tools, this workshop will empower community volunteers and professionals to generate new revitalization strategies.

Placemaking in a Changing Climate*

Designing the places where we live and work, so that they are beautiful and welcoming to people and commerce alike - this simple idea is re-emerging to guide the revitalization of our marketplaces, waterfronts, bikeways, and neighborhood centers, in order to preserve and highlight local assets like historic buildings, urban gardens and waterfalls, or public art.  Today, as climate change presses us to “re-localize” our lives and protect our local resources, the art and science of placemaking are evolving to meet new needs.  Landscape architecture is joining urban design and economic development to create strategies for cooling city centers; keeping water on the land; growing food, fiber, fuel and ornamental plants for local use; and making wise choices about the use and protection of flood-prone land.   This modular training program can customize its offering of specialties and case material to inform and inspire local planners, developers, elected officials, conservation councils, engineers, architects and landscape architects, and citizens.

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper - the “Better Block” Approach to Revitalization Now*

“Better Block” initiatives are spreading fast as a people-powered way to make visible change by cleaning up and beautifying one block at a time with the simplest tools from paint to potted plants to bike racks. This short workshop highlights a powerful Texas model and helps participants design their own strategies.

Leverage Points for Community Change**

Why do some changes flow so easily while others seem to take constant battle? This workshop demonstrates tools of systems analysis to understand the patterns at work in your community and identify productive points of intervention. Participants will gain a framework for ranking interventions based on their ability to self-sustain - from rules and laws that must constantly be enforced, to powerful ideas that lead to self-reinforcing, scalable change.

Sustainability 101 Customized Issues Briefing

Energy action coalitions... social ventures... performance metrics for sustainability... walkability audits. We can prepare a customized background report and brief your team on any area of sustainability that you may want to delve into.

*Workshop given in partnership with Project for Public Spaces

**Based on the ground-breaking work of Donella H. Meadows, “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System”