Neighborhood Connections: Dialogue and Community Engagement in Cleveland

We enjoy hearing from people who are intrigued by Visual Explorer and looking for ways to use it in their own work. Below is a thread of conversation with Sue Wolpert, a change maker in Cleveland (here, here, and here … ) and publisher of The Funny Times. Thanks for sharing your work and fun with us Sue.

My work is around dialogue and community engagement in urban neighborhoods in Cleveland. Even in the microcosm of a city we have so many cultures, isolated groups, enemies, possibilities. I refocused my work here in Cleveland after years of Israel Palestine peace work. After my last trip to meet and support positive change agents there, I found that many of the same issues (small minded, past-centric, distrust, power differentials, lack of spaces to bring people together across divides etc.) all of it is right here in my backyard. Cleveland is an exciting place.

From: Sue Wolpert
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 12:43 PM
Subject: Visual Explorer Post Card Facilitator’s Set

Hi, Last year I had a chance to be in a large group in Belgium that used the Visual Explorer deck as an ice breaker activity. It was an enjoyable way to get a room full of strangers talking to each other. I would be interested to know what other ideas you have for using objects like a deck to help groups bring themselves forward into relationship and action.

My work is around dialogue and community engagement in urban neighborhoods in Cleveland. I would like to have a tool like the Visual Explorer as a way to loosen up peoples imagination when they gather for various reasons. I work on a grassroots level with individuals and simple associations of citizens trying to make the world a better place.

I am wondering if there is a way to get the materials (cards and facilitator booklet) at a discounted rate. [Yes education and not for profits get a 40% discount–ask for it.]

Thanks for your attention,
Sue Wolpert

 later …

Wow! Thank you so much for the package full of tools which I received this morning. I opened the picture deck this morning first thing and I asked my husband, tell me how you are feeling about the pinched nerve in your neck? He picked the card of the football players crushing the guys neck. …

Today, I took the deck with me to a visit today with a couple of people that run an organization called Peace In The Hood. They do anti-violence, anti-gang, work in a very rough neighborhood of our city. They also do character development work with youth. I shared with the leadership of Peace In The Hood, the Visual Explorer deck and the Values Explorer cards. We discussed ways they might use the Visual Explorer deck to open up dialogue with stakeholders who might become donors. We also talked about how they might use the values cards with their youth as part of the character development and rites of passage work. We came up with the idea of making a wall hanging that uses the 5 values a person holds most closely.


Here is what is going on with the me and the Visual Explorer decks you shared. I used them once in a group setting (see a few pictures attached) before I took on a two year project for a wonderful local organization called Neighborhood Connections.

The event was an experimental evening, a party for local change agents (A Small Group) that combined using the Visual Explorer deck with practices from Peter Block. I have also used the deck in one on one meeting with new people as a way to take the conversation in a different direction.


My work with Neighborhood Connections gives me a great platform to bring people of Cleveland’s urban neighborhoods together. Over the next two years my assignment is to convene many events and occasions which will showcase the accomplishments of grassroots people in Cleveland. I will be creating learning circles, parties, and other kinds of fun community dialogues and learning adventures which will build connections. My work is to bridge divides and cross siloed communities, both among grassroots people, organizations that work with grassroots leaders, and in the vertical divides.

I have spent the last 2 months having conversations with people, listening for themes and for what they want to accomplish that might be possible with a groups that spans across neighborhoods, kinds of work, organization, etc. I am almost to the part where I am going to start making up the engagement process and the what kinds of groups to get going. This is where I will start using the deck.

I will keep you posted as we invent the kinds of convenings where people can slow down, and use the deck to connect and share about what is most important to them in the matter at hand.



About Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth

Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth are Senior Fellows at the Center for Creative Leadership. Many thanks to Steadman Harrison III, CEO of GO, and Senior Associate for the Center for Creative Leadership.
This entry was posted in Visual Explorer™ and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Neighborhood Connections: Dialogue and Community Engagement in Cleveland

  1. Pingback: A Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle | Leadership Explorer Tools

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *