Your Enabling Practice

An enabling practice is not pater/maternalism or advocacy, it's an engagement relationship

Resources for an enabling practice

On line

In print
Peter Iskin's new book on Ohio Law

Who you gonna call?
RHINO partners have resources

Remember social work's nesting place

Sept 18th is the anniversary of the founding of Hull House in Chicago in 1889. If you don't know the story you might want to read up. Here's a long excerpt from Wikipedia to whet your appetite for this pioneering effort that "invented" social work as a compassionate and transformational social practice.

Throughout the first two decades of operation, Hull House attracted many female residents who later became prominent and influential reformers at various levels. At the beginning, Addams and Starr volunteered as on-call doctors when the real doctors either didn’t show up or weren’t available. They acted as midwives, saved babies from neglect, prepared the dead for burial, nursed the sick, and sheltered domestic violence victims. For example, one Italian bride had lost her wedding ring and in turn was beaten by her husband for a week. She sought shelter at the settlement and it was granted to her. Also, a baby born with a cleft palate was unwanted by his mother so he was kept at the Hull House for six weeks after an operation. In another case, a woman was about to give birth to an illegitimate baby, so none of the Irish matrons would touch it. Addams and Starr stepped in and delivered this helpless little one. Finally, a female Italian immigrant was so thrilled about fresh roses at one of the Hull House receptions that she insisted they had come from Italy. She had never seen anything as beautiful in America despite the fact that she lived within ten blocks of a florist shop. Her limited view of America came from the untidy street she lived on and the long struggle to adapt to American ways. The settlement was also gradually drawn into advocating for legislative reforms at the municipal, state and federal levels, addressing issues such as child labor, women's suffrage, healthcare reform and immigration policy. Some claim that the work of the Hull House marked the beginning of what we know today as "Social Welfare".[20] At the neighborhood level, Hull House established the city’s first public playground, bathhouse, and public gymnasium (in 1893), pursued educational and political reform, and investigated housing, working, and sanitation issues. The playground opened on May Day in 1893, located on Polk Street. Families dressed in party attire and came to join the celebration that day. Addams became the founder of the National Playground Association and advocated for playgrounds nationwide. She had studied child behavior and painfully concluded that “children robbed of childhood were likely to become dull, sullen men and women working mindless jobs, or criminals for whom the adventure of crime became the only way to break out of the bleakness of their lives” Also, one volunteer, Jenny Dow, started a kindergarten class for children left at the settlement while their mothers worked in the sweatshops. Within three weeks, Dow had 24 registered...kindergarteners and 70 on a waiting list. At the municipal level, their pursuit of legal reforms led to the first juvenile court in the United States, and their work influenced urban planning and the transition to a branch library system. At the state level Hull House influenced legislation on child labor laws, occupational safety and health provisions, compulsory education, immigrant rights, and pension laws. These experiences translated to success at the federal level, working with the settlement house network to champion national child labor laws, women’s suffrage, a children’s bureau, unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, and other elements of the Progressive agenda during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

More here:

 Coaching is our shorthand to describe a partnering/mentoring approach to rental problem solving.  In sports, the coach has more knowledge and experience than a "rookie" but it's the player who moves the ball downfield or swings the bat.  Being a coach means letting the consumer make the plays and earn the score.  See below-professionals explain your role

Dispute ResolutionBefore give and take becomes push and pull you may be able to help bring disputing parties to make a deal.

Diversity is an important enabling technique.  Too often tenants in MF housing are pitted against each other based on age, disability, race, gender...  This divide and conquer strategy accomplishes two management goals:
blame "other tenants" and make "inclusive" behavior seem like "socialism."

Evidence:  how to "make a case" 
  • documents.  leases, notices, property advertisements, memos from the manager, emails, text messages....anything in writing that pertains to the rental relationship could be critical.
  • witnesses:  people hear and see things that can help explain the problem.  A key step in using a witness is to create a written statement of what happened as quickly as possible after the event took place (lawyers call this contemporaneous). 
  • photos:  be sure you have proof when the photo was created and by whom.
  • recordings:  In Ohio a recording can be used in evidence if one party to the conversation knows that the conversation is being recorded.  There's no requirement to disclose that a recording is being made.  However, the person making the recording should be available to testify to the date, time, circumstances of the recording.
Professionals: explain your role
Have you had this problem of "clients" not understanding what you do?  Tenant says: "just tell me the answer" like there's a big book where I could look it up or...where there's a big book where he could look it up...if only he knew where to find the book.  Explaining that i need to think about the problem blows by at supersonic speeds...Just tell me the answer!.  Here's the take away from a new article:  "Even in situations in which it appears that clients do understand a profession," the study says, "it may be appropriate for a professional to manage clients' expectations to maintain initial trust, as gaining trust back after it has been lost may be even more difficult than gaining trust in the first place."  The focus of the research seems to be the professional's feelings of well being and justifying the fees that the professional charges.  For "helping professions" maybe our concerns should be helping our clients understand complexity (complex simple answers) and helping them open doors to discovery  See Coaching (above)

 "Remote" relationships are necessary because: our service areas have expanded , our customers work schedules are complicated, and decisionmakers (housing providers and housing intermediaries) are often outside our local communities.  The challenge of remote relationships is to preserve intimacy and capture accuracy. 
  • intimacy
  • accuracy
Science, not just feelings or values
Many social service providers are afraid of science because of mathematics or resistant to science because of ideological belief systems (religious and secular) that are value only systems.  Here's what science can bring to your practice
1.  openness to new situations (it's a new world)
2.  acceptance of diversity of background and behavior  (what is a reasonable time for entry.)
3.  an ability to suspend judgement in favor of intervention (trading "well if you hadn't done THAT" for "lets explore some options from here")

use science:
  • knowing a little more about human behavior than you learned in school or church or mom's knee 20 years ago (or more) can help you understand what you are observing in your practice
    • Science Daily-snippets from current research (be selective about what you find, use interesting articles to push you to additional research)
make science
  • gather data and analyze of your practice experience
  • use crowdsourcing to get data from places you can't reach in your experience.

Notes & Links

context not prescriptions

Kurt Lewin and Force Field Analysis

Pablo Friere Consciousness Raising

The Rosa Parks Option

Saul Alinsky: Rub Raw the Sores of Injustice

(how to...what to do)