Sunday, June 5, 2011

Des Moines exemplifies model 3 Principles project site

Awakening the Beloved Community: Report on Year 2 of the National Community Resiliency Project (March 2009-June 2010)

The Center for Sustainable Change would like to acknowledge the impressive achievements of our community partners in Des Moines, Iowa. What began there in 2004-5 as a series of local 3-Principles trainings turned into a project partnership with the Center’s National Community Resiliency Project (NCRP) and has evolved, just three years later, into a model city site, where Des Moines’ social agencies, schools and hospitals are aligning around an “innate health” paradigm.

I asked Corinne Lambert of United Way of Central Iowa whether, as a result of this shift, her experience of living and working in Des Moines is different from what it used to be. She said, “Of course, it’s different. When you have the insight [about the 3 Principles] you see things differently.” She went on to say that the health system, for example, operates differently when “people see people more -- recognize them and see that we have this commonness that we maybe didn’t pay attention to before.”

The paradigm shift in Des Moines is occurring through the hard work and passionate dedication of community leaders like Corinne Lambert and many others who are forging a loose network of 3P-trained individuals within a variety of local institutions:

United Way of Central Iowa
Carver School, Callanan Middle School and others
West Des Moines Youth Justice Initiative
Iowa Health System (three hospitals)
Des Moines Public Schools Success Program
Iowa Department of Human Services
Department of Corrections
City of West Des Moines Police Department
La Clinica de la Esperanza

The 3P's are an “inside-out” approach to community development, focusing on inner psycho-spiritual change through individual and/or group trainings in the three principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. Psychologist Joseph Bailey wrote, “If we have the courage and humility to listen to the wisdom of these principles, they will direct us to a renaissance -- not only for psychology, but for humanity as a whole.”

What happens to a community when a number of residents in key sectors of society gain a personal understanding of the principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought? What might this “renaissance” look like?

The achievements in Des Moines suggest that when people begin to look more deeply within their own consciousness for solutions to problems, subtle internal changes produce measurable improvements in a variety of social indicators, defined as “statistics and all other forms of evidence that enable us to assess where we stand and are going with respect to our values and goals” (Raymond Bauer).

The outcomes of two years of 3P work in Des Moines are chronicled in Awakening the Beloved Community: Report on Year 2 of the National Community Resiliency Project, by Ami Chen Mills-Naim, NCRP Project Director and Co-director of the Center for Sustainable Change, with assistance from Corinne Lambert, as well as Dave Nichols and Scott Terry of Lakewood Community Development Corporation, and Larry Williams of Delta Citizens Alliance.

Based on feedback from adults in Des Moines, there were significant internal changes that accompanied training in the 3P's, including the following:

Calming down
Letting go of negative thoughts
Feeling hopeful
More able to reach out for help for oneself, or to help others
More patience with their children and others
Less fearful
Less burnout for front-line, social services-related workers

One participant summed up the training’s personal impact when she said, “I heard in the training that I could stop thinking about my past and let it go. It was such a big shift for me. Changing my past is like trying to blow out a light bulb! … I was agitated and rough, and went to happy. It’s been a kind of a re-birth.”

Children reported feeling better about themselves, more in control of their behavior, less alone, and less anxious.

Judging by the statistical evidence in Des Moines, internal shifts are reflected in external changes, such as improvements in classroom behavior, youth-crime recidivism, and health and well being.

The following excerpts from Awakening the Beloved Community offer a glimpse into some of the changes taking place within the education, justice and health systems in Des Moines:

-- "According to scores from 07/08 to 09/10 in the Iowa Basic Skills Test, Carver students in the 3rd through 5th grades moved in significant numbers from “developing” to “competent or advanced” skills consistently across science, math and reading. Fourth graders went from 50 percent competent in science skills to 63 percent (from 07/08 to 09/10). And fifth graders scoring “competent” in reading jumped 35 percent, to 55 percent in 09/10, from a baseline of 20 percent in 07/08."

-- "Recidivism rates for young offenders in the West Des Moines Youth Justice Initiative are 10-12%, compared to roughly 30% for the general population of young offenders."

-- "The Iowa Health System, a conglomerate of hospitals and providers within the state, conducts internal evaluation of the Principles with hospital employees, administering a Rand-developed health survey pre-training, and at 6- and 12-month follow up. Results from the first group of employees to be measured include significant, positive outcomes on four of eight measures: 1) role limitations due to emotional problems, 2) energy/fatigue, 3) emotional wellbeing and 4) general health. Positive changes registered on all other measures, although not with statistical significance. These improvements were significant 12 months after training, with only one hour monthly refresher classes after the initial 15-hour training."

While more research needs to be done to determine a direct linkage between 3P training and social benefits, the data in Des Moines is consistent with results across other NCRP project sites and with the history of 3P training throughout the 25-plus years of its application in high-risk communities.

Awakening the Beloved Community concludes its report on Des Moines with this:
“What emerges from the focus groups and site visits is a quiet, revolutionary shift in how school staff, health care and social workers see themselves, and those entrusted to their care. Corinne Lambert’s position at United Way, and her membership in committees across the city, gives her an eagle’s eye view of the greater Des Moines community. She relates that people who have worked with or benefited from the Principles are now able to refer to each other—since so many agencies have been touched by the Principles. This is creating a ‘world within a world’ where clients, students and families are seen as whole and capable—no matter their situation, condition or diagnoses.”

The Center for Sustainable Change acknowledges the leadership and contributions of Corinne Lambert and the many other health, education and humans services workers and residents in Des Moines who have embraced a new way of helping people.

More detailed information on the outcomes in Des Moines and other NCRP project sites can be found in the NCRP report, Awakening the Beloved Community, available as a PDF at To learn more about the community work at the Center for Sustainable Change, email us at

-- by Maureen Latta, CSC Grants Manager

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