I-Develop Conversations are discussions organized by volunteers that welcome everyone and build the social capital required for strong communities. They create regular opportunities for interaction across community spheres that create common ground, build trust and model effective social skills.

According to Putnam and Feldstein, the “one key to creating social capital is to build redundancy of contact. Common spaces for common place encounters are prerequisites for common conversations and common debate” (291).

When we repeatedly intersect with same person at different times and places, social capital has the opportunity to grow. Therefore, the success of I-Develop Conversations requires frequent and often brief conversations.

Also, if we are to restore social capital to our communities, we must try intentional approaches with these features:

  • Regular access to new people
  • Low-barrier opportunities to make small contributions
  • Intersecting social circles
  • The identification of common ground & shared values
  • The modelling of effective social and communication skills

There are 5 areas of common ground organizers can explore through an I-Develop Conversation:

The 5 Conversations
Neighborhood Brands
Local Stories
Sustainability Round Table
Visitor Experience
Who’s Who

People from all industries, sectors and socio-economic levels can relate to these topics and bring rich perspectives to the table.

The I-Develop Conversation volunteers are trained to organize or facilitate conversations. To create broad levels of engagement, all conversations are marketed and promoted together, and the ideas generated are documented on one platform so they can be referenced for future initiatives.

Participants in an I-Develop Conversation need not all be from the same neighborhood, but if we are to start building new connections and growing richer intersecting social bonds, each conversation should include people from different spheres, such as the organizer’s own neighborhood, his or her sphere of influence, and 2-3 local business owners.

I recommend I-Develop Conversations for anyone who wants to be more resourceful and productive, seeks advancement at work, plans to gain leadership skills, hopes to make a difference in the community, intends to develop real estate, or expects to grow or start a business. During the training, I share examples of where social capital has been critical in all these situations.

If you already have high levels of social capital, I-Develop Conversations dialogues can still benefit you and your neighborhood. According to Social Capital Research and Training, whatever your situation, “there could be more social connections, the nature of these social relationships could be more positive, there could be more shared understandings, stronger social norms of collaboration, reciprocity and trust, there could be more effective social structures, rules, and more effective and just enforcement of these rules.”

For more information and to get involved, please contact prattray@wpsir.com

Also, if you live in Stamford, CT, please sign up for our Feb. 24th conversation here, https://patriciarattray.com/2021/01/15/idevelopconversations/


Works Cited

“Guide to Social Capital: The Concept, Theory, and Its Research.” Social Capital Research & Training, 21 Dec. 2020, www.socialcapitalresearch.com/guide-to-social-capital-the-concept-theory-and-its-research/.

Pennar, K. “The tie that leads to prosperity: The economic value of social bonds is only beginning to be measured.” Business Weekly, 1997, pp. 153-155.

Putnam, R. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Putnam, R. and Feldstein, L. Better Together: Restoring the American Community. Simon & Schuster, 2004.