Mitigating wicked community problems

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Mitigating wicked community problems

The ongoing events surrounding gun violence in our communities represents an opportunity to examine how we engage problems that are beyond traditional and are considered wicked. As described by the Kettering Foundation, wicked problems are complicated problems beyond reasoning that never go away and grow in intensity despite efforts of communities to address them.

What’s important to understand about wicked problems is that they can shake a community at its core. And, unlike traditional problems we can define and engage with traditional civic strategies, wicked problems persist because its definition and root cause is unclear and is made up of interrelated symptoms  embedded in the social and economic fabric of the community.

The key questions before us today as we deal with a multitude of social and economic problems is what do we do when the problems we face are considered wicked? And, how do we align our civic leadership strategies to mitigate?

In other words, any strategy to mitigate wicked problems has to begin with the realization that traditional civic strategies will not suffice. Instead, we need to examine non-traditional strategies that close the gap between differing opinions among citizens, institutions and community groups as to what the root cause of the problem is.  Truth is getting to this point is challenge which begins to solve wicked problems. It’s not in the blame game, quick fixes, and ideologies which further divide the community.

There is no one shoe fits all solution to mitigating wicked community problems. Our communities must dig deep into its civic soul to find ways of reaching a mutual understanding of the root cause of wicked problems. And, acknowledge it as part of a long term community engaging process that does not rush to a quick fix solution but instead allows citizens to engage with each other to develop lasting solutions and systemic change.

It’s my hope that we can find the will to do so.

Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson

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