TAP – The Technical Assistance Partnership – is one of Arizona’s premier nonprofit technical assistance providers, with over 600 organizations and thousands of individuals participating since its inception in 1997. Looking back on SLHI’s direct involvement with TAP and our related work in strength-based community building, we find there are three central reasons for its success:
TAP is self-organizing. TAP teams self-identify issues and community partners in a bottom-up process. Even the matching of TAP consultants with the teams has a fluid, “discovery-oriented” feel to it.
TAP is built on circles of mutual support and learning. In Mind, Mood and Message, we presented survey data documenting that Arizonans found circles (69%) and support groups (71%) most helpful among various means of dealing with stress or emotional problems. In the same way, the circles formed by TAP teams nurture a spirit of sharing, collegiality and learning. Everyone “gets better together.”
TAP has healthy feedback loops. The teams are linked up with each other through both real-time and virtual interactive communication loops. Over time, this has created a larger social network not only of practice, but also of identity and meaning. In effect, TAP has become a true learning community.
Self-organizing, circles of support, healthy feedback loops – these are properties of resilient systems. But here’s the key: the properties have to be constantly nourished. The work is never finished. It starts anew each day of your life.