self-organizing community responses to a drug epidemic...a question

Chris Corrigan chris at
Fri Jun 4 11:46:18 PDT 2004

Hi listers:

I am currently working with a small community which is having a serious
problem with drugs among their youth. In a meeting with community
leaders the same solutions came forward, most notably that the police
need to enforce laws better (they don't), the local government needs to
do more (it won't) and the dealers need to be run out of town (but no
one will do it).

I suggested that, in the face of the evidence, none of these solutions
are the magic bullet. So far none of what NEEDS to happen is actually
happening. So what is the answer?

I am increasingly thinking that this small community is facing what many
have identified as the fundamental problem with the global "war on
terror." A small number of unorganized people are wrecking havoc on the
community and the organized structures (police, local government) are
basically so mired in structure that they are unable to respond.

So what I am thinking is that a self-organized response is what is
needed. The drug problem is essentially a self-organizing issue, with an
unrestricted economy, drug use spreading like a viral meme and nobody in
charge. The only way to beat the scourge is to self-organize against
this. And so to this end, we have been considering using Open Space
Technology to create a self-organized response to this problem, and we
are starting with the community leadership group I work with (the group
uses OST on a regular basis in their monthly meetings). We have already
started a little with people thinking about neighbourhood watch and
other citizen based initiatives. The leadership group has also been
working on larger and more systemic solutions to make the community more
youth friendly and supportive of healthy behaviour, but these take a
long time and the drugs are killing people right now.

What I'm curious about is whether or not anyone out there has seen
examples of communities self-organizing to meet a self-organized or
chaotic issue like this?

I have posted this question to my weblog as well at so there may be some responses



Bowen Island, BC, Canada
(604) 947-9236

Consultation - Facilitation
Open Space Technology

chris at

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