The Wildflowers Approach is a three-step process to discovering the informal side of a community and then strengthening the informal side’s otherwise unknown activities, relationships, and leaders. The informal ways and leaders of a community are often invisible to outsiders, but they are what actually is working and thus self-sustainable and tested. With its own limited resources, the informal side is able to solve problems and develop the community as a whole. Wildflowers believes in the unlimited potential of effectively linking the informal parts of a community with the formal NGOs, governments, and companies.
Wildflowers begins its work in a community by identifying the “informal” leaders, those who hold no official title or salary but are trusted and work tirelessly on behalf of others while staying out of the limelight. We invite these informal leaders to join our Fellowship Program alongside more formal and official leaders and other interested professionals. Our Fellowship Program trains the Fellows to volunteer as guides for outsiders and for our work in their community. Wildflowers also holds biannual Socratic Seminars where our fellows and others interested in helping communities discuss readings from great classic and contemporary writers from around the world.
We ask community members to follow our patented Wildflowers Model-Building® process of using blocks and figurines to build models of how things work in their lives. These models reveal what community members really mean and value, consciously and unconsciously. In particular, the institute uses the Wildflowers Model-Building® process to discern important relationships and informal and cultural activities that currently are used to solve problems. The synthesis of all these models is distilled into an illustrated Map of the community that shows both the formal and informal sides as well as their unified vision for the future.
The Wildflowers Social Investment Fund looks for small businesses and community projects that would not ordinarily seek out traditional loans or philanthropic investments. These businesses and projects are often found in the informal side of the community and overlooked by outsiders, but the Wildflowers Approach gathers the local intelligence to find them. Through Wildflowers Model-Building® and from our Fellows and the informal leaders, we learn such things as what are the best local restaurants, which businesspeople have good reputations, who are the talented artists, and which programs are actually popular and respected in the community. The fund aims to seed micro-loans that enable businesses to make upgrades and the whole community to preserve its culture.
Wildflowers Institute applies its approach at the request of philanthropists to communities they are committed to. The institute also offers social and cultural consulting, training, research, and planning services to companies, nonprofits, and governments. Wildflowers advises in the design of social space for public use and civic engagement.