Purpose Prize Fellow 2006
Helping sustain communities by uncovering the strengths of their cultures
One of the greatest challenges our society faces is to cultivate a culture of community that is socially and financially sustainable. The market economy generates constant change: individuals reside in locations determined by work or affordability rather than by shared values or culture; public spaces are unsafe and disappearing; and local businesses are closing up because they are unable to compete globally. These are the challenges that Hanmin Liu, 61, is engaged in, with his organization, Wildflowers Institute. Founded in 1997, Wildflowers believes that the best way to address these social problems is to help communities identify and leverage existing social and cultural assets to empower the community to take ownership of a direction and a culture that are aligned with its economy. Wildflowers works with African American, Asian, urban indigenous Indian, and Latino communities, where traditional bonds are unraveling under the stresses of globalization. Wildflowers Institute produces innovative programs and tools to advance community sustainability. The institute also identifies self-organizing patterns that hold up the whole of the community, forming its identity and culture. Wildflowers’ approach to sustainability is to strengthen social trust and increase financial capital. Its training programs build capacity to unveil social patterns and to form collective leadership among diverse sectors of the community. Wildflowers provides tools to understand and resolve cultural differences and to form a culture of community that helps everyone adapt and grow.