Colorado Trust: The C.R.A.I.G. Group — The river |

Colorado Trust: The C.R.A.I.G. Group — The river

Imagine that there’s a town next to a raging river, with a waterfall just five minutes downstream. One day, the residents of this town notice people caught in the river and many are going right over the waterfall’s edge. What can the townspeople do to save these people?

Someone suggests that they make a human chain and wade out into the river to grab people as they go by. Someone else suggests they throw out ropes with inner tubes after the human chain to save the people who were missed. Someone else suggests they build a giant net that goes all the way across the river just before the waterfall to save the ones who were missed before. All three of these methods have saved almost all the people who’ve gone by in the river but still not all of them. Someone else suggests they talk to the people who’ve been pulled from the river to find out how they ended up in the river.

So, the townspeople start talking with the people who’ve been pulled out of the river and discover there’s a bridge in disrepair further upstream. A few of the townspeople and a few of the saved river people go upstream to look at the bridge. At the bridge, the townspeople find it is rickety and in need of serious repair. Also, they see a partially abandoned town on the other side of the bridge. The people from that town have to use the bridge to do daily tasks such as buying groceries and getting their kids to school because their town no longer has a grocery store or a school. How can the townspeople help?

Someone suggests they fix the bridge, but the bridge is quite old and repairing it will only help it last a bit longer. Someone else suggests they replace the bridge, so the bridge will last longer then if it’s just repaired. Another person suggests they look at the town itself and how it got into its current situation. What factors led to this?

This analogy is one used by many different fields to represent how they do their work. The townspeople pulling people out of the river represents crisis or emergency work — we need to save these people now!

Repairing or replacing the bridge represents prevention work — we need to keep people from falling in the river in the first place. Looking at the factors that have impacted the partially abandoned town and how it got into its current situation is systems level work.

Systems level work is often the most difficult work because it challenges the way things are, such as laws or business practices or education standards.  The C.R.A.I.G. Group touches each kind of work laid out in this scenario with our eventual goal of systems level work. Will you join us?

Contact Karli Bockelman at for more information about The C.R.A.I.G. Group and our work.

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