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Community development (CD), informally called community building, is a broad term applied to the practices and academic disciplines of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens and professionals to improve various aspects of local communities.
Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to affect change in their own communities. These skills are often concentrated around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda. Community developers must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities' positions within the context of larger social institutions.
There are complementary definitions of community development. The Community Development Challenge report, which was produced by a working party comprising leading UK organisations in the field (including Community Development Foundation, Community Development Exchange and the Federation of Community Development Learning) defines community development as:
- "A set of values and practices which plays a special role in overcoming poverty and disadvantage, knitting society together at the grass roots and deepening democracy. There is a CD profession, defined by national occupational standards and a body of theory and experience going back the best part of a century. There are active citizens who use CD techniques on a voluntary basis, and there are also other professions and agencies which use a CD approach or some aspects of it."
Community Development Exchange defines community development as:
- “The process of developing active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect. It is about influencing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives.
- Community workers (officers) facilitate the participation of people in this process. They enable connections to be made between communities and with the development of wider policies and programmes.
- Community Development expresses values of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning. Educating, enabling and empowering are at the core of Community Development.”
Community development practice
Community development practitioners are involved in organizing meetings and conducting searches within a community to identify problems, identify assets, locate resources, analyze local power structures, assess human needs, and investigate other concerns that or for knowledge's sake, CBPR is an iterative process, incorporating research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process. In the UK RuralCommunity Councils support local communities to build sustainable futures. They assist local communities in a form of CBPR called community led planning. Rural Community Councils employ experienced, independent community development workers.
A number of different approaches to community development can be recognized, including:
- Community economic development (CED)
- Community capacity building
- Social capital formation
- Political participatory development
- Nonviolent direct action
- Ecologically sustainable development
- Asset-based community development
- Faith-based community development
- Community practice social work
- Community-based participatory research (CBPR)
- Community Mobilization
- community empowerment
- Community participation
- Participatory planning including community-based planning (CBP)
- community-driven development (CDD)
- approaches to funding communities directly
The history of community development
Community Development has been a sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit goal of community people, aiming to achieve, through collective effort, a better life, and has occurred throughout history. In the 18th Century the work of the early socialist thinker Robert Owen (1771-1851), sought through Community Planning, to create the perfect community. At New Lanark and at later utopian communities such as Oneida in the USA and the New Australia Movement (broken link) in Australia, groups of people came together to create intentional utopian communities, with mixed success. Such community planning techniques became important in the 1920s and 1930s in East Africa, where Community Development proposals were seen as a way of helping local people improve their own lives with indirect assistance from colonial authorities.
Mohondas K. Gandhi adopted African community development ideals as a basis of his South African Ashram, and then introduced it as a part of the Indian Swaraj movement, aiming at establishing economic interdependence at village level throughout India. With Indian independence, despite the continuing work of Vinoba Bhave in encouraging grassroots land reform, India under its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehruadopted a centralist heavy industry approach, antithetical to self-help community development ideas.
In the United States, the term "community development" in the 1960s began to complement and generally replace the idea of urban renewal, which typically focused on physical development projects often at the expense of working-class communities. In the late 1960s, philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation and government officials such as Senator Robert Kennedy took an interest in local nonprofit organizations--a pioneer was the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in Brooklyn--that attempted to apply business and management skills to the social mission of uplifting low-income residents and their neighborhoods. Eventually such groups became known as "community development corporations" or CDCs Federal laws beginning with the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act provided a way for state and municipal governments to channel funds to CDCs and other nonprofit organizations. National organizations such as the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (founded in 1978 and now known as NeighborWorks America), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (founded in 1980 and known as LISC), and the Enterprise Foundation (founded in 1981) have built extensive networks of affiliated local nonprofit organizations to which they help provide financing for countless physical and social development programs in urban and rural communities. The CDCs and similar organizations have been credited with starting the process that stabilized and revived seemingly hopeless inner cityareas such as the South Bronx in New York City.
Community Development became a part of the Ujamaa Villages established in Tanzania by Julius Nyerere, where it had some success in assisting with the delivery of education services throughout rural areas, but has elsewhere met with mixed success. In the 1970s and 1980s, Community Development became a part of "Integrated Rural Development", a strategy promoted by United Nations Agencies and the World Bank. Central to these policies of community development were
- Adult Literacy Programs, drawing on the work of Brazilian Educator Paulo Freire and the "Each One Teach One" adult literacy teaching method conceived by Frank Laubach.
- Youth and Women's Groups, following the work of the Serowe Brigades of Botswana, of Patrick van Rensburg.
- Development of Community Business Ventures and particularly Cooperatives, in part drawn on the examples of José María Arizmendiarrieta and the Mondragon Cooperatives of the Basque Region of Spain
- Compensatory Education for those missing out in the formal education system, drawing on the work of Open Education as pioneered byMichael Young.
- Dissemination of Alternative Technologies, based upon the work of E. F. Schumacher as advocated in his book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people really mattered
- Village Nutrition Programs and Permaculture Projects, based upon the work of Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.
- Village Village Water Supply Programs
Community development in Canada has roots in the development of co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires. The Antigonish Movement which started in the 1920s in Nova Scotia, through the work of Doctor Moses Coady and Father James Tompkins, has been particularly influential in the subsequent expansion of community economic development work across Canada.
In the 1990s, following critiques of the mixed success of "top down" government programs, and drawing on the work of Robert Putnam, in the rediscovery of Social Capital, Community Development internationally became concerned with social capital formation. In particular the outstanding success of the work of Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh with the Grameen Bank, has led to the attempts to spreadmicroenterprise credit schemes around the world. This work was honoured by the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
The "Human Scale Development" work of Right Livelihood Award winning Chilean economist Manfred Max Neef promotes the idea of development based upon fundamental human needs, which are considered to be limited, universal and invariant to all human beings (being a part of our human condition). He considers that poverty results from the failure to satisfy a particular human need, it is not just an absence ofmoney. Whilst human needs are limited, Max Neef shows that the ways of satisfying human needs is potentially unlimited. Satisfiers also have different characteristics: they can be violators or destroyers, pseudosatisfiers, inhibiting satisfiers, singular satisfiers, or synergic satisfiers. Max-Neef shows that certain satisfiers, promoted as satisfying a particular need, in fact inhibit or destroy the possibility of satisfying other needs: eg, the arms race, while ostensibly satisfying the need for protection, in fact then destroys subsistence, participation, affection and freedom; formal democracy, which is supposed to meet the need for participation often disempowers and alienates; commercialtelevision, while used to satisfy the need for recreation, interferes with understanding, creativity and identity. Synergic satisfiers, on the other hand, not only satisfy one particular need, but also lead to satisfaction in other areas: some examples are breast-feeding; self-managed production; popular education; democratic community organisations; preventative medicine; meditation; educational games.
Community building and organizing
Putting the unity back into community (Pat Shortt)
Community building is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement ofcommunity between individuals within a regional area (such as a neighbourhood) or with a common interest. It is sometimes encompassed under the field of community development.
A wide variety of practices can be utilized for community building, ranging from simple events likepotlucks and small book clubs, to larger–scale efforts such as mass festivals and buildingconstruction projects that involve local participants rather than outside contractors. Activistsengaged in community building efforts in industrialized nations see the apparent loss of community in these societies as a key cause of social disintegration and the emergence of many harmful behaviors. They may see building community as a means to increase social justice, individual well-being and reduce negative impacts of otherwise disconnected individuals.
Community organizing is a process by which people are brought together to act in common self-interest. While organizing describes any activity involving people interacting with one another in a formal manner, much community organizing is in the pursuit of a common agenda. Many groups seek populist goals and the ideal of participatory democracy. Community organizers create social movements by building a base of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved.
- Community art
- Community media
- Community organizing
- Community practice
- Rural community development
- Urban regeneration
- Community engagement
- Participatory planning
- ^ "Community Development Challenge Report". Produced by Community Development Foundation for Communities and Local Government. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- ^ "Definition of CDL". Federation for Community Development Learning. Retrieved 2007-07-28.
2. Briggs, Xavier de Souza, and Elizabeth Mueller and Mercer Sullivan, From Neighborhood to Community: Evidence on the Social Effects of Community Development Corporations. Community Development Research Center, 1997.
4. Grogan, Paul and Tony Proscio, Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival. Westview Press, 2002. ISBN 0813339529, 9780813339528
7. Knowledgeplex. A news and information resource for the affordable housing and community development field.http://www.knowledgeplex.org/