Exercise 1: 10 Steps to Community Development
In this exercise you are asked to envision yourself working in a situation where you are invited to participate in a community development initiative. Use your imagination to fill in the details of the actions you take and their results.
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You are the manager of a small health organization which has been established in a strip mall within a new suburban community. During its development, little thought was given to the needs of the residents once they moved in. There are no grocery stores or department stores within a 5 mile radius. There is a small stretch of green space along the river but no other parkland or playgrounds. There is an elementary school, surrounded by pavement but no playground equipment is in place. There is no pool, skating arena, public transportation or other community facilities. This is a mixed housing development, including smaller detached houses, townhouses, several three-story walk ups and an apartment building. Housing prices are lower in this community because of its proximity to a major highway and industries. Many of the residents are families with lower incomes who have moved to this location because of its relative affordability. Residents are from a variety of ethno-cultural groups but are scattered and do not have any facilities for gathering or worshipping together.
You have been approached by another worker in the area to work with her to help create a more supportive environment that will meet more of the residents' needs and develop positive social networks. You have just taken the OHCC Online Community Development Course and are excited at the prospect of putting the "10 Steps to Community Development" to into action.
Step 1. Learn about the community
What are some of the ways you can learn about the community, on your own, before embarking on a community development initiative
Step 2. Listen to community members
(a) How can you connect informally with community members?
(b) How will you introduce yourself?
(c) What questions will you ask?
Step 3: Bring people together to develop a shared vision
(a) Who will you invite?
(b) Where will you hold the visioning session?
(c) What outcomes do you hope to achieve at the gathering?
Step 4: Assess community assets and resources, needs and issues
Briefly describe two methods you might use to assess the community's assets, resources, needs and/or issues.
Type of Assessment
Description of Activity
Step 5: Help community members to recognize and articulate areas of concern and their causes.
Many issues and needs were raised at the community visioning session, along with several suggestions of possible sources of financial and in-kind resources. Five residents and several service providers indicated they would be interested in helping to work towards improvements in their community.
Your task is to follow up with those that indicated an interest in being involved and help them to process the results of the community visioning session. You will explore with them the areas of concern that were voiced, in more depth than was possible at the visioning session, and examine their root causes. You have decided to tackle this task by organizing a meeting.
(a) Who will you invite?
(b) How will you invite them?
(d) When and where will you hold the meeting?
(e) What do you hope will be the outcome of the meeting?
Step 6: Establish a "vehicle for change"
In order for the community change effort to be effective, there needs to be some organizational structure and processes in place. In this case, at an initial meeting, those that indicated an interest in working together to improve the community decided to form a community coalition, made up of both organizations and residents.
(a) In addition to community residents, what (if any) organizations do you think should be recruited to join the coalition?
(b) What are some of the governing principles you think the coalition should adopt? (e.g. How are decisions made? Who can speak on behalf of the coalition? How are coalition members informed of meetings and actions taken on behalf of the coalition?)
Step 7: Develop an action plan
For the purposes of this exercise, imagine that the coalition has selected a particular goal to pursue (for example, developing a welcoming and supportive community for newcomers to Canada, or establishing a park and playground within their community) Use the action planning chart below to identify what needs to be done, when, who should do it and what resources will be required.
Community Action Plan
Step 8: Implement action plan
It is likely that funds will be required to implement the action plan.
(a) What are the risks, from a community development point of view, in accessing external funding and developing close working relationships with funding sources? How can the risks be lessened?
(c) Are there local funding sources that could be tapped?
Step 9: Evaluate results of actions
The community coalition has worked hard with its many partners and supporters to meet their goal. How will you evaluate whether your project has been successful?
(a) What are your criteria for success?
(b) Who will be involved in the evaluation process?
(c) Using simple procedures, how will you assess the degree of success of your initiative?
(d) How will you assess the process of the initiative; i.e. how well the coalition functioned?
Step 10: Reflect and regroup
(a) What activities will help the group to "wrap up" the project?
(b) Are there any "spin off" benefits or unintended outcomes of the project? (use your imagination)
(c) How will you assess whether there is interest or energy for tackling another area of concern from the list developed at the community visioning session?