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Community Development Principles – Frequently Flaunted?

February 8, 2011

Julian Dobson usefully reminded me this morning;

Cracking on with ideas is good. Rooting them in community development principles and practical action is even better.

But what are these principles?  A quick bit of web research found this list from CDX in Sheffield:

Values

Community development workers support individuals, groups and organisations in this process on the basis of certain values and practice principles.

The values at the core of community development are:

  • social justice
  • self-determination
  • working and learning together
  • sustainable communities
  • participation
  • reflective practice

The practice principles that underpin these values are:

Social justice

  • respecting and valuing diversity and difference
  • challenging oppressive and discriminatory actions and attitudes
  • addressing power imbalances between individuals, within groups and society
  • committing to pursue civil and human rights for all
  • seeking and promoting policy and practices that are just and enhance equality whilst challenging those that are not

Self-determination

  • valuing the concerns or issues that communities identify as their starting points
  • raising people’s awareness of the range of choices open to them, providing opportunities for discussion of implications of options
  • promoting the view that communities do not have the right to oppress other communities
  • working with conflict within communities

Working and learning together

  • demonstrating that collective working is effective
  • supporting and developing individuals to contribute effectively to communities
  • developing a culture of informed and accountable decision making
  • ensuring all perspectives within the community are considered
  • sharing good practice in order to learn from each other

Sustainable communities

  • promoting the empowerment of individuals and communities
  • supporting communities to develop their skills to take action
  • promoting the development of autonomous and accountable structures
  • learning from experiences as a basis for change
  • promoting effective collective and collaborative working
  • using resources with respect for the environment

Participation

  • promoting the participation of individuals and communities, particularly those traditionally marginalised / excluded
  • recognising and challenging barriers to full and effective participation
  • supporting communities to gain skills to engage in participation
  • developing structures that enable communities to participate effectively
  • sharing good practice in order to learn from each other

Reflective practice

  • promoting and supporting individual and collective learning through reflection on practice
  • changing practice in response to outcomes of reflection
  • recognising the constraints and contexts within which community development takes place
  • recognising the importance of keeping others informed and updated about the wider context

This looks like a pretty good list of design criteria.

  • Anything missing?
  • Anything better?

Reading through this list and reviewing some of the current enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes being delivered in the name of community development and regeneration I am finding it hard to find (m)any that don’t significantly fail several of these tests of principles and values.

And I can’t help but think this matters…

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One Comment
  1. ‘Sustainable Communities’ – principles read like it ought to be labelled ‘viable communities’… missing the deeper/wider ‘sustainability-mindedness’

    x thinking and acting with present and future generations in mind
    x working with imagination (as well as ‘experience’) to see opportunities, routes and actions afresh
    x connecting and integrating financial, social and ecological issues and uncertainties
    x working mindful of resilience, robustness, surprises and ‘back-up plans’
    x being grounded in place

    Akin to Wendell Berry’s notion of ‘good work’ perhaps

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