Make a difference in your community
There's no manual or single approach to making a difference in your community, nor one single course you can take. Most learning takes place once you start doing things in your community. It's a journey of many ups and downs, frustrations and successes, hinapouri and koa.
Community development is described as an approach that increases opportunities for people to participate, enables the transfer of skills, develops self reliance, ensures local ownership, and uses local resources to solve local issues. This approach is not reliant on paid professionals, instead it is often led by ordinary people in their communities.
Anaru Eketone and Pat Shannon, from the Social Work and Community Development Department at Otago University, describe community development as a way of working that takes “a collective approach to achieving an overall healthy community”.
Massey University teachers Robyn Munford and Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata talk about community development as a process and a way of perceiving the world. It is not something “that should be viewed as a job, but as a 'mindset'". They say this mindset can be used by community advisors, social workers, other professionals and people working at the grassroots. Having a vision of the future, understanding power and achieving self-determination are some of the guiding principles for community development say Munford and Walsh-Tapiata.
To effectively engage with Māori and support their developmental aspirations, the Department of Internal Affairs takes a relationship-building approach steeped in tikanga Māori. The Department recognises the importance of tikanga as it supports community development by providing advice and access to funding for communities. Te Whakamotuhaketanga Hapū is the Department's strategy for working with Māori communities. The strategy sets out how service delivery to Māori communities can be improved and how their views can be reflected in the development and administration of policies.
'Community engagement' is the term used by The Tamarack Institute in Canada to describe its approach to making a difference. Set up to find ways of helping different sectors work together strategically and comprehensively to build stronger communities, the Institute believes people working together can solve major community challenges. In a nutshell, the Institute talks about “people working collaboratively, through inspired action and learning, to create and realize bold visions for their common future”.
Some thinkers are framing the response to system change in terms of learning across whole societies. They say old ways of relating within and between organisations need to be rejuvenated so more new ideas can be created and put into practice.
Links and references
The links and references listed here have been put together to help you:
- get ideas on how to make a difference in your community
- reflect on the practices and processes of this broad approach to community work.
(NB: The following links are aimed at both people starting out and experienced practitioners).