Community Development Dynamics
The major forces that make up communities are naturally complementary, and together create the development dynamics of the community. Council, administration, CDEP participants, and the community itself, make up those groups on some communities.
Community Development is about making a community more self-directing, self-governing, self-managing, and self-relying. These are the four interlocking aspects of community development. Each is essential to the overall process, each being a vital link in an endless flow of information. No one aspect can work well independent of the others, for each is reliant on receiving information from one aspect, and must in turn pass on information to another aspect that relies upon itself. When working properly, this process is one of spiralling upward providing continual upliftment and improvement, enabling the community to become more and more self-directing, self-governing, self-managing and self-relying.
When a community takes charge of its own destiny, we say it has self-direction. This means the community itself, and not outsiders taking charge, or giving it their direction. And it means involvement by the whole community, and not some small, select group within the community. The whole community needs to be involved in determining the direction the community should be heading in, and the steps it must take in order to get there. Community self-direction is always towards greater self-reliance, the ultimate outcome of Community Development. Greater self-reliance means a more financially secure, affluent, and healthy community, where family life is exiting and fulfilling for each member, including the children and the aged.
To develop true self-direction, there needs to be widespread discussion about what kinds of things would be good for the whole community. These discussions need to be widespread, throughout the whole community, and should be the theme underlying all other conversations. Only when such discussions become commonplace will a common community vision arise – a vision that serves the whole community, where everybody has a valid and important contribution to make. This vision must always be a shared community vision, with each person participating in it, and contributing towards it.
Self-Direction is the responsibility of the whole community, not just one section of the community, nor any one particular person. Each community member needs to see with increasing clarity how the community as a whole is aiming to achieve greater self-reliance, and what contribution he or she is can make towards the overall goal. Without self-direction, the community has not the depth, the strength or the motivation to see it through times of difficulty on its way to true independence. Without self-direction, the community is at the mercy of all distorting and undermining outside pressures that will seek to take it away from its true goal.
Self-Government means developing policies and making decisions that steer development towards this shared community vision of independence and self-reliance. This is the responsibility of the Governing Committee. The Committee’s job is to glean this shared vision into a real, practical possibility. Committee members need to be dedicated, receptive, astute and wise. The Chairperson’s function is to encourage each committee members’ contribution by facilitating relaxed, open, honest and relevant communication, free of coercion, persuasion, suppression, favouritism or bias. This requires him or her to be an exceedingly open and receptive person. By being open and receptive, the Chairperson assists councillors to be open and receptive to the whole community. This way there is a free flow of ideas and information. It is the Chairperson’s job to communicate to the community what progress is being made, what difficulties are being encountered, and what projects are next to begin. He, more than anybody else in the community are answerable to the people of the community.
Self-Management refers to control of the economic and financial affairs of the community. This means ensuring that all expenditure is prudent, all projects are soundly managed financially, and that the community never runs short of money to finance its own affairs. It also means recording all financial transactions and providing periodic reports to Committee to help guide it in making the best decisions. This is the job of Administration. The Coordinator is in charge of all administrative matters and works in close consultation with the Committee and with the Works Supervisor. He keeps them in the picture as to where the community stands financially, and what monies are available for which projects.
Self-Reliance is about the community moving towards having full control of it own affairs. This means that not only must the community be doing things for itself, but also must be doing the things that give it more power and strength. This is achieved by doing things that improve the community. As the community improves, it becomes less dependent on outside controls and supports. The sort of things that improve communities are generating its own income, building its own houses and buildings, repairing its own houses and vehicles, running its own businesses, producing its own food, and clothing, taking care of its own people and looking after their health. As the community becomes more self-reliant, it becomes a far more exiting, fulfilling and enjoyable place for everyone to live in. Self-Reliance is carried out by the community’s workforce and is under the oversight of the Works Supervisor. The workforce brings the vision into manifestation. Because they are community members, they are also the ones creating the vision.
Thus communication travels the full circle. The community tells the Committee the way it wants to develop towards self-reliance. Committee makes policy to facilitate this happening. Under the coordinator, office-staff administer this policy and the workforce constructs the items that bring about self-reliance. As the circle is completed and a circuit of communication and resultant action manifests, the circle transforms into an upward spiral of ongoing improvement and development.
Community Development requires everybody gets involved, just as traditionally, everybody was involved. There is always much to learn in creating an ever-improving wholistic and sustainable community. Becoming empowered, taking charge one’s health and life, living wholistically and sustainably can involve a lifetime of learning and experiencing some of the most interesting and enjoyable subjects and fields of knowledge. No one has time to be bored.