What is community?
Community / (ke-my¡¹nî-tê) noun: a. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government. b. The district or locality in which such a group lives.
Culture / cul·ture / (kùl¹cher) noun: The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. culture is learned behavior, forced upon an individual by their families, friends, and neighborhoods. Some of the behavior is genetic, passed on throughout family history. But the majority of a person’s behavior is shaped by human experience, the culture they grow up in. If a person is born in Smethwick, they learn a behavior that enables them to live in their neighborhood. They also are taught acceptable behavior within their family. They may choose not to obey or agree to the behavior, but they learn it just the same. There isn’t a conscious choice to avoid the teachings of culture.
Lets talk about community…
A group of people living or working together in the same area. People in communities might go to the same schools, shop in the same stores and do the same things. They also help each other and solve problems together. If it’s a bigger community, the people in it might not always go to the same places, but they might like or believe in the same things.
What kind of communities are you in? Let us start with your family. They are a type of community because they usually live together and do a lot of the same things. Then there are your friends. They share your ideas and probably go to the same school. Your neighborhood is a community. Your town or city is a community in your state. Your state is a community that is part of the United Kindgom. What is the biggest community? Probably the universe. We are all part of it.
In a way, bees and ants are a community. They live and work together and solve problems by working together. Many animals live in their own kinds of communities.
Communities Help Each Other
People in communities help each other. By working together, they can solve problems that are too big for one person.
Take a piece of paper. Rip in it half. One piece of paper does not stand a chance against you! It is an easy thing to do. Now take lots of sheets of paper. Try to rip them in half. It is much harder to do because the pieces of paper work together to create one strong thing. In a way, this is like a community. By working together, many smaller parts can make something very strong.
An example of a community working together is planting more trees in the park. Planting one tree is a big job, so imagine how much work planting 100 trees would be! If a community works together, they are like the paper. Your community is stronger when they work together. It can plant a lot more trees and get the job done much faster.
What is community development?
Community development is a way of strengthening civil society by prioritising the actions of communities, and their perspectives in the development of social, economic and environmental policy. It seeks the empowerment of local communities, taken to mean both geographical communities, communities of interest or identity and communities organising around specific themes or policy initiatives. It strengthens the capacity of people as active citizens through their community groups, organisations and networks; and the capacity of institutions and agencies (public, private and non-governmental) to work in dialogue with citizens to shape and determine change in their communities. It plays a crucial role in supporting active democratic life by promoting the autonomous voice of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. It has a set of core values/social principles covering human rights, social inclusion, equality and respect for diversity; and a specific skills and knowledge base.
Good community development is action that helps people to recognise and develop their ability and potential and organise themselves to respond to problems and needs which they share. It supports the establishment of strong communities that control and use assets to promote social justice and help improve the quality of community life. It also enables community and public agencies to work together to improve the quality of government.
Elev8 Projects promotes best practice in community development using this model:
Purpose: People want to live in healthy communities. These are communities in which they:
- feel able to be who they are
- have positive prospects for their future
- experience respect and equal and fair treatment
Focus: To achieve this people want to be in a community that:
- creates wealth and gives everyone access to its benefits
- cares for all its members, when they need it, throughout their life span
- provides an environment that is safe and attractive
- enables people to express and celebrate their creativity and diverse cultures
- enables everyone to participate in decisions that affect their lives
Methods: To support them to contribute to the creation of such a community, community development promotes:
- opportunity for people to learn and develop their own skills
- reaches out to and involves those who may be excluded or disadvantaged
- helps communities to create organisations that can tackle their needs and represent their interests
- works to promote engagement and dialogue between communities and agencies that affect their lives
Elev8 contributes and subscribes to a Declaration on Community Development and works to the core values of community development from the ABCD model. Elev8 is also a member of the European Community Development Network, which establishes a shared understanding of community development across Europe.