Vanguard Place

This blog is supported by the current Vanguard Editor, Cindy Banyai. Posts have either been written or edited by Cindy Banyai for inclusion in CDS's monthly magazine.

Courtney Purvis

Add as friend Message author   http://banyaiconsulting.com Subscribe to updates from author Subscribe via RSS
Dr. Cindy Banyai is the Chief Operations Officer of Around the Clock Caring, a new nonprofit organization that focuses on transitional housing, employment mentoring, and network development for homeless families.

She is originally from the Detroit area, but settled in Southwest Florida to start her family in 2008. Raising young children in Lee County fostered her commitment to the community and sparked her participation in local groups such as BikeWalkLee and the Greater Fort Myers Area Michigan State University Alumni Club.

Dr. Banyai has worked in the field of community development since 2000, including 2 years with Michigan State University Community Outreach, 7 years as a development consultant (clients such as the Japanese government and IREX). She received her Master’s and Ph.D. from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan where her research focused on community development, public administration, evaluation, participatory methods, and governance.

Her works have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Rural Society and Asia Pacific World. She also edited and contributed to the books The Public Administration Handbook of Japan and Global Movements of the Asia Pacific. Dr. Banyai's first solo book, Community Capacity and Development - New Approaches to Governance and Evaluation, was published in 2011.

Editor's Note: Apologies for Delay

Spring has sprung and it seems as though everyone has a lot on their plate at the moment. These competing needs (along with some technical difficulties) has made it difficult to publish this month's Vanguard on its regularly scheduled date of the 15th. We know you count on keeping up to date through the monthly publication of the Community Development Society's Vanguard. I sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and hope that you still find the content as useful and engaging as usual. 

1770 Hits

President's Update: Reminder to Vote and Other CDS Related Information

By Bo Beaulieu

Let me begin this month’s column by urging our members to complete their online ballot for this year’s slate of officers and board members.  The deadline is May 1st. You will need your unique log-in information that was provided in the email sent to you by CDS Secretary Abbie Gaffey on February 17, 2014.  Please cast your vote today so your voice can be heard.

Another item I would like to bring to your attention is the request by the Community Change Resource Bank for your help in identifying and submitting key resources that can further enhance the value of this web-based site. Over the next few weeks, graduate students from South Dakota State University will be working with the Community Change Resource Bank organizing team to collect as many sources of data as possible in hopes that the online clearinghouse of community change practices, research, and resources will be ready for unveiling at the CDS conference in Dubuque, IA this coming July. 

The project, launched by members of the Community Change Network, has tapped the expertise and active involvement of a number of CDS members.  What I am pleased to note is that the countless hours of work they have devoted to this effort has resulted in the creation of an online network called RuralXChange.

I want to express my thanks to many of our key CDS leaders who have dedicated their time and expertise to the development of “The Resource Bank,” including past presidents Mary Emery, Connie Loden and Jane Leonard, CDS member Milan Wall, as well as Karen Fasimpaur who is guiding the creation of the RuralXChange and Community Change Resource Bank.  

I hope you will take the time to submit your ideas and relevant resource links here. If you have questions, please send an email to Jane Leonard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

The 2014 annual meeting in Dubuque is fast approaching.  Our local host committee is putting together some exciting mobile learning workshops. Moreover, the program committee has communicated with all who have submitted proposals. If your proposal has been approved for the upcoming meeting, please make sure Dave Lamie knows of your plans to take part in the annual meeting. He’ll need this information in order to finalize the conference program. 

 

Finally, the CDS Business Office should be releasing the online registration system in the next week or two. So, keep an eye on your email for information on how to register for the 2014 annual conference.  Take care

 

 

 

1777 Hits

Charts of Note - April

Rural Population Decline Continues in 2013

Median Farm Household Income Has Exceeded Median U.S. Household Income in Recent Years

Conservation Funding Shifts toward Working Land Conservation under the Agricultural Act of 2014

Agricultural Act of 2014 Maintains SNAP’s Basic Eligibility Guidelines

2014 Farm Act Increases Spending to Support Organic Agriculture

Composition of Top U.S. Food Retailers Changed between 2008 and 2012

Rural Child Poverty at Highest Level Since Mid-1980s

1681 Hits

Community Development Headlines - CDS UpFront April 2014

Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University

Get Intersectional! (Or, Why Your Movement Can't Go It Alone)

Poverty and Deep Poverty Increasing in Rural America

Where Inequality Is Worst In The United States

USDA: Recent Population Change

Housing is the Key to Family-Friendly Cities

Speak Your Piece: A Dwelling Place

'Living Innovation Zones' Transform Public Space in San Francisco

These Little Hacks Make Cities More Sustainable And Fun

Focusing on People, Not Sprawl

The Part-Time, Freelance, Collaborative Economy

Direct-Farm Sales May Boost Local Growth

America's New Brainpower Cities

After Death of Radical Mayor, Mississippi's Capital Wrestles With His Economic Vision

Finding Big Success in a Small Town

'Sometimes a Great Notion': Sink or Swim

Video: Can Co-Ops Curb Poverty In New York City?

5 Habits of Companies that Rock at Giving Back

Concentrated Wealth or Democracy, but Not Both

 

  Occasional Paper: Toward an Epistemological Foundation for Social and Solidarity Economy

 

  Occasional Paper: Social and Solidarity Economy: Between Emancipation and Reproduction

 

  Occasional Paper: Understanding Social and Solidarity Economy in Emergent Communities: Lessons from Post–Fast Track Land Reform Farms in Mazowe, Zimbabwe

 

  Social and Solidarity Economy: A New Path to Sustainable Development (Beyond 2015 Brief No. 5)

 

1806 Hits

Emerging Leadership Theories for Community Leadership

 

 

 

 

By: Whitney McIntyre Miller

As a leadership studies scholar, I often get to explore the many ways that people utilize and think about leadership.  My passion for community development often influences that way I think about leadership.  While giving a recent lecture on emerging leadership theories, I began thinking about how they would translate to communities and leaders of community organizations.  Below I share my thoughts on these emerging leadership theories and how they may impact communities and community leaders.

Increasingly, emerging leadership theories focus on collectivism, connectedness, and seeing our world as a living system.  Gone are the days of the solo “hero” leader that sweeps into our communities and community organizations and creates great change and growth.  We realize that our world is complex and interconnected, and our communities are becoming equally as diverse and multifaceted.  Therefore these new emerging leadership theories will help community leaders think about the future of their communities and help to move their whole communities toward this future.

In order for us to really utilize some of this new thinking it is important for us to let go of past ideas of community leadership and instead embrace new ways of thinking and leading as they emerge (Scharmer, 2009).  Scharmer (2009) told us in his work Theory U that we are at the precipice of an age of individual and collective transformational change.  What we need to do is tap into our highest potential and actually learn from for the future- a process he calls emergent learning.  This requires “presencing,” or having presence in a situation and sensing what is coming.  For communities, we must turn our senses to the future of our communities by not just looking at current detriments, but thinking about how to make our communities safe and inclusive for everyone.  What will our communities look like in five, ten years?  How do we solve those problems today?  By paying attention to what is happening and leading for the future, not the past, or even the community of today.

Wheatley (2006) worked to connect organizations to the quantum physics notion of chaos theory in order to understand how we are really connected to, with, and operate like the living systems that surround us.  The truth is that despite wanting to be in control, we live in a time of chaos.  While many of us fear chaos, we should really learn to embrace chaos, because not only is it inevitable, it is also valuable to our communities and organizations.  This value comes from the scientific evidence that there is actually order in chaos.  It is this order that, when allowed to foster, shows us patterns and emerging ideas that would not only be beneficial in reducing our levels of self-imposed stress, but could also allow for our communities and organizations to flow in a free and organic manner. 

Chaos theory in organizations provides several lessons for community leaders.  First, we must learn to be flexible and lead within chaos- we must see the big picture while also keeping our feet on the ground.   Heifetz (1994) referred to this as being both on the balcony and the dance floor.  Another lesson from Heifetz (1994) is also valuable for community leaders looking to lead through chaos.  This is the lesson of the safe holding environment.  Leaders need to provide a space that keeps things calm enough for people to maintain composure, while simultaneously allows for enough chaos to stimulate creativity and emerging thought.  If we can provide this space for our communities, then we can provide place for people to self-organize and thrive.

Western (2008) is another emerging leadership theorist that takes lessons from nature.  Western’s (2008) model of Eco-Leadership is one of distributed leadership.  He saw our collective entry into the post-heroic leadership era and understood that we must think about our environment, as well as our interdependent parts and systems in order to be successful.  Building off of Senge’s (2006) now famous systems thinking work, Western (2008) challenged us to see that any leadership task, including community leadership, should be seen through the lens of holism- we are all made up of the sum of our parts and therefore leadership can emerge from anywhere inside an organization or community.  As our communities are becoming more diverse, global, and complex, it is important for us as community leaders to understand that we need to embrace our whole community, see the interactions of the various pieces of our communities, and understand how we interact with other communities and systems in order to build a strong culture that encourages leadership from throughout the community to meet our growing future needs.

Finally, we look at the impact of Wilber’s (2001) integral model on community leadership.  Wilber (2001) designed a four quadrant model (shaped as a square with two boxes on top and two on the bottom), which includes the notions of thinking on multiple levels and contexts simultaneously.  The purpose of his model is to demonstrate that there are many facets of leadership occurring at the same time, of which we need to be conscious.  The top left quadrant is that of internal reflections of our leadership practices.  The top right quadrant focuses on our leadership interactions with others.  The bottom left quadrant is where we tend to find our communities- the space where we operate leadership within groups.  Finally, the bottom left quadrant is seen as the global environment within which our leadership occurs. 

Wilber (2001) challenged us to develop each quadrant of our leadership in order to be the best leaders possible.  For community leaders, this means that we must develop our own leadership skills through reflection and self-understanding, practice those skills with each individual with whom we interact, build communities that have strong leadership capacities and reflect the best image of community-self, and nestle that leadership work within the broader context of other communities, cities, regions, states, etc.  This, of course, is no easy task, but perhaps a noble challenge for us to consider as community leaders.  What might our communities looked like if we took the time to reflect on our leadership and embrace of leadership work in terms of self, other, community, and environment?

While each of these leadership theories may seem like a long way from the comfort of how we have been leading communities for years, if not generations, if we step back we can see that, at least in the United States, there has been a growing movement away from the hero leader and toward a need for connectivity.  Perhaps we have decided that we do not enjoy bowling alone (Putnam, 2000) after all.  It is in these cases, where we crave a sense of connectedness and collectivism that we may visit some of these emerging leadership theories and think about how they may help us, as leaders, to be more responsive to community needs and vision now and in the future.

References:

Heifetz, R. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

 

Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

 

Scharmer, O. (2009).  Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges.  San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

 

Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization (Revised edition). New York, NY: Double-Day.

 

Western, S. (2008). Leadership: A Critical Text. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

 

Wilber, K. (2000). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science, and spirituality. San Francisco, CA: Shambhala Publishing.

Wheatley, M. (2006). Leadership and the New Science, 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3074 Hits

Charts of Note - March

Principal Operators and Their Spouses Provide Most of the Labor Used on Small and Mid-Sized Family Farms

When Food Insecurity Occurs in U.S. Households, It Is Usually Recurrent but Not Chronic

Proportion of SNAP-Accepting Farmers’ Markets Varies across U.S. Regions

Participation in SNAP Varies across States, Reflecting Differences in Need and Program Policies

Rural Counties Drive 2000-11 Growth in U.S. Onshore Production of Oil and Natural Gas

1564 Hits

Community Development Headlines - CDS UpFront March 2014

Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University

 

Agricultural Act of 2014: Highlights and Implications

Family Farming in the United States

Speak Your Piece: Choosing to Get Along

New Native Project Banks on Buffalo

Dairy Tale: New Tech Could Turn Small Farms into the Land of Milk and Money

Meet The Smart Farm You Can Control with a Smartphone

Fairer Fare: How to Turn Food System Kinks into Win-Wins for Growers and Eaters

For Rural Volunteers, It’s Fire and Ice

A Small Library with Big Ideas

Meals with Wheels: A Fresh Food Movement Rolls into Boston

No, Milennials Are Not “Environmentalists.” It’s More Complicated than That

When It Comes to Climate Change, This Artist Lets the Trees Do the Talking

Drought Stokes California's Class War

No Californian Left Behind: Clean and Affordable Transportation Where It’s Needed Most

Energy Running Out of California

'Lone Eagle' Cities: Where the Most People Work From Home

What America’s Fastest-Growing Economies Have in Common

The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian

Getting Citizens Involved: How Cities Can Use Smart Technology and Social Media for Improvement

10 Lessons in More Engaging Citizen Engagement

Containing the Impacts of Gentrification for Long-Time Homeowners

1526 Hits

President's Update: Jobs and Membership: Some Encouraging Signs

By: Bo Beaulieu    

In recent days, I have had the opportunity to read emails that have announced job openings for people with community development-related backgrounds and experiences.   Despite the fact that the economy is not yet humming at the level that we would all like, I sense that something positive is happening when it comes to our discipline and profession.  My own Purdue University has just announced the creation of five new Extension regional community development positions.  Similar regional positions have been established, or are slated to be announced in the coming months by other universities.  While I am less familiar with the status of jobs in other key sectors that employ people with CD backgrounds, my gut feeling is that things are on the upswing.  It seems to me that CDS has tremendous opportunity in the coming months to attract a new cadre of people to our professional organization as these new positions get filled by some very talented individuals.

In our most recent CDS Board meeting, information on the status of our membership was discussed.  In short, our numbers are stable.  In fact, we may have witnessed a very slight increase in our membership. But, I can’t help but believe that there are a slew of outstanding individuals working in the community development field who have not joined our Society or whose membership has lapsed.  While CDS is a fiscally strong and vibrant organization, its long term sustainability rests on our ability to attract and retain members.  With the list of new CD-related positions being announced in recent weeks, it’s a good reminder that all of us have the opportunity (and responsibility) to reach out to new and longer-term colleagues.  Take time, if at all possible, to extend an invitation to these individuals to become members of the CDS and hopefully, take an active role as participants and contributors at our annual meetings.  In my view, it’s a win/win situation for them and to our organizations. 

 

1419 Hits

Advancing knowledge through the Community Development Society: Check out the Community Development “Editor’s Choice Collection”

By John Green

Community Development (CD) is a peer-reviewed journal with the purpose of disseminating the latest scholarly writings on research, education, and practice in this interdisciplinary field. Managed through the Community Development Society and published by Taylor & Francis, the journal encompasses five issues per year.

 

CD Editor John Green recently teamed up with Taylor & Francis to produce an “Editor’s Choice Collection.” This initiative is intended to advance knowledge in the field of community development by drawing attention to articles across several different themes. These include: 1) methodological and theoretical frameworks; 2) interviewing, observation, and field research; 3) survey research; 4) network analysis; and 5) community indicators and secondary data.

 

The “Editor’s Choice Collection” is available for free to the public. Please check out the list of articles for your own work, and help the Editorial Office disseminate this information to others who might be interested. Just share the following link. http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/pgas/rcod-editors-choice

1429 Hits

President's Update: Looking forward in community development

By Bo Beaulieu

I just want to devote my column this month to share with you some brief highlights. First, the extended deadline date for submission of abstracts for the 2014 CDS annual meeting in Dubuque is quickly approaching. Please take a few minutes to submit your innovative ideas for presentations, posters sessions, panel discussions or workshops here.

Second, our contract with AOM, the association handling the business affairs of the CDS, has been expired for nearly two years and as such, we were operating on the basis of “good will” between the CDS and AOM.  I am pleased to inform you with the full consent of the CDS board, a one-year contract for 2014 with AOM has now been signed and is in place.  This provides both entities a legal contract in which we can carry out the business-related activities of the Society.

Third, a team of board members conducted a site visit to Lexington, KY last week for the purpose of exploring possible hotel venues for our 2015 annual meeting.  I was honestly blown away by the exciting things going on in Lexington and the mix of activities that await our conference participants.  The local host committee, constituted of colleagues from the University of Kentucky and other partner organizations and institutions located in or near the state of KY , are already doing some superb work in anticipation of the 2015 meeting.  I promise you that the Lexington, KY meeting is going to be a “must attend” conference for our CDS members and guests.

Finally, I have been hearing through the grapevine about the expanded investments being made by our higher education institutions in the community, economic, and regional development arena.  The number of new positions that have been announced or that are slated to be announced in the near future is exhilarating.  Simply put, the value and importance of what we do as a profession and discipline is gaining traction in several universities and colleges.  If you happen to be at a university, college, government agency, nonprofit organization, or other association that has hired new people engaged in community/economic development-related work, please urge them to become a member of the CDS.  It’s a great way to get them connected to a team of colleagues across the world that is doing innovative research, application, and technical assistance work that’s  resulting in positive improvements in the lives of people, communities and regions.

I wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day and look forward to sharing more exciting news with you in my March column.  Take care!!

 

1665 Hits

February Charts of Note

Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

 

Many Federal Food Assistance Programs Rooted in the War on Poverty

Direct Government Payments to Producers as a Share of Gross Cash Farm Income (GCFI) Have Fallen in Recent Years

Fruit and Vegetable Prices Respond Differently to Oil Price Increases Based on Shipping Route and Carrier

Agriculture and Its Related Industries Provide 9.2 Percent of U.S. Employment

Incomes fell For U.S. Families in All Income Groups between 2007 and 2012

The Conservation Reserve Program Is Regionally Concentrated

Food Insecurity among Children Linked to Educational Attainment of Adult Household Members

Working-Age Adults Ate Fewer Meals, Snacks, and Calories Away From Home Following the 2007-09 Recession

Rural Veterans More Likely to Graduate from High School and Obtain College Degrees

Crop Acreage Has Shifted to Larger Farms

WIC Program Benefits from Large Rebates on Infant Formula 

1782 Hits

Community Development Headlines - CDS UpFront February 2014

By Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

Why State Economic Development Strategies Should Be Metro-Centric

How the Daily Commute Hurts Civic Engagement

Rich, Poor, and Unequal Zip Codes

USDA’s Food Assistance Programs: Legacies of the War on Poverty

Food Insecurity in Households With Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics, 2010-11

Food Hubs: Sustainable Agriculture’s Missing Link

Why the Food Movement Must Focus on Raising Food Workers' Wages

Drought in the West Is Bringing Hard Times to Minority Farmers

America's Future Cities: Where The Youth Population Is Booming

America's Glass Half-Empty, or Half-Full?

Dynamic Redevelopment for Everyone

Where the Oil Boom Sounds the Loudest

Fracking Jobs Come with Costs, Paper Says

A "Pay-It-Forward" Approach to Funding Solar Power

Accommodating Floods Instead of Destroying Waterways

FCC to Launch Rural Broadband Trials

Blue-Collar Hot Spots

Rural Veterans At A Glance

Speak Your Piece: The Vanishing Postmaster

A Good-Bye to Norma Jean

Still 'Black and White and Read All Over'

Zapatista Communities Celebrate 20 Years of Self-Government

1721 Hits

President's Update: Honoring and Engaging Our Past Presidents

By Bo Beaulieu

It is hard to believe that our annual meeting is only six months away.  If you’ve not done so yet, please take time to submit a proposal to be an active part of the 2014 meeting since the deadline date is quickly approaching.   I can tell you that the program planning committee has confirmed some exciting speakers to be part of our meeting, so I hope you will opt to attend and be a formal part of our 2014 conference.

I am pleased to inform you that we have established a CDS Past Presidents Committee and several previous presidents of our Society have agreed to be part of this new committee.  In a recent letter to the committee members, I outlined some of the important input and guidance that I am hoping the group will provide to both the Board and me.  This includes taking part in one or more panel sessions at the 2014 meeting, thus allowing some of our younger members to interact with some of the pillars of Society.  Moreover, past presidents will be asked to share their insights on how we can continue to grow our endowment and how they may wish to contribute to a special issue of the Community Development journal.  Other areas in which they would like to assist will be discussed as well.

Furthermore, in partnership with the 2014 program planning committee, we will be inviting our living past presidents to take part in this year’s meeting. We will honor these individuals as part of the opening reception.   It should be a special event and I can’t wait to say “thank you” to these individuals on behalf of the CDS. 

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to hearing from you.  Please feel free to email be at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Take care!

1710 Hits

Shifting from Resolutions

Here we are and it's January again. It's a time of renewal, or simply catch-up after the holiday season. I decided not to make any resolutions this year, but rather to focus on a few goals and areas for improvement. Many of these relate to my career as a community development practitioner, such as being more timely and to take on less responsibility. I want to focus on this things that are most important to me in 2014, namely my family and my career, which is why I started out with these simpler points. Likewise, I want Vanguard to continue to improve and be an important resource for me fellow CDS members and colleagues. Do you have any CD resolutions you want to share? Do you have any ideas on how Vanguard can improve to be more useful to you? Share your thoughts here!

1655 Hits

Community Development Headlines - CDS UpFront January 2014

Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

 

Obama Names 2 Rural “Promise Zones”

The Wicked Problem of Urban Biodiversity

Should Planners Encourage Diverse Neighborhoods?

Urbanization Has Been Destroying the Environment since the Very First Cities

The Abuse of Art in Economic Development

An Uneasy Truce: The War on Poverty

JFK’s Rural Development Legacy

“Picked Off Like a Single Quail”

Farm Policy Made the Republic: Now What?

Philly’s New Land Bank: Will It Give Blighted Communities a Boost?

Veggies at the Liquor Store—and 5 Other Ways to Bring Food to Your Community

Political, Economic Power Grow More Concentrated

Rural Character in America’s Metropolitan Areas

To Rebuild, the Midwest Must Face Its Real and Severe Problems

Fighting the Vacant Property Plague

Where Are the Boomers Headed? Not Back to the City

This Land Is Ours: African Americans and the Great Outdoors

1803 Hits

January Charts of Note

Farm Estate Taxes Vary by Type of Family Farm

Which American Households Struggle to Put Food on the Table?

How long do food-insecure households remain food insecure?

Emerging Energy Industries Have Had Varied Impacts on Local Employment in Rural Areas

Small Family Farms Account for Most U.S. Farms and a Majority of Farm Assets

Minorities Represent a Lower Share of Rural Veterans than of the Rural Population

Rural High-Poverty Counties Are Concentrated in the South and Southwest

Poorest SNAP Households Least Likely to Get Additional Support from Unemployment Insurance

What Is “Very Low Food Security?”

2044 Hits

4 ways to promote community participation and engagement

Helping Rural Communities address Drinking Water Needs through Best Practices in Community Development

By Chris Marko, Rural Development Specialist with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), Community Development Society (CDS) Board Member

As this country’s infrastructure continues to age, communities face increasing challenges with providing  basic services, including drinking water.  While the majority of the nation’s population lives in larger communities, there are many more small communities, and drinking water systems.  Statistically small communities (less than 5,000 in population) are more likely to face compliance violations, which require system improvements and can be costly.  Small communities often have limited revenue base to pay for large projects, limited technical, managerial, and financial capacity to take on projects, and political will at the local level to bear the burden of taking on necessary improvements is becoming more and more of a challenge.  

20 years ago grant money was more available.  Now much of the available financing for projects is in the form of loans that require taking on debt.  To compound issues, many communities have not kept up with costs to cover existing and future costs of operating systems, which can cause “sticker shock” when faced with the need to finance a multi-million dollar drinking water project.  In my work I assist communities who face these challenges and would like to share how some best practices in community development help me work with staff, elected officials, and the public.

1. Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives. The past few months I have been involved with a community facing opposition from community members regarding a proposed drinking water project.  The public meeting last month was very contentious and participants asked many questions which the city could not answer at the time.  As a next step part of the strategy was to be responsive and address questions specifically, reach out to the community, and conduct additional public meetings.  The city held two meetings that included responses to the questions and was facilitated in a way that encouraged participation in a constructive and considerate manner.  While there was opposition to the project expressed, the meeting went much better as people were heard and acknowledged. 

2. Engage community members in learning about and understanding community issues, and the economic, social, environmental, political, psychological, and other impacts associated with alternative courses of action.  The city considered a number of alternatives to making drinking water improvements.  The city faced a compliance issue regarding water pressure which needed to be addressed to meet State requirements.  The master plan identified a number of additional deficiencies in the water system, including distribution lines, fire hydrants, and storage.  The city has worked with funding agencies to identify a funding package with the lowest interest loan with some “principal forgiveness” (no interest) funding available.  The city presented various funding scenarios, reasons for taking on a project which goes beyond meeting compliance, and considers additional improvements which will be necessary for the future of the community residents and economy.  In response to questions about relief for low income residents regarding a rate increase the city responded by working with the local non-profit community action agency to develop a fund for water rate assistance for low income residents which incorporated the diverse interests and cultures of the community in the community development process.

3. Work actively to enhance the leadership capacity of community members, leaders, and groups within the community.  By facilitating the most recent public meetings in a manner that encouraged community participants to share their views in a constructive, considerate manner, and emphasizing how the city appreciates input, and will continue to be responsive to questions significantly helped the process.  Part of the outreach strategy developed included connecting with local groups and attending meetings to further educate the community about the importance of improving the drinking water system.  As a technical assistance provider I reviewed statements prepared by the lead city council person who presented a summary of reasons why the city needed to take on the project.  Comments emphasized how city leaders need to be responsive to address the existing compliance issue, and also consider the health and safety of residents by providing adequate fire protection, pressure, and storage for the future.  The community has not made significant improvements to the system for over 20 years.  By encouraging councilors to conduct outreach within their community, connect with individuals and groups, and continue to be open, responsive, and appreciative of comments and questions, the feedback on the recent two public meetings was much better due to enhanced community leadership.

4. Be open to using the full range of action strategies to work toward the long-term sustainability and well- being of the community.  As mentioned by city leaders at meetings, news articles, and radio interviews the city reviewed a number of alternatives to address the compliance issue, and considered additional improvements to address deficiencies.  The city decided to take on a larger project, with higher cost utilizing the best available finance terms, than the “minimum fix”.  Community members felt there were options to consider regarding financing, including a general obligation bond instead of the low interest loan package.  The city responded by reviewing the potential financial impact of a general obligation bond on residents compared to the low interest loan package (which included some principal forgiveness).  Based on consultation with bond counsel it was determined the estimated financial impact of the general obligation bond would be higher than the proposed project using loan financing.  Some community members still felt the city should only address the minimum fix and place the burden of financing the project on the few residents where water pressure was lowest.  The city did not feel this was an equitable for the community and decided on a project in terms of long term community benefit. 

While controversy about the proposed water project still exists, more people have expressed support for the proposed project at recent public meetings, and expressed appreciation for the time and effort the city council, staff, and resource providers have taken to respond to questions and remain proactive about addressing problems which have not been dealt with for many years.  The city has utilized principals of good practice in community development to engage the community, respond to questions and issues raised, and address what it feels is in the best interest of the community as a whole.  This is one of many examples of how communities are trying to deal with the challenge of providing basic services, including something essential to life and community sustainability—drinking water.

 

Edited by Cindy Banyai

Picture shared from here

23502 Hits

Looking Forward to 2014

2013 has been a fast-moving year full of many surprises and opportunities. I've learned a lot taking over the helm of Vanguard and I hope you are liking the changes. I want Vanguard to be your connection to the activities and events of the Community Development Society, as well as a way to stay abreast of the latest news and opportunities in our field. With that in mind, please feel free to share your ideas on ways to better use this publication for our community of interest and practice. This edition will the last of 2013 and I'm looking forward to growing and sharing more with you in 2014. Wishing you the best over the holidays and a happy new year!

 

Image borrowed from here

 

1762 Hits

November Charts of Note

Persistence of poverty varies across the U.S.

Multiple-operator farms are prevalent among large and very large family farms

Children accounted for 45 percent of SNAP participants in 2011

1958 Hits

Community Development Headlines - CDS UpFront November 2013

Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

Civic Tech and Mobile Engagement 2.0

Rural Unemployment Down, but So Is Workforce

The Aging of Rural Primary Care Physicians

America's Fastest-Growing Counties: The 'Burbs Are Back

10 Traits of 'Globally Fluent' Cities

A Year After Sandy, a Co-op Alliance Could Bring Jobs Back to the Rockaways

Density, Unpacked: Is Creative Class Theory a Front for Real Estate Greed?

Lessons from a Pay-It-Forward Restaurant: The Importance of Gratitude

Moment of roof: Urban farming entrepreneur explains how he got on top

Who Is Adopting Organic Farming Practices?

Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities: Strategies for Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, and Equitable Development

The Economy of Smallness: Making Economic Exchange a Loving Human Interaction

Route 7: A Real Country Music Highway

Sedan, Kansas: A Town that Invests in Itself

Main Street Comeback: How Independent Stores are Thriving

Southern Survival: On the Gulf Coast, a Community Fights for Its Life

Effects of Changes in SNAP Benefits on Food Security

Where Are The Boomers Headed? Not Back To The City

The Cycles of Wind Power Development

Financing Young and Beginning Farmers

1636 Hits
Powered by EasyBlog for Joomla!