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.
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.
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
Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University
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.
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.
Principal Operators and Their Spouses Provide Most of the Labor Used on Small and Mid-Sized Family Farms
Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University
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.
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
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!!
Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
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
Working-Age Adults Ate Fewer Meals, Snacks, and Calories Away From Home Following the 2007-09 Recession
By Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
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.
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!
Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
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
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
Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs