By Gisele Hamm
September is here once again and change is in the air. The day my youngest son’s junior year of high school started, even the temperature that day seemed to abruptly signify that summer had turned to fall. For those of us who work on a university campus, we’ve experienced a change in our environment as the campus transitioned from the quiet summer break to the start of another busy fall semester.
During a phone call with long-time CDS member, Ron Hustedde this past week, we once again reflected on this year’s CDS conference in Lexington, and the change it represented. The ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the CDS and IACD presidents signified new opportunities for the organizations to support community development globally in a collaborative manner. The activities, events and presentations, focused around the conference theme of “creativity and culture,” encouraged participants to “think outside the box” and explore all of the intriguing ways the world is changing around us. We even saw exciting change occurring with regard to the composition of the membership and leadership of the organization, with greater diversity and an increase in community development professionals under the age of 40.
It was rather timely that this week I received a copy of the new book, Rural Communities: Legacy and Change, authored by CDS members, Cornelia Butler Flora, Jan L. Flora, and Stephen P. Gasteyer. While I have yet to begin reading it from cover to cover, I couldn’t resist skimming some of the chapters—and Chapter 12—Generating Community Change—was of particular interest, not only because of the change we are fostering in our “community” of community development professionals (CDS), but also because community change is the theme for the 2016 CDS conference. The authors discuss the importance of two factors found in the major approaches to community development—planning and linkages to outside sources or strategic partnerships. Last fall, the CDS board participated in a strategic planning process in which five core goals were identified to provide the organization with some direction for the next few years. The five goals included augmenting the Society’s recognition and reputation; improving operations and ensuring sustainability of the organization; enhancing and increasing the opportunities and resources provided to community development professionals; and expanding, diversifying, and engaging CDS membership. The importance of linkages or strategic partnerships to the organization is evident throughout the plan—strengthening relationships internally among members and externally with other organizations is essential. The creation of interest groups in which members can interact with other community development practitioners and researchers is one way CDS is working to enhance the experience for our membership. Our connections with IACD, NACDEP, and other community development organizations will continue to evolve and grow stronger in the next few years as we work to provide joint conferences and other engaging opportunities for our members.
It is an exciting time to be a CDS member!