Community Development Society
By Dave Lamie
It's hard to believe that the middle of February has already passed us by. A recent notice of a dear friend learning that she has cancer and a colleague who suddenly lost her mother gives me pause. Many of you have experienced similar events either directly yourselves or in relation to family, friends, or colleagues. The more mature we come, the more often these reminders of life's fleetingness and human frailty occur. It as at these times that we may also encounter the power of community to help buoy us up to face the adversities of life.
One of my most memorable college teachers used to deliver a lecture entitled "the plow" to help us reflect on how we would respond to life's challenges. As the mule pulls the plow, it slices through the soil with forward momentum, leaving a clean, weed-free furrow behind. This represents our life when we feel we are making progress and all is going well. But, fields often have rocks laying hidden beneath the surface, and sometimes they are big and firmly planted. Some plows are built on a rigid frame, and when they hit such a rock, they often break, requiring substantial repair. Sometimes they are so broken they simply must be returned to the smelter. Technological advances produced a plow that would spring backward when it encountered the rock. The plow operator would need to stop and reset the heavy spring-loaded mechanism before proceeding. Some later tractor-driven models were similar, but they only needed the operator to stop and reverse the tractor in order to reset the blade. Later versions included an auto-reset feature that would trip the blade back when it hit the rock, but it would automatically reset; no stopping or reversing required.
The question left with us at the end of this talk was "what kind of plow are you"? How will you respond to the challenges that life brings you. We know that it is part of the human condition that we will face many challenges in our lives. We surely have some choice over how we will respond to these challenges and that we can likely build resiliency and capacity as individuals to help. But, what roles can the community play to help strengthen and build the networks of support necessary for individuals to be more resilient? What can we do collectively that individuals cannot do for themselves? Who are those in our communities that are not benefitting from what the community can provide them? Can a robust community that truly cares for and provides for all individuals expect reciprocity from those individuals who benefit? Can we, as community developers, truly help to create these kinds of communities or is this just too daunting a task?
As we all make preparations to gather at our annual conference in July in Lexington, Kentucky, I challenge you to consider how important it is that we, as community development practitioners, find our own community of interest to help support us in the daunting challenge of, each in our own way, helping to create communities that make a strong and lasting impact on the lives of individuals. Never has it been more important for all of us to have a strong network of friends and colleagues who are bound by a common interest in making this world a better place through making stronger, more resilient communities. We hope to see you there!
By Cindy Banyai
Did you know there is a Jobs Forum on the new Community Development Society website? It's one of the great new members-only features we've added. The forum is a way for hard working CD job seekers to better connect with opportunities that are aligned with their skill set. Here's how to access it:
- Login to the CDS website
- Scroll and and click "Forum" in the bulleted list under the login box
- Click the right index tag (although many of the most recently posted jobs will be right there in front of you on the landing page!!).
- Check out all the great jobs in Community Development
Hope that helps! Good luck!
By Dave Lamie
Compiled by Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University
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.
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!