Community Development Society

News and Information

Award Nominations Due February 14 - in a New EASIER Process!

The Awards & Recognition Committee is happy to announce a call for award nominations under a new and easier process for 2018! 

This is your opportunity to nominate peers, colleagues, students, and mentors to be recognized for their contributions to the community development field. Awards will be presented at the 2018 CDS Annual Conference in Detroit, MI on July 22-25.

The CDS Awards recognize new and experienced community development practitioners, researchers, students, and supporters as we celebrate the outstanding and innovative leaders in our field. Awards include honors for research, programming, achievement, service to the profession, and community development education.

The new process makes it easier for you to nominate someone with the key background information. Following the nomination period, the Committee will work with nominees to gather additional supporting documentation. Key dates in the new timeline are as follows:

February 14 - Nominations Due; all nominations received after the deadline will be automatically eligible in the next round of awards.

April 1 - Support Documentation due from Nominees

Early May - Winners Notified 

July 22-25 - Awards Presented at CDS 2018 Conference.

To submit your nomination(s), complete the online awards application form.

For more information on each award, visit

Please direct any questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We look forward to recognizing the great work happening in community development across the nation and the world!

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Call for Submissions on "RESILIENCE" - Special Edition of Community Development

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Agitator, Innovator, or Orchestrator of Change?

By  Dan Kahl, Kris Hains, & Aaron Goodman


The Community Development Society (CDS) Fellows met in November to discuss the idea of innovation in community change projects. Reflecting on the article, “Should You Agitate, Innovate, or Orchestrate?” by Battilana and Kimsey[1], the fellows discussed the roles each of us play in initiating change and when different roles may be more effective.  

Often community development organizations find it necessary to shift between the different roles, depending the on the circumstances and what is needed to accomplish the desired community change. “In reality, the boundaries between these roles may blur, with some individuals and organizations playing multiple roles either at once or sequentially. Far from being linear, the social change process may require that change makers switch back and forth among the three roles”[2].  Recognizing that each of us are simultaneously involved in multiple community groups, the fellows identified a community they currently work with. The Fellows represent a variety of community initiatives including: the development of a stronger community of student and young professional groups in CDS; Improving the CDS experience for international members; exploring better partnerships with other associations (communities of practice) like the International Society of Quality of Life Studies (ISQUOLS); bringing effective (community of place) coalitions together like the Detroit Urban Initiative; and working to bring together and promote new communities of interest like the Community Change Network initiative.

Reflecting on these differing contexts of community encourages us to consider how the needs of the group and situation can dictate the approach to community change. Does the situation require social agitation to raise awareness? Communities may need a loud voice to bring injustice to the public stage, or to raise awareness of the need for change.  Leadership of social agitation may push for change and “clear space” for important conversations.  For example, the role of an agitator may be necessary in order to make some poor, underrepresented neighborhoods have equal voice in certain urban settings.

On another hand, would the community benefit from the leadership of an innovator (or multiple innovators) to design active solutions? Often communities get stuck in indecision or helplessness. The role of innovator helps to identify and design action strategies for the community to move forward.  Innovative leadership is often the bridge to overcome existing barriers. The Fellows group working with International groups, for example, realizes that community development work around the world shares both differences and commonalities. Bringing people together through CDS to learn together and share ideas requires innovative strategies to bridge culture, time, language and assumptions about community.

Finally, when does an orchestrated approach to change best serve a community? Acting as an orchestrator of change is the role of planning and leading a change adoption strategy. The CDS Fellows team working to develop effective ways to partner between associations (the ISQOLS team) is an example of a broader change orchestration. ISQOLS represents a professional association focused on quality of life that is interested in creating expanded partnerships with CDS. But orchestrating a relationship between associations can be tricky. How does one orchestrate the change to share resources without losing individual identify or lose the “value proposition” to association members?

Recognizing that each of these roles for creating change serves different purposes, the CDS Fellows discussed examples and applications of each approach within the context of their situation and community. After much discussion, it was determined that similar to what happens when asserting effective leadership, the situation, context, shared goals, and needs of the participants ultimately should guide what type of role is most appropriate.  

So are you an agitator, innovation or orchestrator? What role do you take on within your community?

The CDS Fellows project is coordinated through the Community Innovation Lab at the University of Kentucky.

[1]Battilana, J., & Kimsey, M., Should you Agitate, Innovate, or Orchestrate? Stanford Social Innovation Review, September 18, 2017.

[2] Ibid.


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Call for papers for a proposed special issue in Community Development focused on Polarized Communities

Recently, we have witnessed increased polarization on many levels and in a variety of contexts (e.g., politics, class, race, religion, environment, energy). This special issue aims to move communities beyond binary polarization and discover the more nuanced subtleties hidden within the fog of polarization. We hope this spurs practitioners and researchers to explore innovative spaces for finding common ground within a continuum of polarization. We invite authors to submit manuscripts that portray illustrative cases of polarization, explore and share alternative methodologies, advance theory around the construct of polarization, provide a comprehensive literature review, or unveil historical perspectives that inform contemporary practice and research in the field of community development.

In addition, and more broadly, we always encourage submissions of comprehensive reviews of the literature focusing on contemporary questions that help inform our field. Manuscripts of this nature may be submitted for any issue, at any time.

Please contact us if you are interested in contributing to this special issue.
Manuscripts will be due by April 15, 2018.

Leanne M. Avery & John W. Sipple
Co-Editors, Community Development
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Free Webinar - December 8th: What does Intentional Communities got to do with Quality-of-Life?

FREE Webinar: December 8th! What does Intentional Communities got to do with Quality-of-Life? A talk connecting the dots between the human brain, happiness and how we choose to live together.

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Explore Detroit at #CommDev18

I am so excited that we will be meeting in my hometown of Detroit for #CommDev18! Detroit has been nothing short of a hotbed of innovation in community development and revitalization. Holding our annual international conference there will ebable us to learn and explore community development alongside our local counterparts -- engaging with urban agriculture, equity activists, and planners to see how people and neighborhoods in Detroit continue their renaissance. 

As Chair of the Conference Committee, I am happy to be leading the process of engaging membership and local stakeholders to make this conference a success. Our first round of proposals has closed and the Scholarly Activities Committee and other reviewers are hard at work vetting proposals to make sure we have the highest quality presentations for #CommDev18.

We recieved an amazing number of formal presentation and poster proposals, but also a trove of the newly concieved Roundtables, Think Tanks, and Birds of  Feather proposals. Be sure to check them out as the program takes shape early next year! For now though, you can check out the schedule at a glance here

You can still be actively involved in the conference by signing up to be a student volunteer or part of the new CDS Mentor Program (mentor, mentee). All student volunteers will be put into a drawing for a free stay at the conference hotel during the conference -- what a deal! All senior Society members are encourages to sign up to be mentors to students and newer members of our organization to help them connect during the conference and grow in their careers in community development. We need you!

We have some great Mobile Learning Workshops taking shape, including the Dequindre Cut Bike Tour, Henry Ford Museum, and more! We will be partnering with Visit Detroit to help coordinate some of these tours. Also, be sure to check them out to find out about other great things to do and see during your trip! 

This year, we are truly getting back to our roots by coordinating service events in our host city ahead of the conference. So, plan on getting in and getting to work on July 21 with one of our service project locations, including farmwork with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network or blight removal with Life Remodeled. More opportunities may become available, depending on interest, so stay tuned and be sure to sign up to serve when you register! 

There's so much more underway, -- including amazing keynotes, sponsors, events -- but I'll end here for now. Keep an eye on our website for more! Registration will be here soon!

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Community Development Data Viz - November 2017

Thanks for tuning in! This month's selection of interesting data visualizations focus on gender-based violence with a special look at transgender issues, and sexual harrassment. 

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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Social innovation - engaging people who are marginalized and those with privilege

Hi folks,

Warm greetings from Nova Scotia.

I’m doing some work with a social innovation initiative.  As part of the work, organizers are bringing residents in a neighbourhood together to form a roundtable, and also ‘alignment’ tables to work on addressing community priorities. Poverty and poverty-related issues and racism are primary concerns in this neighbourhood.  Residents are interested and engaged and are keen to be at the tables.  Most who have come forward have direct or first-voice experience with the relevant issues.  A small number of residents who have come forward are much more privileged, and do not have a personal experience of the big issues faced by most residents, and genuinely want to address the issues and improve the lives of all residents.  

I am looking for some case studies or articles or examples of effectively engaging the more privileged residents in addressing the issues faced directly by folks with less privilege.  Does anyone have any suggestions or tools re: models of ally-ship or solidarity or support?  Or …? I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Many thanks,


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Community Complications

By: Dan Kahl, Virginia Stanard, Kris Hains

In October, a team of community development practitioners discussed the vexing question, What are the building blocks of community? From professional community developers the answers came quickly. Community is a shared identity. Community is shared place, interests, or practice. Community can be shared religion, culture, values, or belief systems. Overall, the building blocks of community are the connections that unify or bind a group of people together, establishing collective agency.

As a community developer, our role is to help a group of people identify those common bonds and to build relationships of trust from which the group can act.

The role of the community developer is to be purposeful, assess what the group values, and to help the group identify and communicate these shared values. The community developer helps groups build on their strengths while mitigating their weaknesses.

This would have been a good place to stop the conversation. At this point, I think we all felt pretty good about our role and the importance of our work. In isolation, and as a process, community development processes seemed clear. But the complications of community development crept in. If community development is such straightforward work, why is it so difficult to practice, teach, and even describe? If you are invited to a community to do business development, does the establishment of shared values even enter the conversation? What happens when you are simultaneously involved with multiple communities and they compete for your time, attention, or even conflict in their values? It was mentioned that rarely are we asked to come do community development but rather to facilitate a process and connect people. In fact, in some places around the world, the term development has negative connotations. 

This is where we turn to you. As community developers, what are you learning that you can share? What does community mean to you? Join the conversation as we identify and test better ways to strengthen community:


The CDS Fellows program is conducted by Dan Kahl and Kris Hains through the Community Innovation Lab at the University of Kentucky.

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Community Development Data Viz - October 2017

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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Community Development Society - Leadership Transitions and Job Announcement

As many of you know, this past June our society had several leadership and leadership support transitions. We inducted a new officer team, new journal editors and several new board members. We also completed our contract with our business office of several years. While the synergy of the new team is extremely exciting, there have been several transitional and communicative hurdles to work through. I am pleased to say that our leadership team has navigated these hurdles with grace and elegance.

In the wake of the business office transition, we evaluated the current and future organizational support needs. This in-depth and insightful process allowed us to re-evaluate membership needs as well as officer and board member roles and responsibilities. This process culminated into a Managing Director position for the Community Development Society. This position will greatly enhance the society’s effectiveness and day to day operations. We highly encourage you to forward the position announcement to those who may be interested. We would like to hire someone as soon as November 1, 2017. Interested parties can contact V.P. Operations Dr. Craig Talmage at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Exciting things are happening and I am looking forward to working with our officers and board members as we meet for our annual board retreat in Detroit, MI. where we will be engaging in wonderful discussion and planning for our society as well as scoping out the location for our 2018 CDS Conference.


Bryan Hains

President, Community Development Society

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CDS Seeks New Managing Director (Part-Time, Paid Staff Position)

Community Development Society seeks qualified applicants to serve as Managing Director of our society. This is a part-time, paid position. Please forward on to interested parties. Information about the position and how to apply are available in the linked job description. Review of applications will start Friday, October 20th until the position is filled.

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We Need Your Help: Nominations and Leadership Committee

volunteer article header

Are you looking for an opportunity to shape the future of CDS? The Nominations and Leadership Committee is seeking new membership ahead of the upcoming elections for the Society. The current priorities of the committee are as follows:

  1. Recruitment of committee members – adding committee members will be necessary for outreach to potential nominees in the future and building a pipeline of interested members for leadership positions. The ideal composition of the committee will include students, scholars, and practitioners.

  2. Update the POG to reflect procedural changes – in practice, the election process has strayed from what is prescribed in the Society's Policies and Operational Guidelines. Once additional committee members are on board, the committee will review current guidance relevant to the nomination and election of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee Members. Any proposed changes will be submitted to the Executive Committee and full board for final recommendations and eventual approval.

  3. Mentorship – the committee will work with other Directors, Executive Committee members, and related committees to develop plans for critical mentorship opportunities in the Society. Establishing a more formal mentorship program could prove helpful to cultivate the future leaders of the Society and ideally make the slate of future candidates more robust.

If you are interested in serving on the Nominations and Leadership committee, and/or if you have additional questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. directly. Thanks for your consideration of helping with this important work!

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Strengthening Community by Design

In The Different Drum, M. Scott Peck asserts that community is often borne out of crisis, comes about by accident, or can be created by design. The implication is that we can wait for happenstance, or be purposeful in our efforts to foster the structure and relationships necessary for a thriving community. 

The Community Development Society is committed to investing resources in innovative ways to enhance the field of community development.  This year, the CDS Institutional Capacity Grant is focused on supporting the growth and involvement of CDS membership through the CIL Fellows program. Working through the University of Kentucky Community Innovation Lab (CIL), 21 participants are connecting monthly to learn from one another and support each other in community. The team is exploring innovative practices in community engagement and involvement, as applied to 5 key areas/groups:

  1. The Community Change Network
  2. The International Society for Quality of Life Studies
  3. CDS Student and Young Professionals
  4. International Community Development
  5. Community Development in Urban areas.

Our focus in each of these very different types of community is intended to lead to stronger networks, improved information sharing, and to test and document creative ways of strengthening community groups.  The success of our work, however, involves all of us. This initiative is not just about special interests, it is about discovering how each of us can be more purposeful in our community development. You can be a part of this initiative on the CDS website in the “CDS connect”.  We want you to join us. Sign in to to meet the fellows and join us in this year of learning!

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Call for Articles- IACD Practice Insights - Deadline Nov 1


IACD publishes its international ‘Practice Insights’ three times a year. Each deals with specific issues or aspects of practice that are relevant to our audience: community development practitioners, activists, researchers and policymakers. The publications draw from experiences across the world and aims to include materials from all seven IACD global regions. The main form of distribution is electronic, but IACD often produces a small print run of each for use at conferences and events.

IACD launched its first issue – on community development and anti-poverty strategies – in November 2012 ( ). It has so far published eight issues and the ninth issue is to be published in December 2017, with focus on North and South America. A special issue on Africa will be published in April 2018

Guidelines for contributors

Articles prepared in word format should be up to 1000 or 1500 words in length. These can be case studies, research findings, polemics or commentaries upon public policy as it impacts upon community development within a country or across the North and South American continents, including the Caribbean.

Articles should be in English without jargon (remembering that for many of our readers across the world English is a second language) and to set out the experience in ways which help readers to make links with their own practice.  The editors can assist here. Each submitted article will be reviewed to assess its suitability for publication.


We request all authors to attach graphics/photographs that help illustrate the article – and ensure that these are in high-resolution format, suitable for printing.

Submission deadline

Please send your article to Connie Loden This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than 1st November 2017. The Special Americas Issue will be published in January 2018. 

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Community Development Data Viz - September 2017

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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Community in Disaster

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Disasters have a unique way of bringing people together. I first got to experience this as a graduate student studying the concept of "gotong royong" in Indonesia. This "spirit of community helping" was in full swing in the area I was researching with, the villages in and around Jogykarta, while they were rebuiling after an earthquake that flattened homes and killed over 10,000 people in 2006. Hurricane Irma was not nearly as devastating, but it was the first time that I was the one responsible for taking care of my family and home in the face of disaster.

I ran. I ran because I could. I was lucky. I have a wonderful network of friends across the country that helped me and my family get out of the narrow galley of Florida and into safety without being stranded on the side of a highway without a place to stay or gas to get there. I was also able to help my friend and her family, which helped eased my concience for running when I knew others could not. This is not quite community, but priviliege and social capital in action to say the least.

We returned to a minimally damaged home and a city that looked like all the trees exploded. We were all lucky in Southwest Florida that the eye came in and the strength was weakened when it got to us. Storm surge was small and flooding was minimal in most areas, although places that were hard hit in heavy rains a few weeks earlier were again affected - mostly modestly priced areas that happen to be in flood plains (or purposfully, depending on how much control you think engineers have of watershed and drainage control in high-end gated golf communities). 

Then we took care of our house. Folks cleaned out the rotting food from the refrigerators (there had not been power for several days and hundreds of thousands across the state would go without for more than a week). We piled branches and debris in front of our house waiting for cleaning crews to take it away (and weigh it for FEMA). We sweltered in our hot homes, relieved the storm had passed, but worried about what to do next. 

During the aftermath, a beautiful thing happened - community came. Neighbors were outside their homes lending assistance in clearing trees and debris, offering cold drinks if they still had power, and equipment if they had it. Kids were off school (many buildings were damaged, many were without power, and others still had displaced people sheltering there) and many businesses were closed, so people pitched in to help. They served food at shelters or public places. They helped nonprofits clean up their grounds and make repairs. They searched by boat for people and animals stranded in high flood waters. When night came, neighbors gathered together to chat, sing, drink beer, and scheme on how to get power from the one working street lamp. 

I'm eternally grateful that Irma did not physically destroy my community beyond repair. I am also grateful to have witnessed this very special sense of community develop from this event. I'm hoping it's something we can continue to build. 

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CDS Members Can and Should Engage All Year Long

I can’t believe it has been three months since our conference in Big Sky! What an exciting event. It was great to see the fellowship and engagement among colleagues and friends within the field of Community Development. As part of the synergy, there were many initiatives and partnerships formed as well as great practices and research shared. Yet, as I reflect on the past few months, it seems the energy often wains after the conference. While this is normal in professional organizations, I still ask, “Why doesn’t the energy continue throughout the year?”

Friends, I am excited to tell you that it can. With the implementation and continued development of our current website, we can connect to work on new and existing projects, share best practices and relay exciting research findings, further enhancing our field. As stated last month, I have started a discussion pertaining to the proposed definition of Community Development. I encourage your insight and discussion regarding the discussion as it will only help strengthen our society. You can provide your comments by logging into the CDS website then click on the CDS Connect link.

I would also encourage you to join and provide your input in our CDS Groups. These are thematic groups that focus on community development practices and topics within specific contexts. You can chat with members from across the world about topics relevant to you and your community. Lastly, I ask, “Where is the future of Community Development?” I would love to hear your insight regarding our profession’s future.

Please log into and provide your input. This will help the synergy be year-round rather than seasonally. Also, please let us know if there are parts of the website that could be improved or enhanced.

All the best,


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From CDS Member Sheri Smith and the Texas Southern University community

Linked is a thank you note in response to colleagues who reached out to inquire about the well-being of staff and faculty at Texas Southern University as well to offer assistance.  Please share our appreciation for their concern in the manner most appropriate.


Sheri L. Smith, Ph.D., AICP
Interim Department Chair & Associate Professor
Urban Planning and Environmental Policy
Texas Southern University


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Exploring innovative ways to strengthen communities

Even though I have a graduate degree in leadership studies, I still struggle at times to understand leadership. Even though I have facilitated community development initiatives for nearly two decades, I still struggle at times with building the bonds to strengthen community. For me, knowing what to do, when, and how to do it still seems to require an equal part of skillful practice and magic. Community development work is filled with contradictory interests and can be an enigma. But who better to explore community development with than members of the Community Development Society?

This fall, CDS has selected a group of individuals to participate in an experiment. Working together, a group of participants in the 2017 CDS Institutional Capacity Development grant will be assisting each other in an exploration of what makes communities work. Through a shared exploration and peer mentoring, the participants are going to take on initiatives to improve aspects of communities or groups they are involved with. Throughout the process, we would like to invite YOU to teach us and learn with us as we tackle and explore the processes of community development.

We begin the conversation this month with the first meeting of the fellows and a discussion on “what IS community?” as we recognize that communities of place, interest, and practice may share elements in common while fulfilling different purposes. Watch the CDS blogsite, Vanguard, and Facebook for opportunities to participate in this applied learning experience! I hope you will come along for an enjoyable discussion and discovery!

This iniative is being led by Dan Kahl and Kris Hains working through the Community Innovation Lab at the University of Kentucky, Community and Leadership Development Department.

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