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    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?” ( Battilana, J., & Kimsey, M., Should you Agitate, Innovate, or Orchestrate? Stanford Social Innovation Review, September 18, 2017. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/should_you_agitate_innovate_or_orchestrate ) the fellows discussed the roles each of us play in initiating change and when different roles may be more effective.
    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.
    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. 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.
    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. It was determined that, like 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, innovator or orchestrator? What role do you take on within your community? Please post your reactions and thoughts!
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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?
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