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Jane's Jottings – June 2020 Notes from the CDS Board Chair

Gearing Up for the Next CDS Year: 2020-2021

We look ahead to next month, when we should be all gathering in Fargo, North Dakota, USA, for our annual conference, and we grieve that we will not be together and meet face-to-face. I grieve for all we have lost personally and professionally this year and for the insights gained, too, from COVID quarantines and from a community, country, and world awakening to long-held racial injustices.

Our conference theme this year was prescient: "Global Challenges, Local Resilience". It was to have centered on the climate crisis, refugee migration, workforce and trade disruption, and other challenges. And indeed, we add to these complex and interrelated challenges with COVID-19 exposing long-held gaps in our health care systems and the non-readiness of national/local responses, particularly in revealing racial and income differentials. Race-based disparities and inequities across community and economic opportunity are now further exposed by the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA, which happened about 4 miles from my home.

We must erase prejudice and bias, and better understand the corrosive effects of privilege. We can start in our own CDS Principles of Good Practice. It’s one of the necessary conversations we will have at the annual CDS business meeting, virtually brought to you on Tuesday, July 14, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Central Time (USA). See announcement in this Vanguard and watch for details in early July on linking in to the meeting and obtaining meeting materials.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS!

We welcome new board members at the annual business meeting, too: Cornel Hart (Vice Chair-elect of Operations), Bob Bertsch (Treasurer-elect), Lisa Gilchrist (board member-elect), and Dilip Patil (board member-elect).

Many thanks to Margaret Stout and MaryAm Ahmadian for their faithful service as board members over the past several years. They rotate off the board in July; so do I as Chair! Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to provide leadership for CDS!

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COVID-19: Could it Unite Us as a Global Community?

COVID-19: Could it Unite Us as a Global Community?

 

The new ‘normal’ as the start of the ‘great turning’ for transformative justice, social change, equity, and sustainable communities.

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love."    ~ Rumi

When I agreed to write a post with an international theme for the Vanguard issue, I had no idea that it would be in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic – a virus attack which, in one way or another, is uniting us as a Global Community. Dealing with it asks us all for innovative thinking, ideas and approaches on the meaning and purpose of Community Development Practice (CDP), and on our roles and responsibilities as Community Development Practitioners (CDPs).

COVID-19 is challenging all of us in our commitment to each and every one of the principles for which we stand, both as practitioners and as members of a family, community, society and nation. Each one of us now in our social isolation has had, however reluctantly, to realize our vulnerability – not just as a citizen, family, and community member, but also as a species. Many of us were at first positively hopeful that this pandemic would soon pass, and that everything would go back to normal again. Now we are realizing that it is not passing quickly, and that it is increasingly likely that nothing will ever be quite the same again. The new ‘normal’ will differ from the ‘normal’ we thought we knew.

Global pandemics such as COVID-19 re-emphasize the importance of CDPs, the need for our profession, and the role that we play in ensuring community well-being. Going forward in the aftermath of COVID-19, with resources diminished from fighting it, we will need to be more vigilant and innovative in rebuilding communities. We will be working from a micro level of well-being for our families, friends, and neighbors, through our communities, to the macro level well-being of our state sustainability. Although pandemics threaten our very existence, they also provide us with opportunities to ‘reset and turn’ our current way of life into a better one. It is at this turning point that CDPs are needed more than ever before. We will be called upon to guide communities in innovative ways towards rebuilding new sustainable, equitable and inclusive communities in our global society.

This rebuilding of community and society will require CDPs to revisit the works of scholar-activists such as David Korten, Johanna Macy, and Grace Lee Boggs. As early as the 2000s they put forward a much needed ‘great turning’. This ‘turning’ would shift us from our current times of being an economic growth ‘extractivist society’ to a society that is in balance and self-sustaining in every dimension of well-being: socio-cultural, physical, infrastructural, environmental, political, and economical. These scholarly foresights, more than fifteen years ago, emanated from the term ‘earth community’ described in the International Earth Charter of 2000. This charter consists of sixteen principles, clustered in four interrelated pillars derived from an ethical vision that proposes peace, environmental protection, human rights, and equitable human development.

One of the founding pieces of ‘turning’ literature is “The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community” by David Korten (2006). The unequal distribution of power and social benefits that goes back as far as 5 000 years is highlighted. The development of empires, political and social, continues to this day. Korten (2006) warns us of being “on the verge of a perfect storm of converging crises”, and that to avoid it will require major changes to our current economic and social structures.

Who would have thought that COVID-19 could so quickly ‘trigger’ this realization? Who could have anticipated that we as CDPs would be given the opportunity to work with communities to start the ‘great turning’ (transformation) from an ‘industrial growth society’ to a ‘self-sustaining civilization’?

Every one of us has been presented with an opportunity to relook at, and rework, our CDP approach towards making a difference and contributing towards a better life for society. Many resources and scholarly works are available to assist us with re-imaging our ‘new’ future of ‘turning’ towards achieving an Earth Community of well-being. Perhaps a good place to start will be with the founding authors of the ‘turning’: David Korten, Johanna Macy, and Grace Lee Boggs. They led the way to many more publications by other proponents of transformative justice, social change, equity and self-sustaining communities in a harmony of societies.

How are we going to take up this unforeseen opportunity to do things differently in the new ‘normal’ of CDP tomorrow?

Below are some useful links to material by the founding authors mentioned in this blog:

https://davidkorten.org/library/;

https://www.joannamacy.net/main#books;

https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5323/fire.2.1.0060#metadata_info_tab_contents

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Jane's Jottings - May 2020 Notes from the CDS Board Chair

CDS Elections 

I hope everyone is doing alright in the midst of COVID-19. CDS is in the midst of the annual elections (electronically) for the CDS Board of Directors. I would encourage and advise you to cast your ballots soon, as the election closes on May 29. Your CDS membership must be up-to-date to be able to vote (meaning you have paid your annual dues). If you haven't received a ballot by email, please let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and we will check the membership rolls.

We have a good crew of candidates! Please read their responses to the candidate questions, make your selections, and support them with your vote!

Annual Business Meeting

And along those election lines, new board members will take office immediately after the annual business meeting, which will be held online this summer now that our annual conference has been postponed until July of 2021.

The business meeting would have been held on July 14 had the Fargo conference been able to be held this year. So stay tuned for the new date/time/and instructions for joining into the Annual Business Meeting, once we figure out the method to host over 200 members on Zoom or Go-To Meeting or via semaphores (ha-ha), and that we can ensure that all voting attendees are bonafide members. The general public is also welcome to attend but cannot cast votes on CDS business.

Okay, enough of the business of CDS. My CDS friends, I hope you are doing well, and taking care of one another. I'm always available for ideas, concerns, and/or a welcome chat!

--Jane Leonard, CDS Chair 2019-2020

 

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Jane's Jottings - April 2020 Notes from the CDS Board Chair

Out of COVID-19: More Equitable & Shared Growth - A More Just Society

by Jane Leonard, CDS Board Chair 2019-2020

In this month’s Vanguard edition, our editor, Lisa Gilchrist, highlights “inequity” – in particular how the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly and deeply exposing inequalities in economic and social systems across the world and closer to home for each of us. Thank you, Lisa, for providing insights, news links, and resources on this evolving dynamic we all share.

The inequity reality commands my attention, having worked for the last two years with a diverse network of Minnesotans and organizations to research and create Minnesota Equity Blueprint - Thriving By Design - Rural & Urban Together - a 170-page compendium of 141 recommendations that chronicle regional and community best practices and inspiring efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota (it’s available for a free download at https://growthandjustice.org/publication/Blueprint-online-F.pdf if you’d like some decent reading material in our Stay-At-Home times). We started the effort well before COVID-19 knowing that hidden behind the façade of extraordinary economic growth here in the United States and in my home state are great disparities by region, race, and economic class.

Inequities get (and deserve) even harsher spotlight as numerous articles in state and national media have documented the pandemic’s devastating impact on already fragile low-wage workers who are losing both their jobs and private health-care coverage.   Here in the U.S. impacts are acute also on working women and mothers, on hard-working immigrant communities, on the homeless and on low-income seniors, and on the estimated one-third of American households that even before the outbreak were employed but just one paycheck away from economic calamity.

A New York Times special commentary on April 10, “America Will Struggle After Coronavirus. These Charts Show Why”, reviewed the underlying basic facts and trends of four decades of growing economic and racial inequality. Their series on “The America We Need” describes how we can emerge from this crisis stronger, fairer and more free.

In Minnesota, many of our most underpaid and economically insecure are emerging as the front-line heroes and most essential workers in the coronavirus fight. They are grocery store employees, child-care providers, service workers and delivery people, personal care attendants and nursing home employees, and more.   This extraordinary crisis exposes the severe imbalance and inequities in their compensation as opposed to people in the top half of the income hierarchy.

COVID can be our crucible of long-term change for the better, if we choose. We can build out of this travail an improved socioeconomic contract with one another, for more inclusive and equitable growth and a more just society, so that all of us have the tools, the opportunities, and the fair compensation to thrive together and to weather oncoming adversity, including climate change.

We in the community development field have the tools, resources, and experience that such a massive community healing and rebuilding effort requires. Jump in and help where you can. And please share your ideas and actions on community equity strategies in the face of COVID-19 and beyond. We’ll publish more links and resources in the May Vanguard (please send your examples to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Take care out there!

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Jane's Jottings - March 2020 Notes from the CDS Board Chair

Community Development & COVID-19; July Annual Conference Still Planned

Dear CDS Members:

All over the world as we confront the realities of COVID-19, we find ourselves in an amazing paradox: an uncertain time of self-imposed isolation and social distancing and yet also one of tremendous community spirit. Truly together as one united world community, we seek "to flatten the curve"  of the virus's scope and speed, especially to help those persons in the higher risk categories. 

It's a case study in rapid crisis-induced community development unfolding right in front of our faces (which we cannot touch ;-)

In that spirit, and in these times, I direct your attention to the reporting in the March Vanguard from our 2020 Annual Conference Local Host Committee colleagues in Fargo, North Dakota, USA. At this time, we are NOT pulling the plug on the July annual gathering. Conference registration is open, as are the lodging reservations.

We are closely monitoring local, state and federal updates as to COVID-19 mitgation efforts and advice. The Local Host Team is in regular contact with the host hotel (The Radisson) and the dorm lodging folks as well.

We will keep everyone posted. Check the conference FAQs and website for updates, as well as updates directly to CDS members that would land in your email boxes.

Please note that the conference registration cancellation policy allows for full refunds of the conference registration fee before June 26, and the lodging reservations at discounted rates do not close until June 11. So we still have time to wait the virus out.

If all of us do our part wherever we live, to "flatten the curve" on COVID-19 over the next two months, we anticipate that July in Fargo will see the 52nd CDS Annual International Conference happening as scheduled, July 12-15. We're optimistic, and we are realistic. Stay tuned.

Be well, stay well!

--Jane Leonard, CDS Board Chair 2019-2020

 

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