Community Development Society

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President's Update - Plow through for community development

President's Update - Plow through for community development

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!

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Call for CDS Award Nominations

Each year we invite you to reflect on the outstanding accomplishments made in the field of community development as we issue the call for award nominations.  The Society may present up to nine awards annualy that recognize long-standing service to the organization, outstanding and innovative research, teaching and programs, and the students, new professionals, and friends that help ensure our pracitce endures.  

The full call for award nominations and nomination form is available here.  Nominations are due by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 15, 2015.  Award recepients will be honored formally during the annual Awards and Recognition Banquet that will take place during the Annual International Conference that will be held on July 19-22, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.  

Summaries of the awards presented by the Society are listed below. Please consider submitting a nomination to recognize the oustanding accomplishments of your colleagues and friends.

Duane L. Gibson Distinguished Service Award

Presented to a CDS member in recognition of superior and long-standing service to the field of community development, and, in particular, work for the advancement of the Society.  Current officers and Board members are not eligible for this award.

Ted K. Bradshaw Outstanding Research Award

Presented to a CDS member in recognition of a significant stream of superior research which exemplifies and positively impacts community development practice and represents a lasting contribution to the field. The award will recognize research which reflects the Principles of Good Practice throughout the research process. Only one Outstanding Research Award may be bestowed by the Society each year.

Community Development Achievement Award

Presented to a CDS member in recognition of his or her outstanding contribution to community development.  The person may be recognized for teaching, research, programming, administration or any combination of these roles.

Outstanding Program Award 

Presented to a CDS member or a group in recognition of completion of superior programming that exemplifies and positively influences community development practice.  The award will recognize a program that reflects the Principles of Good Practice throughout the implementation process.

Innovative Program Award

Presented to a CDS member or a group in recognition of a superior innovative program using the principles of good practice as adopted by the Society.

Donald W. Littrell New Professional Award

Presented to a CDS member in recognition of a superior contribution to the field of community development and the Society.

Current Research Award

Presented to a CDS member in recognition of a current research project(s) or product that represents an important contribution to the field of community development.

Student Recognition Award

Presented to a CDS member who is either an undergraduate or graduate student, in recognition of his or her contribution to community development through a paper, an article, a field project or internship, or other applied research.

Friend of Community Development Award

Presented to a person who is not a CDS member, but who has made a significant contribution to the field of community development.  This contribution could have been accomplished through his or her role as author, educator, administrator (public or private sector), community organizer, or elected or appointed official.

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Plans underway for 2015 Annual International Community Development Society Conference in Lexington, KY, July 19-22!

Plans underway for 2015 Annual International Community Development Society Conference in Lexington, KY, July 19-22!

By Gisele Hamm

Keynote Speaker, Michael Rios

One of the highlights of this year’s conference will be the engaging keynote speakers that will be joining us including Michael Rios. Michael is associate professor of urban design and chair of the Community Development Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis. Drawing from architecture, human geography, and urban planning, his research and writing focuses on marginality and the social practice of design, planning, and community development. Critical essays have appeared in The Informal American City: Beyond Taco Trucks and Day Labor, Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities, Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space, and Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. His co-edited book, Diálogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities, takes note of how Latinos are shaping the American landscape and considers how these changes both challenge and offer insight into placemaking practices in an increasingly multi-ethnic world. Michael is past president of the Association for Community Design and the inaugural director of the Hamer Center for Community Design. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from The Pennsylvania State University and Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

Fitting with our theme of Creativity and Culture, Michael’s keynote presentation will be “Negotiating the Place of Culture and the Culture of Place.” Unlike the problems of sprawl, environmental degradation, and climate change, there are no straightforward technical solutions to working more effectively with culturally diverse communities. In this plenary session, Michael Rios will discuss the difference that culture makes and how places can be viewed as sites of world-making through negotiations of belonging, authorship, and power to establish what groups can expect of one another. Negotiations are the basis for agreements and provide shared experiences that maintain relationships into the future. These “cultural contracts” measure the degree to which values and commitments are exchanged between groups—including professionals and the publics they purport to serve. Implications for community development include greater attention to cross-cultural practices between individuals and among different social groups to determine why place matters, for whom, and with what results.

Conference Abstract Submissions

If you have not yet submitted your abstract for a presentation at the CDS conference, there’s still time! The deadline for conference abstracts is Saturday, January 31, 2015. Instructions on submitting an abstract is available here: CDS Call for Abstracts Instructions. The online submission form can be accessed here: CDS Online Abstract Submission Form.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Proposals are being accepted through Sunday, February 15, 2015 for pre-conference workshops. CDS currently has space to accommodate a limited number of pre-conference workshops to be held on Sunday, July 19th in conjunction with the Annual Conference.   More information can be found here:  CDS Pre-Conference Workshop Proposals.

Please join us in Lexington in July as we celebrate Creativity and Culture in Community Development!

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