Community Development Society

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President's Update - Crossing the river by feeling the stones

Early in my career I spent time living and working in Taiwan, having initially studied international relations and eventually working as a teacher to gain cultural experience. One Chinese saying has stuck with me this whole time - "crossing the river by feeling the stones." This was the phrase used to describe relations between Taiwan and mainland China. The meaning is that no one really knows the future or how to plan for it, but that one needs to continue reaching out and adapting in order to make progress. This is where I feel we are together as a society. We are jubilantly celebrating our 50th year, but the landscape of our field and the composition of our organization has undergone dramatic shifts that make a path forward murky. 

As I noted in my last update, your board has been working to try to paddle together and we will be meeting for an intensive workshop and to tour the upcoming conference facilities in Columbia, Missouri October 6-7. Our workshop will focus on moving the organization toward Policy Based Governance, helping to craft clearer boundaries and expectations of board members, staff, and committees. If there are pressing issues or thoughts that you have about our organization, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or any member of our Board - we are here for you!

We will also be releasing an annual board meeting calendar - stay tuned! Members and committee members are always welcome to join and to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. proposals for the agenda and motions and issues. Reports, motions, and agenda items must be received no later than 5 days before the scheduled board meeting. We look forward to engaging you on this!

Another way we will be "crossing the river by feeling the stones" is to engage with our members through some online "townhall-style" discussions. To plan these, I am asking those of you interested in this to give us some guidance through this brief questionnaire. We will share more information on these as we plan them out - stay tuned!

Thanks again for all that you do and for being committed to our organization. I know we can cross this river together!

 

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President’s Update – Change is in the Air!

By Gisele Hamm

September is here once again and change is in the air. The day my youngest son’s junior year of high school started, even the temperature that day seemed to abruptly signify that summer had turned to fall. For those of us who work on a university campus, we’ve experienced a change in our environment as the campus transitioned from the quiet summer break to the start of another busy fall semester. 

During a phone call with long-time CDS member, Ron Hustedde this past week, we once again reflected on this year’s CDS conference in Lexington, and the change it represented.  The ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the CDS and IACD presidents signified new opportunities for the organizations to support community development globally in a collaborative manner. The activities, events and presentations, focused around the conference theme of “creativity and culture,” encouraged participants to “think outside the box” and explore all of the intriguing ways the world is changing around us. We even saw exciting change occurring with regard to the composition of the membership and leadership of the organization, with greater diversity and an increase in community development professionals under the age of 40. 

It was rather timely that this week I received a copy of the new book, Rural Communities: Legacy and Change, authored by CDS members, Cornelia Butler Flora, Jan L. Flora, and Stephen P. Gasteyer. While I have yet to begin reading it from cover to cover, I couldn’t resist skimming some of the chapters—and Chapter 12—Generating Community Change—was of particular interest, not only because of the change we are fostering in our “community” of community development professionals (CDS), but also because community change is the theme for the 2016 CDS conference.  The authors discuss the importance of two factors found in the major approaches to community development—planning and linkages to outside sources or strategic partnerships.  Last fall, the CDS board participated in a strategic planning process in which five core goals were identified to provide the organization with some direction for the next few years. The five goals included augmenting the Society’s recognition and reputation; improving operations and ensuring sustainability of the organization; enhancing and increasing the opportunities and resources provided to community development professionals; and expanding, diversifying, and engaging CDS membership. The importance of linkages or strategic partnerships to the organization is evident throughout the plan—strengthening relationships internally among members and externally with other organizations is essential. The creation of interest groups in which members can interact with other community development practitioners and researchers is one way CDS is working to enhance the experience for our membership. Our connections with IACD, NACDEP, and other community development organizations will continue to evolve and grow stronger in the next few years as we work to provide joint conferences and other engaging opportunities for our members. 

It is an exciting time to be a CDS member!

 

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Come home to CDS this summer

Come home to CDS this summer

By Dave Lamie

As Summer draws near, I hope that you are able to take some time to step away from your normal activities, spend quality time with family and friends, and recharge your enthusiasm for the certain challenges that lie ahead. One of the qualities that many community development professionals share is a certain confidence in the face of a challenge. I would go so far as to say that many even go out of their way to face these challenges, often head-on. If that is you, then be especially sure to spend the time you need to heal your recent battle wounds and restore your energy and enthusiasm for what lies ahead. If you are less inclined to risk, then perhaps this summer will be a time for you to consider what act of courage you will explore for the coming year.

Whether you need to heal and recover, or discover your act of courage, one of the best ways for you to do this is in the company of others faced with the same challenges. Further, one of the best places to find these others is at the annual CDS Conference, this year July 20-23 in Lexington, Kentucky. There you will be challenged, perhaps beyond your comfort zone. There you will find the healing balm you seek to restore your courage to face the challenges that lie ahead with confidence. There, you will gain new knowledge, reconnect with old friends, and find new ones amongst people who share many of your deepest values and professional interests. I doubt you will find this unique group of individuals anywhere else on the planet.

As I wind down my term as President, I am pleased to see CDS doing so well. Our membership is growing, our board is strong, we have a solid lineup of future Presidents, our conferences have been excellent and we have several more great ones in planning stages, and our financial house is in order. All of this did not happen overnight and it could only happen with so many of you stepping forward to play your part, putting service above self. Though the last three years as VP Operations, VP Program, and then President have seen their challenges, because of this great community we call CDS, we were able to face them with confidence.  

I wish you a safe and rewarding continuation of your Summer and  I look forward to seeing many of you in Lexington!   

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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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New president humbled, asks for your involvement

New president humbled, asks for your involvement
Dear CDS Community,
 
It was great to see so many of you in Dubuque where our local hosts did a superb job of demonstrating the value of collaboration and working across numerous boundaries to help us put on a great conference!  If you were not able to make this year's conference, then definitely make your plans now to attend next year's event in Lexington, Kentucky!  
 
Community Development Society conferences are nearly always a humbling experience for me.  Not because I am particularly shy, but because I often feel that my CD work is so inadequate when compared to all of the great things the CDS membership is doing and how clearly they demonstrate the CDS Principles of Good Practice.   It was right at 25 years ago that I participated in my first CDS conference.  Prior to that time, I knew nothing of the organization, but as a newly-hired Rural Development Extension Specialist, my mentors at Purdue thought it a good idea for me to go along with them to this meeting.  I will always owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me to find this organization and for encouraging me to get involved.
 
Over the past 25 years I have been able to contribute my small part to the body of CD work, and I now realize that for most, if not all, of us, that is sufficient.  In fact, the beauty of CDS is that it is an organization dedicated to acknowledging, celebrating, and nurturing each of our seemingly  insignificant efforts, allowing us to only really sense the significance of our work when we come together, as a community.  For many, this occurs at our annual conference.  For others, it happens when we collaborate on an article for our journal or participate together in committee work.  CDS is an organization for people who appreciate, dare I say "who are at least slightly addicted to", the idea of community.   
 
As we continue to move the organization forward I hope that you will consider ways that you might want to be involved.   There are numerous committees  that would really appreciate your sharing of time and talents.  You will definitely get more out of the experience than you invest.  
 
Gratefully,
 
 
Dave Lamie

 

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