Community Development Society

News and Information

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!

1671 Hits

President's Update - Evolution of CDS

President's Update - Evolution of CDS

By Dave Lamie

I hope that the New Year finds you healthy, energized, and excited about what life is bringing you. As we witness with horror the brutality that our species is capable of inflicting upon one another, it is easy to become confused and bewildered.  Our old ways of thinking about things may not work as well as they did in our youth.  We turn to the sages of our history for insight and understanding, yet they do not seem to speak to us as they did before. Yet, we fear that if we abandon wholesale our beliefs we might jettison something essential, even sacred. So, we spend time sorting through it all, carefully putting those things that we still value in their place, discarding that which does not seem to work for us.  
As community development professionals we should consider a similar sorting process. We should use our evaluation results to help us craft better programs and interventions.  We should take stock of the way we currently do things and consider if there are not better, more effective, or more efficient ways of doing things.  And, we should probably go about examining our underlying value statements to deliberate on just how important they are to us and whether or not they should be modified to better reflect current realities.  This process might even lead us to new paradigms and patterns of thinking about things that simply work better.  
It is in this spirit that I propose that we undertake a process of revisiting, reviewing, and possibly revising our most sacred statements: The CDS Principles of Good Practice.  Over the next few months I hope to engage a selection of CDS members to help us in this review process. I want to be sure we include some of our newest members as well as some long-standing ones.  We need to have confidence that these statements speak as clearly to CD professionals today as they did when they were first adopted.  
At the end of the day, we might wind up with exactly the same thing we started with…and that is perfectly acceptable. Or, some completely new, completely relevant statements might be developed. Don't worry, we won't officially change anything without properly involving the CDS membership. Your involvement in the evolution of the Society is of vital importance.
1797 Hits
Powered by EasyBlog for Joomla!