Join Us. Where it all started. 1969. Turmoil, seismic change. Response: Community – Development - Society.

Sound familiar? It’s now 2019 - Back to the future!

The 50th anniversary of the international Community Development Society (CDS) is a golden opportunity to express and explore the extreme relevance and responsibility of the community development field and CDS to be proactive change agents, to help create conditions for and help foster shared and welcoming communities, and to cultivate a future in which community is the pathway through rising chaos and insularity across our world.

It’s a chance for CDS members, and for any and all colleagues, to remember and re-embrace the ideals with which our founders also struggled, to articulate what was happening and what they could do to help amidst the chaotic change of the 1960s. The chaos then compelled them to join forces and form an association of people who believed in the pathway of community to help channel destructive anger into constructive, collaborative, and inclusive citizen-led community-building.

In fact, our founding leaders* made clear that community development is “a radical profession….based on the belief that people can give purposeful direction to their collective future. How this occurs is based on the community, the issues, the current capacity of people and the resource base that is present…Community development is gaining knowledge and empowerment through a process of collaboration and action.” (Practicing Community Development, Donald W. and Doris P. Littrell, University of Missouri Extension, 2006)

The theme for our 50th anniversary program calls upon on our own skills to reflect, collaborate, and then act to plant the seeds for our next 25 years, to cultivate our future, as CDS members, as community development researchers, scholars, practitioners, and, perhaps most importantly as ambassadors of CD in the many communities, organizations, and institutions in which we participate -- in life and in work. “Cultivating the Future” evokes an invitation for and creativity in research, practice, policy, and theory to be shared in 2019 that offer a glimpse of the next 25 years for community development research and practice. We also seek proposals that showcase what we’ve learned in the past 50 years that still inform our work now, and also what’s ahead in the way of tools, insights, processes, challenges and opportunities. For example, 25 years ago, the Internet was barely on the horizon. Now it’s totally changed how we process information, do business, and relate to one another (or not) within communities and across the world.

How do we hold onto our essential and long-standing roots – our guiding principles noted below -- to weather the storms of current day? What, why, and how do we research, teach, guide, and champion positive change for communities -- to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion as essential, intentional seedlings necessary to be able to nurture and grow to maturity the sustainable community, economic, and environmental vitality we seek for all, amidst the tumults of 21st century geopolitical life?

Much is the same as 50 years ago: waves of radical action and radical grace in the face of community and world-wide disruptions. Much has changed. We are more fragmented even as we are more widely and thinly connected. Community is fragile, beloved, and yearned. How can we help cultivate a future seeking and needing community to thrive?

Jane Leonard, 2019 CDS Conference Program Chair.

*Founding leaders who conceived and birthed the Community Development Society in 1969 included:

  • George S. Abshier / Oklahoma State University
  • Robert C. Anderson / Michigan State University
  • A. E. Benson / University of Missouri
  • Lee J. Cary / University of Missouri
  • Robert C. Child / Southern Illinois University
  • John O. Dunbar / Purdue University
  • Duane L. Gibson / Michigan State University
  • Otto G Hoiberg / University of Nebraska
  • E. Frederick List / University of Missouri
  • Paul A. Lutz / University of Missouri
  • Robert J. McGill / University of Missouri
  • Earl F. Pettyjohn / Federal Extension Office
  • Bryan M. Phifer / University of Missouri
  • C. Brice Ratchford / University of Missouri
  • Daniel J. Schler / University of Colorado
  • William F. Swegle / Kansas State University
  • L. Keith Wilson / University of Utah

Principles of Good Practice

As a part of the CDS beliefs, the organization follows the core Principles of Good Practice:

  • Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members
    to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives.
  • Engage community members in learning about and understanding community issues,
    and the economic, social, environmental, political, psychological, and other impacts
    associated with alternative courses of action.
  • Incorporate the diverse interests and cultures of the community in the community
    development process; and disengage from support of any effort that is likely to
    adversely affect the disadvantaged members of a community.
  • Work actively to enhance the leadership capacity of community members, leaders,
    and groups within the community.
  • Be open to using the full range of action strategies to work toward the long-term
    sustainability and well being of the community.
195 Published: Friday, 15 March 2019 04:24