Community Development Data Viz - April 2015

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Migration network analysis

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Carbon dioxide consumption in honor of Earth Day on April 22

 

schools local food

 

School districts using local foods

 

 

snap falls

 

Food assistance costs falling

 

wetlands

High cost of wetland restoration

 

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Percentage on WIC support

Looking for a career in community development?

By Cindy Banyai

Lots of members of the Community Development Society have eagerly been sharing job listings with organizations they know in the hopes of bringing high quality and motivated people into the field. Below are some of the most recent opening. 

Local Government Specialist - UW Extension, Deadline May 18
Community, Natural Resource And Economic Development Agent - UW Extension, Deadline May 12
 
Community Development ProfessionalFederal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Moving Beyond the Silos in Community Development

By Chris Marko, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), Community Development Society (CDS) Vice President of Operations

“The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist on this small planet. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue.”

 - The Dalai Lama

As Community Developers we understand connections between programs, within communities, the environment. That is one of the fundamental reasons we call ourselves “community developers”. We do not focus on one issue, one program, and try to promote inclusive behavior to solve problems. Still, in our professions and lives we often face the challenge of limits, the need to exclude a particular issue from the dialogue or activity, the focus on a program deliverable for measurable outcomes. How do we balance the multiple values associated with community while maintaining focus on particular facets within community, our work, programs, and issues? CDS Principles of Good Practice can help overcome barriers within communities, programs, and issues to promote greater value in our work.

Listening to be inclusive is an important best practice that helps in community development work I work with small communities on water and wastewater projects. Rural communities often have limited staff, knowledge of programs, funding, and capacity to take on projects. In small towns folks tend to be individualistic, and at the same time, cooperative. Life is at a different pace than larger cities and work involves conversations about many things. It is not common for me to spend a significant amount of time listening and talking about the on goings within the community, stories about certain individuals, what is going on at the state level, how rural communities are left out of the equation. Still, my overall purpose is to help with the water project, but there is much more to the community than just the water project. By embracing the conversation, I am able to build trust, better understand people in the community, what is going on, and how to approach my work.  In addition, I learn about other needs and opportunities to assist the community. Even if I do not have the expertise, I try to find information, resources, and people who might be able to help. This is also another important aspect of being a community developer.

Knowing your program, expertise, or “niche” is important in being an effective community developer. At the same time, knowing as much about other programs and resources is important in providing valuable service to communities. Communities do not operate in a vacuum. They are dynamic, changing, sometimes daily, and programs are becoming more complex. It is rare a project is funded under one source so as community developers we must broaden our understanding of what is available to help communities achieve their goals. A benefit to this involves helping a community to think creatively about how they develop a project. What are some additional benefits a project may have to the community beyond water? Impact on other values. The community capitals framework, as well as other approaches including WealthWorks, promotes an understanding of values: intellectual, social, individual, environmental, built, political, and financial (and cultural depending on the model). By viewing the community in more holistic manner one can consider the potential impact on multiple values, and leverage additional resources one might not have considered with an initial project.

Collaboration is key to moving beyond silos in community development. In recent years funding for programs were cut at the federal, state, and local levels. Many folks lost their jobs, and agencies and organizations were forced to retreat into silos for survival. Keeping current services going became a priority, and many services discontinued. Collaboration and long range thinking became less important than day to day internal operations for many organizations to ensure accountability with programs, deliverables, and specific outcomes related to individual programs to show value to funders. During tough times our tendency may be to retract, but collaboration and partnership building can also have the benefit of opening doors to opportunities. In our modern world of information technology, complexity, and social media, networking is becoming more of the norm. Networks offer opportunities for learning, relationship building, and connectedness essential for communities, and community development. Part of the challenge becomes sorting through which information is most useful, or relevant, to goals you are trying to achieve! As our world continues to evolve through technology and understanding of connectedness we can find a wealth of opportunity at our finger tips, and by collaborating with others who align with our interests.  In community development, that interest involves expanding horizons to support community with dynamic, connected, mutually supportive people. CDS continues to foster best practices involving open inclusive behavior, understanding connections between people, programs, and issues, and collaboration for quality communities.  

President's Update - Getting a Pulse on Our Profession

By Dave Lamie
 
Over the past several months I have been formulating a set of questions, or perhaps hypotheses, that I do not think can be answered fully without some serious effort to collect and evaluate data and synthesize the results. You see, as President of CDS, I can say something about the "State of the Society". I can say something about the organizations's fiscal health, our membership, and our ability to produce measurable outcomes like the Vanguard, the Journal, CD Practice, and our annual conference. I can read committee reports to learn about the depth and breadth of involvement of the membership in the life of the organization. I can observe who is willing to serve in leadership roles through the slate of officers we put forward.  And, I can even see how many of you actually vote!
However, when I step back from the organization and begin to contemplate the well-being of the overall field of community development, I am not sure I can even fully visualize what should be measured, let alone have any confidence that I can easily lay my hands on appropriate data that will provide conclusive answers, or even good insights. In an age where I can strap a device on my wrist that will tell me fairly objectively how my body is performing, I find this troubling. You see, no single organization that I know of has taken it upon themselves to provide a "State of the Profession" report.  
I can imagine having a community development "dash board" where the key indicators of well-being of the profession could be displayed both instantaneously and historically. If well-conceived and appropriately executed, such information could find a multitude of uses. Organizations like CDS could use it to make strategic decisions about how to best serve the profession.  Students and student mentors could use it to help guide professional development activities.  Service providers could use it to better design interventions or to target new audiences.  Thought leaders and academics could use it to help re-direct the profession if they thought it important to do so. I'm just touching the tip of the iceberg, but already I think many will agree with me that having such information would be quite helpful.
Some of these thoughts are coming to me because I've heard some from within my own professional setting as a Land Grant University Professor and Extension Specialist that CD Extension programs are growing in many regions of the country, but shrinking in other regions. In many states in the Southeast (mine included),  CD Extension programs are finding success in areas like local food system development where there are pretty strong ties to agricultural community and to the agriculture lobby --- within our administrators comfort zone. This is occurring while CD programs in other subject matter areas are seeing a diminishing role. The key thing is that we are bringing our knowledge and skills in community development into this domain. I am confident that many of you working in other professional settings are carrying on similar conversations about the future of the profession. 
Over the course of the next few years, CDS will be likely be collaborating with other organizations in new ways, especially with the conference. This should present opportunities for us to learn more about what the future of the profession holds in store for all of us. Perhaps we ought to even consider encouraging some of our CD thought leaders and academics --- both young and less young --- to take on the task of reflecting on the question of "community development as a profession?" and sharing the results of their thinking with all of us at a conference or through journal articles. In the meantime, I encourage all to plan to register for the conference this year in Lexington, Kentucky where we can gather and at least informally begin to assess the state of our profession.  By doing so, you will be contributing to the vitality of CDS as well as influencing, at least in some small way, the vitality of the larger profession.
Oh, Happy Spring!

Community Development Data Viz - March 2015

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!

Community Development Data Viz - January 2015

Member Benefits - Job Forum

By Cindy Banyai

Did you know there is a Jobs Forum on the new Community Development Society website? It's one of the great new members-only features we've added. The forum is a way for hard working CD job seekers to better connect with opportunities that are aligned with their skill set. Here's how to access it:

  1. Login to the CDS website
  2. Scroll and and click "Forum" in the bulleted list under the login box
  3. Click the right index tag (although many of the most recently posted jobs will be right there in front of you on the landing page!!).
  4. Check out all the great jobs in Community Development

Hope that helps! Good luck!

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.

Community Development Data Viz- November 2014

ALR Infographic Communities June2012

 

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