Who Is a Community Developer
by Gariba samuel
(Ghana, Kumaasi @KNUST)
Site Visitor Asks These Questions:
1. what is community
2. development means what in community
3. what is community planning
4. U.N definition for community development
5. can an individual belong to more than one communities
6. who is a community developer
7. what is the important of community
8. enlist the functions of community
Editors Reply: Thank you for your many good and profound questions. We could write a book about each of your questions! So we decided to concentrate on one interesting question: who is a community developer. We will touch very briefly on each of the others.
1. What is community? Briefly, we concentrate on geographic communities, which might be as small as a village and as large as a small nation. But also there are abstract communities, based on common interests and a feeling of having a common bond. For example, you might be a "member" of the community of animal lovers, which might be worldwide, does not have geographic proximity as its criteria, and may never meet one another, but which shares a common interest and perhaps a common value system.
2. What is development? This word has become so common as to be almost meaningless. In Africa, where you are, and other parts of the world, development for a time meant economic development to bring peoples of the world into a more equitable and comparable economic status. But we would prefer to say that development is growth in people's ability to interact and collaborate for a better common future. Where people do not have basic needs for safety, food, clean water, and shelter met, obviously those needs take priority because then higher-level needs such as universal education become possible.
3. What is community planning? See our page at www.useful-community-development.org/community-planning-process.html for a basic response that you can and should adapt to fit your local culture and government.
4. United Nations definition of community development. The often-repeated one (although the UN and its arms issue many, many reports, which often rephrase things) is a process by which people come together to take action together to tackle common problems. We certainly agree that community development should be regarded as a process that deals with local issues.
5. Can an individual belong to more than one community? Yes, both because you can regard geographies as very small or very large, and because you can belong to many abstract communities, such as the community of animal lovers we talked about earlier.
7. What is the importance of community? Community allows people to take actions together that would be impossible for one person to achieve by himself or herself.
8. List the functions of community. Briefly, community makes people feel safer and makes them feel like they are part of something larger than themselves--both of which meet important psychological and spiritual needs.
Secondly, community allows people to impact problems around them that they could not manage or affect otherwise.
Now to the interesting question, 6. Who is a community developer? Our answer is that ideally everyone is a community developer!
Each person has the potential to help people come together, find common ground, and take common action. Some people have particular training in being a community developer though, so those skills may include community organizing, community analysis, community planning, facilitating discussions, mediating conflicts, and then myriad specific subject matter knowledge, such as public health, educational policy and organization, transportation planning, promotion of economic development, communication systems planning, humanitarian and social service planning and organization, and the like.
For young people who would like to be community developers, we recommend a combination of training in (1) the generic but highly important soft skills of listening, organizing people, developing systems, and creating and evaluating programs, and (2) the specific subject matter that will be relevant to community development work in the person's chosen location.
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So each of you reading this already is a community developer in some respect, but for those who wish to be professional community developers, we observe that there is no more rewarding profession.
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