What makes a community work and work well? How does this happen? These are interesting questions with interesting studies being done. These studies have looked inside communities both large and small to find out what is working and how we can create a community that is effective.
The Lyndhurst Foundation of Chattanooga Tennessee invited experts in the community development arena to come together to have conversations about community betterment. The National Civic League is concerned about “civic renewal” and describe civic infrastructure as a qualitative concept to evaluate the social and political fabric of a community. To summarize these thoughts, other organizations work and to go from our experience and knowledge, effective communities show these characteristics.
An effective community “leader-full”
An effective community will act and think like a community, with a high level of trust and tolerance. A sense of “we’re in this together”
An effective community will work for the residents. Everyone will feel as if they are peers and people of the community have a direct connection to the issues that are concerning.
An effective community has many citizens who understand and create workable processes – where partnerships and collaborations are plentiful.
An effective community will have processes in place:
Provide an environment for problem solving that is flexible and forgiving
Enable people to analyze and solve problems from multiple perspectives and creative solutions
Enable people to build consensus with an uneven balance of power
In an effective community there will be:
Identification of shared values
A steady focus on the common good – what is best for the community – not one sector
Creation of a shared vision
Create action toward that vision.
An effective community celebrates and appreciates.
Creating an effective community takes trust and collaboration, respect and creative thought. An effective community takes time to build, working hard to create the atmosphere of working together as a community.
We all have knowledge of the challenges that face our communities, especially if they have personal meaning for us. An effective community functions differently than the model we all know. According to David Mathews, President of the Kettering Foundation, an effective community sees itself as a whole and educates itself as a whole. There is a special kind of public information that goes beyond the facts. They have conversations about the issues which go beyond public opinions and public judgments while fostering and developing public leadership.
People in a community can make change happen if they feel empowered and feel they can make an impact.
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