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Full Posts:

Working Through the Community

Post:

21

Date:

Dec 22, 2000

From:

Carlos Manjarrez


Kit Collins (and other DD Listserv readers),

The planning process I mentioned needn't be led by outsiders. Indeed, I wouldn't consider it much of a community planning process if it were - hence my point about not identifying leadership a priori and the comment about looking for intermediaries to "grow out of a broadly inclusive planning process".

On the issue of Asset Mapping... I believe this suggestion is consistent with the point I raised below, "good planning efforts require [good] information". However, I would insert a word of caution because I have participated in too many Asset Mapping projects that have lacked focus and clarity - some of which were in John McKnight's classes. I have found Asset Mapping to be most useful when you know what you intend to do with the information at the end of the exercise. If Ms. Collins' proposal is that we map those resources considered relevant for the effective execution of the strategies outlined in the [draft copy of the] Access to Outcomes report then again, I am in broad agreement.

On a third, perhaps unrelated point. I have to take issue with the way we have been characterizing resource poor communities in this discussion. People have asserted that these communities are generally "fragile", lacking leadership, with intermediary organizations that are "often ineffective", and places where residents have "low self esteem" and are "unable focus on abstract thinking". I don't object to these statements because I think they are untrue - except for maybe the last one. I object to them because they do little for the argument. We know poor communities are fragile and we know that SOME local agencies are ineffective (I am picking on these two because they are in the report), but what does that mean when it comes to identifying and "working within community's capacity" (premise #3) or how does this help (or hinder) the capacity building efforts we hope to undertake (premise #4)? These are the hard questions that follow. Maybe it is outside of the scope of this report but I think it an important exercise to think more concretely about the specific community assets that articulate with the objectives you hope to achieve, recognizing that these may vary substantially from place to place.

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