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Community Building: Coming of Age

This report, by the Development Training Institute (DTI) and The Urban Institute, explains the practice of community building and discusses how it might best be supported. After giving an overview of community building’s historical context and examining notable early community-based initiatives, the authors offers six recommendations to an emerging field:

  1. A national campaign to further new community building is warranted. The broad group of nongovernmental and governmental institutions already involved in the field should expand their efforts and find new ways to collaborate so that such a campaign can be mounted.
  2. Local governments should reorient their programs and operating style to make partnerships with community builders central to their agendas.
  3. A high priority should be given to establishing (or strengthening) nongovernmental, locally based intermediaries to support community building and community interest in all metropolitan areas.
  4. National supporters should work to substantially strengthen training and technical assistance capacity for community building, and build public awareness of its importance.
  5. Federal and state governments should play a strong role as supporting partners in this initiative.
  6. All supporters should find ways to nurture community building in individual neighborhoods, and avoid overwhelming it.

The authors state: “Probably the feature that most starkly contrasts community building with approaches to poverty alleviation that have been typical in America over the past half-century is that its primary aim is not simply giving more money, services or other material benefits to the poor. While most of its advocates recognize a continuing need for considerable outside assistance (public and private), community building’s central theme is to obliterate feelings of dependency and to replace them with attitudes of self-reliance, self-confidence, and responsibility.”

Download the full report here.

Posted in Comprehensive Community Development: An Intro

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