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Voices From the Field II: Reflections on Comprehensive Community Change

Created by a 10-person team at The Aspen Institute, this report reexamines the conclusions and discussions that came out of its predecessor, Voices from the Field I, written in 1997. Like the first installment, this volume evaluates the concept of “community” as a way to organize social policies and anti-poverty programs. Based on interviews and meetings with 63 practitioners, academic experts and others, it suggest two essential factors for creating significant improvement in disadvantaged neighborhoods:

  • Communities must maximize their ability to produce whatever kinds of change are within their control, locally.
  • Communities must be able to use interactions with structures, resources, and other influences beyond their boundaries to the maximum advantage of the community.

This report reviews many of the best ideas already present in the comprehensive community development field, while also putting forth new recommendations.

The authors conclude that, “the recent CCI experience has done well to identify leadership development, social capital, and community mobilization as important issues, but substantial progress remains to be made on improving how we do each. Among community institutions, we have learned that most local organizations in poor communities are simply too weak to take on a comprehensive community-building agenda at a level that has potential for significant change. Organizations need straightforward, unglamorous capacity building within their staffs, boards, delivery and management systems and monitoring and evaluation procedures.”

And:

"The enduring aspects ofCCIs seem to be not the initiatives themselves but the capacity for change that they build, the connections they forge among people and organizations, the broad, strategic principles that they promote, and the opportunities for knowledge development that they provide."

The 134-page report includes an extensive list of other references "for further reading."

Download the full report here.

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Posted in Comprehensive Community Development: An Intro

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