Thursday, August 26, 2010

Way Down There

"Community and community groups are hot--and they've been hot for a long time. Community is where public policy increasingly expects the 'solutions' to social problems to be found..."

James DeFillipis, Robert Fisher, and Eric Shragge, "What Kind of Community Organizations and for What Purpose?" Shelterforce, Spring 2010.

Is any aspect of the above statement reasonably true? I mean empirically true, not a statement of our dreams. My impression is that the community sector is tattered and that serious challenges by friends and foes have questioned the importance of 'place' and the capacity of community organizations. Of course, some cities and regions stand out and have an overabundance or community groups -- but this isn't the norm. But maybe I'm missing something.

"Lesson #1: Groups should properly understand 'the community' and its real limits and potential. Although we are critical about how 'community' has been used and shaped in the contemporary context, we are not dismissive of its potential of its potential to be part of a larger movement for social change."

There is a useful insight embodied in this Olympian statement that urges communiities to "properly understand" while noting that the authors "are not dismissive." Upon which mountain peak overlooking the rise and fall of social movements do they sit?

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