Most of us enjoy the recognition from others when we do our job well. However, the challenge of Community Building is that the Community Builder’s role is to inspire and walk alongside residents, but not do things for the community that they can do for themselves. So, if your success as a Community Builder is dependent on what others in the community do, how do you get positive feedback about how well you are doing?
The best sort of feedback you can get is hearing stories about residents coming together that you knew nothing about. This sort of feedback is priceless as it starts to show how the culture of the community is changing towards one of togetherness and inclusion. We got some of this type of feedback this week through two blogs that appeared on the You’re Welcome website.
The first of these blogs came from PCSO Chris Jenkinson. Chris is a uniformed Police Officer working in Matson and Robinswood. Since the Community Building started three years ago, Chris has noticed how residents are now showing how they care about their neighbourhood. He shares how they have responded to a question about who cares about this place? “They have stood up as individuals and said I do and I will show you. Individuals become groups, become communities, become strength.”
Chris has observed how over time people and organisations are working together to build a better community “Members of the community that have built trust and supported by agencies that have become trusted allies in empowering the community. It is important that agencies build that trust and show they care too.”
Noticing these subtle, but critical cultural changes are at the heart of the Community Building process. Chris’ feedback shows how Community Building can have a fundamental impact on our behaviours in the places we live. You can read Chris’ blog at http://www.yourewelcome.to/gloucester/who-cares-show-you-do.
Shortly after Chris’ blog was posted another appeared. This time from Brendon, a Matson resident who posts under the name of Dangermouse. In Brendon’s blog he shares his dream to create an accessible playground… “we need to get a better park where able kids and disabled kids can all play together.”
Sharing a dream is one thing, but showing how you are taking action to make that dream a reality is something else. In this blog Brendon shared what he and his neighbour have done to move closer to building a playground for everyone. “I decided to find out if there was a need for this in Matson and started a petition, just to make sure I wouldn’t be wasting time, over 300 signatures later i knew the need was great.”
Brendon went on to show the support from the community to his local elected members, and secured their backing too.
“It did not take long before people had been talking and various bodies contacted me, Jenny Dallimore (conservative candidate) has offered me some funding along with the labour candidate I realised this is the start of the community park, I then told them how i was going to save them money by clearing away all debris ect with 30 community people who want to help with the park. All that would be left is a clearing ready for park to be built.”
Brendon even has a plan to make the park self-financing by selling advertising space! Stories like Brendon’s show the potential of what can happen when we come together. Brendon’s blog can also be viewed on the You’re Website http://www.yourewelcome.to/gloucester/rats-bats-and-tats.
Both of these blogs, came as a surprise, but the reflections from Chris and Brendon provide the biggest compliment a Community Builder can ever receive. It shows how Community Building can be sustained when local people own and lead the change in their community. The Community Builder’s role is to create the conditions that enables residents to share their dreams and connect their skills and talents. This cultural shift shows how Community Building can offer a sustainable approach to building welcoming and inclusive communities.
Finally, to quote Lao Tze: ‘Go to the people, live among them, learn from them, love them. Start with what they know, build on what they have. But of the best leaders when their task is done the people will remark “we have done it ourselves”.