今受けているクラスで、Concepts of Community Developmentというクラスがあるんですが、これがなかなか面白いクラスなんです。
Economy is important but community is vital. The United States develops mostly based on the market by making people more competitive on the economical realm. To some extent, this way is effective for the development of the country. Thus, economy is important. However, the country does not take care of communities very much. The fact would be obvious when you look at the policies made in the past five decades. As the country seeks more dependent way on global economy to maximize economic gains nationwide, it is more difficult for each local place to survive without economic influences from the global economy. When a condition of the economy is good, it might not be big problem. However, in case of global economic downturns like today’s economic condition, it becomes a big deal.
How could people avoid such uncertain results likely generated by the global economy on the local places? The most obvious way to do it is to disconnect the link to the global economy with each local place. Again, economy is important. But it should not be enough important to depend on the global economy. In other words, an economic influential realm needed by each local place should be as small as possible. It means that we should be more local not more global.
Now, communities matter. Today, power of the global economy is unbelievably powerful and influential. To stand up against the power and establish local economy in each place, people must unite and share the perspectives and objectives as a community at each place. Outputs made by a community can be far larger than those separately made by individuals. The extent to which the outputs can be larger is dependent on how the communities develop.
So, how can communities develop? One of the most important aspects of community development (CD) is to recognize fragmented capitals in the community and to bridge them. This must be done by local initiatives of each place individually in a bottom-up way. What kinds of capital are there or where potentials to be the capital are located in the community vary one place to another, one community to another. Xavier de Souza Briggs argues in chapter 4 in the book,“The Community Development Reader, ”“[t]op-down” approach doesn’t work well on it because of lack of “local knowledge” (Scott 1998), where professionals failed to consult” (p. 37). This indicates even professionals cannot cover all local problems and concerns.
So how should they work on them with local people? James DeFilipps states in chapter 3 that “[t]he national organizer, therefore, brings no agenda to the locality but instead allows the issues, and the solutions, to be defined by those within the locality” (p. 31). Thus, they should dedicate solely to encourage local people to do it themselves, not force them to obey.
Also, many CD corporations fail the mission because of factors generated from outside such as changes in local housing markets and city policies. They need well-formed strategic planning. The five components of CDC capacity introduced in chapter 6 help CDCs to identify where they are and where they should go from there to make it.
Here is my question about CD. Should “sustainability” be placed as our ultimate goal? My assumption is that it is just a minimal requirement for our future and CD enables us to reach far higher state. I feel that the current work for sustainability has passive attitudes that enable only those who could access to opportunities generated by it to benefit. On the other hand, CD enables also the rest of people to benefit, empowering them in a positive way as a community.
I value a Buddhist concept of “Buddha land”. This is not imaginary world but an achievable society in a realistic way. It is a society in which all people without exception can unlock their highest potential with other people and environment, no matter what happens. To achieve this, we need to conduct education that empowers all people in the true sense of the term not only in formal educational institutions but also in the whole society in a non-profit and positive way as a community.