Saturday, March 3, 2012

End of Day 14: $2225.00

In the mail today came another $35.00 in donations from a couple of generous donors- thanks!!  I also appreciate receiving the notes that often come with the donations!  I'm still waiting to hear the total from the bowling event, but my friend did mention to me that apparently there was some friendly betting going on that resulted in one individual agreeing to matching the amount raised that night- awesome!  Which, brings up the subject of matching.  For those of you that have already donated, you may want to check with your employers to see if they do any kind of matching for donations to charity.  Or for those of you that are still planning to donate or are planning to attend fundraising event you may want to consider looking into employee matching to make your donation go even further!

Several of my friends and family members have heard me talk at length about why community driven development projects are so important (and I also wrote a little bit about it in an earlier post).  Unfortunately, there are a lot of development projects that do not have the support or backing of a community both here in the US and across the globe.  Take, for example, disagreements over proposed development in Madison, Wisconsin's downtown State Street area.  A proposal to tear down several buildings along the 100 block of State Street was met with opposition voiced by local individuals and business owners over preservation of historic buildings on this block, and then led to some compromises being sought for preserving these landmarks (2-1-12 Channel 3000Moisman, 10-2-2011).  Or, check out one of the top stories from the local paper in Madison today, which talks about plans for redeveloping apartments near campus, and three different interest groups have plans that do not align.  In communities the size of Madison (according to 2010 U.S. census data, Madison's population was 233,209), any development project will meet some opposition (though even small communities are not immune to these kinds of disputes, of course).  But, it's the resulting discussions, and compromises, and communication between the "two sides" that can determine the "success" of the development.  Pick any city or community and you'll find many similar examples.

The more disparate the perspectives of the groups involved in the development discussions, the more difficult it may be to reach a consensus. Or, if one group is largely at a political or economic advantage over the other group, this may result in a lack of participation in discussions, and these groups choosing, instead, to use political or economic will to determine what "should" happen.  In these instances, resentment, or worse, "bad development" could result.  So, how does "good development" occur?  Or what constitutes "good development"?  Very generally, "good development" results when interested parties work together and when communication and understanding are paramount.  The outcome may include increased resilience and a resulting reduction in vulnerability and increased amount of security and adaptability.  A synergy can result where there is the potential for individuals involved to see things from a different perspective.  Information sharing and joint decision-making may also be key (DePaoli 2011).  

As I've mentioned before, bottom-up development movements (i.e. community driven and directed), are likely to be much more successful than those being imposed by individuals with little direct experience in the community (Altieri & Masera, 1993).  These types of bottom-up, or participatory development approaches, can include communities and/or individuals joining up with individuals that may be considered "outside" of the community and still be successful.  The difference is, however, that these "outsiders" aren't really true "outsiders", as they act as facilitators of the process and active participants in a cooperative process of development.  Examples of less successful top-down approaches to development projects are easier to find when individuals outside of the community are directing and implementing the project without consideration for, or with, the local community.

I feel very strongly that these types of bottom-up, participatory development models can be applied to an endless number of communities, though the recipe for success will vary.  Of course, each community will have its own unique needs, interests, opinions, and expertise to go on, which needs to be incorporated.

Please feel free to post a comment or email me thoughts on this or any other topic you would like discussed or have questions about.

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