Do You Want To Embark On a Community Building Path? Here Is What You Should Start With

by Participation Factory

The importance of communities is being increasingly emphasized, both in existing neighbourhoods and in new development projects. In a neighbourhood community, people not only share a living space, but also values and beliefs (religion, activism or politics), and individual interests. When we intentionally create a community for the purpose of a shared goal, it can deepen relationships, create feelings of belonging, and provide support for the health and well-being of all members. 

Community development is a long-term process that has many approaches to it. However, whatever approach we end up following, we first need to create a solid foundation for our community-building efforts.

What do you need to do first before establishing and starting to build a community? Here are our tips:

Step 1: Mapping the context

First of all, we should map the context in which a given group of people is operating. This will allow us to gain the trust of the community members, to get to know the relationships that exist between them, to figure out who has influence in the community, who is a leader, what the strengths and weaknesses are, and much more. The mapping can be done through in-depth interviews with the neighbours or surveys.

Step 2: Creating mutual understanding

Working with and developing the community will be easier if we first identify what people need and expect from the community. That way we can find shared connections and introduce concepts or elements that people can easily identify with. Also, regularly sharing general information about the key benefits of participation and community life will help the community members to better understand their value.

Step 3: Ensuring a participatory creation of the community’s vision

A community vision is a statement of a desired state that the community would like to achieve. The creation of the vision should be as participatory as possible, guiding community members to define a positive future. The vision should be realistic but challenging enough to lead to desired changes. Community members identifying with the vision and taking it as their own is crucial for the future development of the community.

Step 4: Select appropriate topics to address

The community is united by common problems and topics that require common solutions. Selecting topics to address is another activity that requires everyone’s participation. The topic must be something that concerns the majority of community members and unites and motivates them to actively take part in developing its solution. People’s motivation increases when the topic or problem is easy to understand and when there is a high probability of success.

Finding solutions to the identified common issues is of course the next step for the community. However, what we want to highlight through this article is the process that gives rise to the appropriate conditions for community building. The most important rule is the involvement of the neighbours from the very beginning of the process. Anyone who is interested should have an opportunity to participate in shaping and setting up the foundation of the community. This will ensure that people will easily identify with the community’s mission and the community itself will soon become self-sustaining. 

Neighbourhood communities are a gateway to better understanding our own lives and the lives of others and create an essential foundation for people working toward common goals. Neighbours are learning to rely on each other, working together on concrete tasks that take advantage of new self-awareness of their collective and individual assets and, in the process, creating human, family, and social capital. So, community building’s central theme should always be to obliterate feelings of dependency and replace them with attitudes of self-reliance, self-confidence, and responsibility.


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