This report introduces two new guides, the Process Framework and the Structural Framework, that aim to bring order to the very organic enterprise that is resident-empowered change. The text — which dives deeply into Casey’s Making Connections initiative in Denver — also pitches a strong case for using these two frameworks to help move community building from a intuition-driven journey to a more disciplined and sustainable field of practice.
Community builders just gained two new — and much needed — tools: the frameworks presented in this report.
Findings & Stats
The Process Framework: A Guide for Engaging Residents
The Process Framework is a five-part blueprint that outlines how to enhance relationships among neighbors and then engage these neighbors. It also tells how to organize committees and mobilize a newly-empowered community to act and engender positive change.
The Structural Framework: An Outline for Ensuring Order
The Structural Framework is a roadmap that spells out how to organize relationships in a newly-empowered neighborhood and bridge that neighborhood to a larger community of agencies, actors and resources. It consists of two related frameworks: a working interim structure and a more mature optimum structure.
Denver: Room for Improvement?
In Denver, community builders have favored engaging residents instead of utilizing neighborhood organizations and institutions. As a result, the initiative may be missing some important assets and inputs. Also subject to scrutiny: Denver’s planning process, or lack thereof. Key players say that their work is unfolding without an over-arching strategy or concerted communication plan in place.
Denver's Model Move: Capturing a Community's Stories
For a typical session in Denver’s Story Circle project, up to a dozen residents get together and share personal stories. The evening series supports community building in a variety of ways: it promotes social interaction and engagement while also helping to identify common neighborhood issues.
A Critical Component
Communication is key, and can help sustain momentum in a community-building effort. This report offers three quick tips for pulling together powerful messaging. Tip 1: Play up the positives. Report results accurately but focus on the most encouraging outcomes. Tip 2: Keep it real. Candid stories will generate greater community interest and support. Tip 3: Test it out. Run your talking points by residents who live in the communities you are aiming to reach.
The Role of Nonprofit Partners
One pressing and unanswered issue is how to engage local nonprofits in the world of resident-driven community action. If enlisted too late, these important organizations may be unprepared or unable to help. For now, experts recommend balancing the roles played by residents and community institutions.
Statements & Quotations
To be successful in the long term, community builders must establish a framework — a set of rules or principles to guide practice.
Community building for change can be an orderly process, deliberately managed to achieve good results.