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Publication #FCS9230

IFAS Community Development: Stage 5 of Empowering Your Community–Implementation1

Mark Brennan, Muthusami Kumaran, Randall Cantrell, and Michael Spranger 2

This paper is part of a series of discussions on community development. This series includes specialized papers on civic engagement, community action, and other topics important to the development of community.

Introduction

This paper is part of a series of discussions on community development. This series includes specialized papers on civic engagement, community action, and other topics important to the development of community.

Including Implementation in Your Extension Work

Throughout the previous stages, resources were gathered and assessed, subgroups were formed to focus on specific tasks, and active citizens were recruited. In the implementation stage, these resources are formally committed, and people are given the task of going forward to achieve the goals established by the community action organization and its subgroups. To maximize their impact, each subgroup should:

1. Meet to review goals, objectives, and immediate steps for action

As action efforts are launched, it is essential that all participants be clear about the planned goals and the methods for meeting these goals. It may be the case that newer activists are uncertain or unclear about the specifics of how change will be achieved. A brief meeting or transmission of information (e-mail, fax, action guide, etc.) would be useful in making certain that everyone involved is aware of (1) how to proceed and (2) the resources available to support successful action.

2. Identify clear and measurable stages or benchmarks for all objectives

While goals, objectives, and action plans have already been established (stage 3), it will be useful to identify clear benchmarks or measurable impacts. This will serve to provide activists with feedback and to show that action efforts are making progress. Such measurable impacts will also show the general public that the organization is fostering positive changes on behalf of the community. As milestones are achieved, these can be promoted and marketed accordingly.

3. Take action

Empowered with plans and a detailed background, activists and subcommittees can move forward. As they take action, opportunities and mechanisms for feedback and discussion should be presented. These opportunities can be communicated through meetings, informal gatherings, e-mails, or established communication mechanisms to provide the insight and advice needed to adjust action plans.

4. Celebrate achievements (and failures)

As achievements are made and measurable impacts achieved, celebrate and promote them through informal celebrations, in the media, and in other promotional avenues. It may also be the case that some action efforts have failed. The fact that these did not reach success is irrelevant, and they should be celebrated as the first efforts of what will be many valid action efforts to come. Community development is achieved if diverse groups are brought together, and channels of communication are established. From this process, future efforts will emerge that can achieve continued success.

5. Evaluate and readjust

Community development and locally based action are never-ending processes. Both need to be continuously cultivated. As progress in various forms is made, it is essential that mistakes, barriers, and inconsistencies in application are identified and addressed. To fine tune action efforts, opportunities to effectively measure outcomes and provide feedback are vital to long-term goal achievement.

To provide feedback, formal debriefing meetings should be established at the conclusion of action efforts. These meetings can evaluate progress, identify barriers, and explore new means for dealing with unforeseen problems. At these debriefing meetings, all subgroups/committees can report on their activities, achievements, progress, obstacles, and methods for adjusting to challenges. All of these meetings set the stage for long-term action efforts and continued social changes. The development of community is not a one-time event in which success or failure is detailed. Instead, it is a process where success is measured by the ability to convene actively interested and diverse citizens who are engaged in their community.

Conclusions

Through all of the stages discussed, but most directly seen in the implementation stage, community citizens unite and work toward shared goals. In the community action process, channels of communication and interaction are established that cut across class, race, and other lines. Such remarkable achievement represents our definition of community development, and this process must be promoted and fostered on all possible occasions. Building on the success achieved by this active group, the long-term process of achieving social change can begin. This long-term course of action will be characterized by numerous successes, as well as failures and setbacks. By producing a cohesive group of residents, a structure is in place that will operate proactively to positively shape local well-being. This group will also be able to respond to threats and emerging problems within the community. In the end, this coordinated local capacity will contribute to social and economic changes that benefit all community citizens and groups.

References and Useful Reading

Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, M. Spranger and R. Cantrell. 2014. The Importance of Local Community Action in Shaping Development. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy729

Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, R. Cantrell, and M. Spranger. 2014. Empowering Your Community: Stage 3, Goal Setting and Strategy Development. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy764

Brennan, M. A., C. Regan, M. Kumaran, M. Spranger, and R. Cantrell. 2014 Empowering Your Community: Stage 2, Organization of Sponsorship. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy763

Green, G. P., and A. Hines. 2012. Asset Building and Community Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc

Luloff, A.E., and J. Bridger. 2003. Community Agency and Local Development. Pp. 203-213 in, Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty-First Century, edited by D. Brown and L. Swanson. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Marcus, J., M.A. Brennan, M. Kumaran, R. Cantrell, and M. Spranger. 2014. Empowering Your Community: Stage 1, Initiation. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy740

Theodori. G. 2004. Preparing for the Future: A Guide to Community Based Planning. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension Service.

Wilkinson, K. 1970. “Phases and roles in community action.” Rural Sociology. 35 (1): 54-68.

Wilkinson, K.P. 1991. The community in rural America. New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1991.

Suggested Websites

The Community Development Society http://www.comm-dev.org/

Community Resource Group http://www.crg.org/

Civic Practices Network http://www.cpn.org/

Grass-roots.org http://www.grassroots.org/

International Association for Community Development http://www.iacdglobal.org/

Southern Rural Development Center http://srdc.msstate.edu

Sustainable Development Communication Network http://www.sdgateway.net

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS9230, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2005. Revised January 2014. Reviewed January 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Mark A. Brennan, PhD, former faculty member, assistant professor; Muthusami Kumaran, PhD, assistant professor, Randall Cantrell, PhD, assistant professor; and Michael Spranger, PhD, professor; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL, 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.