Our community ! Understanding communities ! Dysfunctional communities
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People with disability (inclusive definition)
A question of difference
A question of values
How does the community care?
Explanation of terms

Building values and relationships




Values and relationships

Building community networks and relationships

Community participation and inclusion

Values form the basic premise and motivation in any human endeavour. We do something because we find value in, or attach a positive value on the activity or the outcome of the activity. Conversely, we do not do something because there is no value in the activity, or the outcome of the activity is negatively valued. The idea of values is purely personal in their conception and execution. However, these values come from somewhere. They may come from our parents, family, peer group, the community or the society that we live in. They also come from our experiences. Values are also based in knowledge and understanding of the world around us. They are also based in ignorance, myths and legends. They are also based in culture and history. Values determine how we interact with others and the world around us. We consciously and unconsciously make value judgements about ourselves and others around us.

Values in the subjective sense and are determined by a number of factors. The values that we assign ourselves, others and objects are determined by our feelings, the activity, who are we doing it with, the setting, our expectations and the expectations of others in the activity etc. Wolfensberger describes values as being of three types; Idealised, Norm-linked and Operational (high order, medium order and low order) (Diligio: Social Role Valorization - Understanding SRV P.36). When participating in any activity, our values are directly related to the activity and others within the activity. We often see a conflict of these high order values that SRV refers to when trying to implement them in our normal activities. We may value freedom and the preservation of human life, but how often do we kill others in the quest for freedom. One person may value happiness as a high order value and wealth as a low order value, while another may value wealth as a high order value and happiness as a low order value. We may value/devalue the person in their role (teacher, artist, politician, policeman etc.) and devalue/value the person as a person.

Values in the objective sense are determined by our relationships with others within the community ...
... what are the preconceptions that we may have of the other person?
... what are the expectations that we may have of the other person?
... how do we relate to the person?
... how do they relate to us?
... what are the similarities and differences in the relationship?
... how we see our own role.
... how we see the roles of others and how we relate to those roles.
... how others see our role and how they relate to the role.

The value that is placed on the role could be positive or negative depending on ...
the activity within the community
the setting within the community
our relationships to the other members of the community.

Often there are a set of values that we use in these associations ...
do we value one thing or another?
what is the value placed on something over something else?
what happens when something happens that does not fit into our set of values?

Any interaction with others and the world around us involve relationships on many different levels. Three broad levels are: 1) Social, 2) Personal and 3) Intimate. All involve an exchange of ideas and feelings about ourselves and the others within the relationship.

While relationships may vary according to the activity and the setting, and the others within the activity and the setting., they can be described as four distinct types:

Dependent ...
Loss of identity, loss of autonomy, can not function outside the relationship. Can not provide for their own needs.

Independent ...
Autonomous, self-directed, self-governing. Does not rely on direction or help from others in the relationship. Is not bound by others. No outside controls.
No shareing or careing.

Codependent ...
Mutually dependent. There is a sense of the members being unable to function without the presence of the others within the relationship.
All ideas and feelings come from within the relationship. Nothing comes from outside.

Interdependent ...
Members in the relationship bring their own skills and resources into the relationship. They support each other while not being dependent on each other,
Shareing and careing.

Rarely does any relationship consist of one type, but may move from one type to another according to the needs of one or more members at a particular time. When one member is sick, away or involved with something else, the whole dynamics of the relationship changes.

Values and relationships

Values and relationships are more than the skills or resources that we have. They are about caring and sharing. They are about feelings and experiences with each other. They are about understanding each other and looking past any differences we may have.

Nigel Brooks (Building Strong Relationships - Four Stages of Development, Four Phases of Connection) suggests there are 4 stages in a business relationship:
* Formation - getting to know each other
* Divergence - differing opinions, disagreement, and doubt
* Convergence - reconcilement, acceptance, and agreement
* Association - performing collaboratively or cooperatively
However the relationship can migrate to back to the divergence phase at any time.

Building blocks towards building values and relationships
... Trust
... Communication
... Respect for the other person
... Understanding the other person's point of view
... Sharing experiences
... Patience
... Acceptance
... Willingness
... Genuineness
... Assertive
... Diplomatic
... Empathy

Building community networks and relationships

There is no magic formula, things do not mysteriously happen. Community participation and inclusion is about the person and the community and building networks and relationships, and supporting those networks and relationships, where the person participates in and is a part of that community.

Community access
Its no good being a part of a community when you can't access the community.
Communication between members
Its no good being a part of a community when you can't communicate with others, or they can't communicate with you.
Community presence
Build a profile of yourself within the community so that others know you and have the opportunity to find some common interests.
Community participation
Understand the community. What are the activities, values etc. of the community. Find some ways where your involvement contributes to the community.

Above all else
Be yourself. Be genuine, honest. If your are not accepted in the community, then that community is not for you.
Be careful. By understanding the community and its members, we have the opportunity to avoid communities and situations that are not desirable.

People who do not have the skills and resources to build and maintain their networks are disadvantaged in that they no not have the opportunity to become a part of any community.

SRV is an important strategy in developing networks and relationships.
Often the person needs some training in some skills (life skills etc.) so the person can participate.
Community development. By encouraging the community through various strategies (ownership, providing the skills and resources, providing a valued role for the members in supporting the person etc.)

A good place to start is with a Local Community Group that has connections with various local clubs and social groups. Strategies can be found where a person can be introduced into the particular activity that most suits his/her needs.

Community participation and inclusion

Community participation is about the community participating in the activities of its members.

A football club, for example, has a strong supporter base. The community of the football club is not only the facilities, players and members, but also the supporters. The football club has a valued role in the wider community and the players and members feel a strong sense of purpose and connection with each other, the club, as well as the wider community. Now imagine that a person with a severe disability was a part of that community, and was supported (through various strategies) by that community in the activities of the community. The person may live in a community of a service provider, or the wider community (a community home, facility, hostel, special home etc.) with other disabled and able people. Through the development of a valued role as well as having the skills and resources, within the football club community, the person then has the opportunity to become connected with that community.

Alternatively, if I go to a football match with some valued friends, I am temporarily a part of the football community. I may know some of the others there and have conversations with them. The community that I feel a part of may be my friends and I have no real connection with the others participating in the activity (the players or the others watching the game). I could also be a strong supporter of one of the teams and feel a part of that community. The value I place on the others participating in the activity would depend on which side they supported (friend or foe) and their role in the activity (may be an umpire etc.). Through the principles of SRV the person may be treated with respect and consideration and valued as a spectator or supporter at the game (his/her role), however, the community that he/she is a part of is determined by his/her connections (shared experiences and valued relationships), rather than the physical presence within the community.

"The idea of community is a powerful one, but there is more than one model of community and for this reason and others, many ways to help develop community spirit. At the end of the day, it is a question of how we choose to identify ourselves and whether, as groups and individuals, we feel we belong. Not all communities are constructed around places, but many of them are, although sometimes the place in question is the one we have left behind. But the notion of community spirit within urban places is still important, for the places we inhabit us. For this reason, the final conclusion here is that the Department for Victorian Communities might consider extending its activities to work with other agencies on place-making, on understanding the links between local economies and local identity, and in promoting public forms of social life in the urban public realm."
(COMMUNITY, PLACE AND BUILDINGS - The Role of Community Facilities in Developing Community Spirit - End note)

By providing valued community roles (active role, ownership, SRV etc.) at each level of participation, the person then has the opportunity to become a valued member of each respective community that the person participates in, i.e.: the community of the service provider, recreational community, educational community or employment community etc.

"Community Participation and Inclusion. Living in the community does not necessarily mean being included and automatically leading a participatory life. People can live very isolated and segregated lives, simply by having a presence in the community without involvement.
Special Services for people with a disability can further promote their isolation, exclusion and devalued status. The CLP believes that inclusion means to be part of, contribute to and be involved in all the same activities, at the same places, and right beside, all other community members."
(Community Living Project (CLP) - SA)

Empowering Communities in Disadvantaged Urban Areas: towards greater community participation in Irish Urban Planning? Part II – summary 2007
Guidelines for Supported Community Inclusion, the HealthRight Project

Think of any community that you may be a part of (shopping, your family, down at the pub, at work etc.)
What is your relationship to the community?
What are your roles within the community?
What are the roles of the other members within the community?
What are your connections (shared experiences and valued relationships) within that community?
What are your expectations?
What are the expectations of the community?
What your skills and resources?
What are the skills and resources of the community?
What are the values of the community?
Do you value your community?
Does your community value you?
How does the community value your participation within the community?

Peter Anderson