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Community life cycle


Social Role Valorisation (SRV)
Deinstitutionalisation
Disability services
Disability and community

Understanding communities
Dysfunctional communities
Building better communities
Building values and relationships




Community life cycle
Community life cycle
Establishment
Action
Maintenance
Self evaluation
Consolidation, growth and expansion
Community relationships
Competition
Community empowerment
Community rights and responsibilities



Community life cycle: (Top)
Most communities are reactive, rather than proactive. Its only when something happens that has an impact on all members of the community that anyone is inclined to do anything. Small issues can go on for years without being a threat to the community. It is only through some form of social activity that draws the attention of the community to the issue, that solutions can be found. There is also the problem that any solution is generally not representative of the community as a whole.

Communities can be thought of as organisms that are born, grow and die. Some communities are temporary for a specific purpose, and others are permanent. However long their life span, they all have the same stages.

… Birth: A group of people discover that they have something in common. Define themselves as a community.
… Establishment: Chaos to order. Organisation of social groups. Organisation of political groups. Develop policies, strategies etc. Establish formal / informal goals and objectives, hierarchies, roles, values etc. Identify and establish skills / resources etc.
… Action: Implement policies, strategies etc. Work towards the goals and objectives of the community.
… Maintenance: Balance the needs of its members with the needs of the community. Communicate, share skills/resources with its members to maintain the community.
… Self evaluation: Chaos and change. React to issues within and outside the community. Develop new policies, strategies etc.
… Consolidation/growth: Implement new policies, strategies etc. Develop the membership base, formal / informal structures, skills / resources where necessary. New communities may evolve within the community that have different specialities, skills or resources, agendas or values etc.
… Death: Can on longer function as a community for various reasons.


Community life cycle

Once a community has been established, it generally moves between Action, Maintenance, Self evaluation, and Growth stages until a time comes when it can no longer function as a community. An important part of the life cycle is the Self evaluation (and can happen at any time throughout the cycle), where the community may go through a process of chaos and change. Members jostle with each other, promote their own issues and agendas, form power groups and factions etc. (M. Scott Peck) (Community Life Cycle Matrix) (Tuckman's stages of group development)


Establishment: (Top)
While communities are as individual as their members, they are usually organised or built around a set of principles that allows the members to participate in the community
... Access: the members must be able to access the community
... Communication: the members must be able to communicate with each other
... Presence: the members must have some sort of relationship with the other members (see themselves, and are seen, as a part of the community)
... Participation: the members must have some sort of involvement within the community

The community also needs ...
... A way of defining itself as a community
:.. An agreement between the members about what the community does and how it is to be done

These principles could be described as the characteristcits of the community.
Characteristics of a community:
... Has one or more roles that define its identity within society.
... Has a set of goals - provides a sense of direction.
... Is organised within a set of formal/informal hierarchies, beliefs, values, expectations and behaviours (institutions) that defines the boundary of the community.
... The boundary may be explicit (physical) or implicit (defined by the shared characteristics of its members).
... Has ownership of it's members.
... There is some form of communication between members.
... Has skills and resources that are shared between the members.
... Balance the needs of the community with the needs of its members.
... Often has clubs, teams, groups etc. within the community.


Action: (Top)
While the community has a set of goals and objectives, the members also have their own defined goals and objectives which complement and support the goals and objectives of the community. The community is also dependant on the members achieving their own goals and objectives, in achieving it's (the community’s) own goals and objectives.

Members ...
... are motivated.
... feel a part of the process.
... have a clear, positive outcome: outcomes that are clear, attainable, and worthwhile to all members.
... have effective communication: all members communicate to, and respect each other.
... have coordination of activity: all members have clear valued roles.

All communities measure their success or failure (outcomes) against these goals and objectives. These outcomes provide a sense of achievement (or loss) for the community as a whole as well as the members of the community, and can be measured in any number of ways. Families need to pay the bills, workers need to achieve targets, doctors need to heal the sick etc. Two broad types of outcomes can be described as:

Objective outcomes (community)
... Are measured scientifically and economically
... Facts and figures, targets etc
... Physical rewards
... Tools and equipment
... Facilities
Objective outcomes are tangible in the sense that they can be seen, touched and measured by all members within the community as well as others outside the community.

Subjective outcomes (members)
... Are measured as benefits
... Facts and figures, targets etc
... Physical rewards
... Skills / knowledge etc
... Emotional
... Spiritual
Subjective outcomes are intangible in the sense that they reflect the member’s feelings, experiences and gains through achieving the goals and objectives. The outcomes will have different effects on the members according to their expectations, what their role was and how much they were changed (learned new skills / knowledge, new life experiences, new relationships etc).

Outcomes can be community orientated (objective / scientific), member orientated (subjective / social) or a mixture of both:


Shows the relationship between the community / members / outcomes.

Using the example of a new football ground that is built in a suburb, it can be seen that there are two distinct outcomes:
1) Objective: The football ground has been built. It can be seen and touched.
2) Subjective: The football ground is a symbol of accomplishment and pride within the football community, in providing a valued resource for it's members and can be shared with other communities. But what about the other communities that may be involved? Do they have the same feelings as the football community?


Maintenance: (Top)
A community has two broad functions ...
1) Supporting and maintaining the needs of the members.
2) Supporting and maintaining the needs of the community.

Sometimes the needs of the community become greater that the needs of the members:
… income, The community cannot function with out a source of wealth, etc.
… qualified staff/resources, Lack of competent staff/resources means that the members:are not getting the proper support, etc.
… maintenance, The community needs to maintain the facilities, equipment to a standard that is required by the members.
… management, the management hierarchy increases to cope with its own needs.
Etc.


Personal needs Vs Community needs


Self evaluation: (Top)
Chaos and change. The community needs to be able to react to issues within and outside the community. Develop new policies, strategies etc.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the community?

Effective communities
... Understand the changing internal and external environments and how they relate to the community
... Involve all members
... Effective communication between all members
... Understand what members need
... Aware of relevant research and the evidence base for practice
... Data gathering, analysis and reporting mechanisms
... Informed decision making processes
... Coordinating internal and external services

The community needs to identify the needs of its members and distribute the resources in the most effective way so that the members can fulfil their roles. These needs are often prioritised according to available resources in meeting those needs and who will benefit most. Members have different needs within the community.

Often, there are a number of unresolved issues in the community that are not necessarily related to each other (politics, personal agendas, interest groups etc). These issues may lie simmering under the surface and are generally not dealt with until a crises mobilises the community (that the whole community is threatened in a sense that the community will not be able to function as a whole until the issue has been resolved, eg the roads need fixing, power and gas shortages, strikes for more wages etc). Even then, where issues do not threaten the community as a whole, we see sub-groups (sub-communities) forming within the community that feel that they do not share some of the characteristics of the community of which they are a part of. Where there is no visible threat to the community as a whole, members become complacent and prefer to leave the status quo. Individual members (or groups) need to motivate and mobilise (create a sense of urgency or importance within) the community to achieve a desired outcome.

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."


Consolidation, growth and expansion: (Top)
A community needs to implement new policies, strategies etc. Develop the membership base, formal / informal structures, skills / resources where necessary. New communities may evolve within the community that have different specialities, skills or resources, agendas or values etc.

Growth and expansion is not a goal or ideal that a community should aspire towards, but as a way to provide for the needs of a community. Growth and expansion is not an end, but a means to an end. As the member's needs increase, the community needs to find new ways to meet those needs. It may need more space, skills and resources. Often growth and expansion works to the disadvantage of a community, where its existing resources are stretched to the limit. The community becomes unfocused and uncoordinated. Community growth and expansion is dependent on existing skills and resources that are within the community as well as the communities that it is a part of. A lack existing skills and resources result in programs that are substandard, or do not get finished. Communication breaks down. The community may become fractured where needs are not being met. Different groups compete for leadership which creates social unrest, and even the social dislocation of some groups within the community.


Community relationships: (Top)
Community roles determine the relationships with other communities, and the way we interact with others within those communities. Interdependent relationships are mutually inclusive, where we share skills and resources to benefit all members. Rather than interdependent relationships with other communities, we see co-dependent, independent and dependent relationships evolving. Communities that are co-dependent, independent or dependent are often inefficient and ineffective in providing for their own needs. You may say that independence and empowerment are the same things, Nothing could be further from the truth. No one is truly independent. Independent relationships are mutually exclusive, where we do not share with others. Co-dependent and dependent relationships are about being dependent on each other or one person in a relationship. Communities are no different.


Competition: (Top)
Competition encourages people and communities to aspire to greater things. Competition also unites members toward a goal. It inspires members to achieve things that they would not do normally. Communities also have the opportunity to learn from the achievements, and also the failures. How could things have been done better? There is also a sense of frustration in the community not achieving its goal. How the community deals with the frustration is determined by its social construction. Competition can also destroy communities. Where the goal becomes more important than the means of the community to achieve the goal, the community can fall apart very easily.


Community empowerment: (Top)
"Community empowerment refers to the process of enabling communities to increase control over their lives."
 Community empowerment : World Health Organisation, 2010
The community takes ownership
Self direction
Informed decisions
Communities make mistakes. It is important for communities to to learn from their own experiences and grow


An empowered community has the ability to effectively respond to the needs of its members.
This is NOT ...
... a sense of independence or dependence on other communities that it is a part of, or are a part of it - communities complement each other and need to work together in fulfilling the needs of their members.
... dictating to community members what they should or should not be doing - there needs to be a sense of shared ownership and responsibility within the community.
... dictating to other communities what they should or should not be doing - there needs to be a sense of shared ownership and responsibility within society.
... using skills and resources to the detriment of other communities - skills and resources don't get used responsibly or effectively.
... growing or expanding - is not an end, but a means to an end.

Empowered communities ...
... have shared goals, beliefs, values, cultures, institutions etc
... have ownership of their members
... provide valued roles for their members
... communicate effectively with their members
... can depend on their own resources
... balance their own needs
... can share and draw on skills/resources where needed
(See Dysfunctional communities)

Having said that, communities are not perfect places. They are arrogant, dynamic, protective, stubborn, irrational, ungainly, bureaucratic, self centred, hypercritical, subjective ,,, and the list goes on and on. While communities may have some of these features, you can't really blame the community. Just as a chain is as strong as the weakest link, communities are only as strong as its leadership.

Strong leadership
... determines the direction of the community
... provides a valued role for the community and its members
... provides a set of outcomes which are measurable


Community rights and responsibilities: (Top)
Communities also have rights and responsibilities, both to the members of the community and other communities that they are a part of. An empowered community understands these relationships and how these relationships impact on the community, and other communities that are a part of it.

Rights:
... the right to its own identity
... the right to set its own agenda, constitution and institutions
... the right to participate within the wider community
... the right to access skills and resources within the wider community
... the right to support its members within the wider community
... the right to protect its members from influences that disadvantage its members
... the right to refuse entry to members that do not fit into the community
... the right to evict members that do not accept the agenda, constitution and institutions of the community
... the right to refuse skills and resources to the wider community, where its members are disadvantaged
... the right to determine its own destiny

Responsibilities:
... to ensure the agenda, constitution and institutions of the community, protect and support its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to provide a safe, secure environment for its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to facilitate the development of valued roles and relationships for the community, its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to ensure that the community communicates with its members as well as other communities and their members
... to ensure the community does not disadvantage other communities or their members
... to responsibility use, and share, skills and resources to the advantage of its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to respect, protect and promote the rights, cultures and institutions of other communities and their members
... to engage with other communities in an interdependent relationship



Community life cycle

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