by Angeliz Diaz
“Building Community Partnerships That Work” is a two-day workshop that introduced me to different ways of engaging community members within their own community and how to build community partnerships that work. I had a great opportunity to learn from very talented people from a variety of service systems that shared concerns, weakness, and strengths of their communities.
There are many things I learned from this workshop. The most important one is to distinguish between the people who only give opinion about what needs to be done and the people who act to have something done within their community. I also learned that every individual has something to offer to his or her community and organizing the community is the only way people will know that there is no one that the community doesn’t need.
After this workshop I have understood the importance of finding, mobilizing and connecting the assets in a community. The individuals are the most important assets of a community, discovering what they care enough about to act on is establishing relationships, and getting them involved is mobilizing the assets.
When the members of a community are called, they respond, they have different expectations depending on who makes the call, but they respond. It’s important to use “the right duck” to call up the members of a community, somebody who doesn’t offer all the solutions but instead ask them what they care about. Utilizing the service of the community’s members is part of building relationships; they feel useful and valuable when their talent or skills are used as part of the community’s resources.
Community leaders should know that every individual in a community cares about something and that something is a motivation to act. As a leader of my community, I engage conversations and relationships with people of all kinds to discover their motivation to act.
One of the tools this workshop gave me to establish relationships and getting the members of my community involved is the “Twelve Guiding Principles for Community Engagement”
. I read these principles over and over, every time I read them there is something new to learn and applicable to my community.
The second principle, relationships build a community, has been my best friend since Mike Green explained to us and gave us examples of why relationships build a community. I apply that principle every day of my life everywhere I go.
First, I started with the parents of our local elementary school, they are the ones that have more concerns about the community because their children are still young and it is in their interests to have a save and healthy environment for their young kids to grow. I discovered that I have many things in common with most of the parents. They care and they want to act. I’ve established very strong relationships with some of the parents; we created a network of concerned parents. My relationships with some of the mothers of our local elementary school have taking me to my next goal, to build a domestic violence victim response team. I discovered this need in my community just asking questions to the mothers in the parks, in the softball clinic, volunteering for community events, and researching our statistics with our police department.
I understand I don’t have complete trust of my community yet, it takes time and work. I am trying to create a series of life skills workshops for members of my community with the intention of empowering the community but also to show them that establishing relationships is a positive thing. “Building Community Partnerships That Work” taught me different strategies to discover people gifts and get the community members involved, but the greatest gift it gave me was to discover my own gifts.
To see the Twelve Guiding Principles for Community Development click here