welcome: language, CO and CD

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Jul 30 08:39:40 CDT 2003

[ed:  thanks to Phil and Katherine for continuing the conversation 
begun by Colleen's post. And a big COMM-ORG welcome to 
Katherine. Note that I have changed the subject line to reflect the 

From: "Olson, Philip G." <OlsonP at umkc.edu>

I find the discussion below on "bringing resources" to communities 
an interesting and perplexing one. I think Colleen used the word 
"bring" to mean "helping to make accessible" to a community 
seeking assistance. We all "bring" to groups we work with, i.e. we 
carry  with us our knowledge base of resources, data, organizing 
principles, experience, grant writing skills, etc.; however we learn 
not to put those resources on the table without first being asked to 
by the group we are working with. So the real issue is not in the 
"bringing," but in the "making available" of what we can offer. PHil 


From: Katherine Turner <kturner12 at rogers.com>


I also am a new member to the list.  I work in London, Ontario in a 
small non-profit housing and development organization.  I am also 
the community director of a community-university research alliance 
working to create change in the areas of mental health and 

Everyday we struggle with the balance between community 
development and community organizing.  In some cases, it is the 
perceptions of others that attempt to pigeon hole us into one 
category or the other - often to label us as other.

I agree language is extremely important but we are not always 
good at clarifying our language.  I think, in part, that that is because 
we are constantly learning more about what it is we need to say 
and how we need to say it.



> From: "Marisa Novara" <novaram at crcl.com>
> Hi Colleen,
> I felt compelled to write with a comment on your posting below.
> It is important when talking about money, control and ownership to 
> start with the basic premise that these are not things that one can 
> successfully "bring to" someone else. To assert so sounds 
> paternalistic at best. We cannot GIVE people power. The most we 
> can do - and the best we can do - is to work along side, to work with 
> people to develop the skills to create and claim THEIR OWN 
> power. This may just seem like semantics, but I do feel it is a very 
> important distinction.  
> Marisa Novara
> > 
> > From: "CED" <ced at snhu.edu>
> > 
> > Hello Everyone,
> > 
> > I am happy to be apart of this little community of information! 
> > 
> > My name is Colleen Sage and I work in the (non-profit) School of
> > Community Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University, 
> > where people come from all over the United States and the world to learn
> > how to go out into poor communities and bring money, control and
> > ownership to the poor people living there.
> > 
> > I commend everyone who is involved in this program and others like it. 
> > 
> **********************
> [ed:  this is a set of issues which cause me continual consternation.  
> I want to use Colleen's words, because they help me feel useful 
> and relevent, which are difficult feelings to achieve in academia.  
> At the same time, I agree with Marisa.  I suppose if I had power--
> like access to decision-makers or loads of money, I could think of 
> myself as giving some form of power to others.  But even then it is 
> up to the people themselves to make something of that access or 
> money (and since I have neither of those things myself it doesn't 
> matter anyways).  So, as someone in academia, I have felt 
> compelled to think of myself as a "helper," working with community 
> groups and organizations to help them get what they want, on their 
> terms.  I do have some skills that I can give--research skills, 
> planning skills, facilitation skills.  Those often feel like small things, 
> and sometimes it is difficult to hang on to the big sense of 
> empowerment that Colleen's message expresses.  
> I also wonder if there is some distinction between the development 
> approach and the organizing approach expressed in the discussion 
> here.  The development approach is often described as bringing 
> things to people, which the organizing approach is often described 
> as people going out and getting those things.]  

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