welcome: language, CO and CD

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Thu Jul 31 12:06:37 CDT 2003

[ed:  thanks to Jennifer for contributing to the conversation]

From: Jennifer Gifford <jgifford at uwcact.org>

This exchange reminds me of a magazine clipping I posted on my 
cubicle wall to remind me of a personal distinction that I try to carry 
with me in my work...it's simply credited as an "African maxim" so 
unfortunately I don't know its origin but it says:  

"If you come to help me, then you waste your time, but if you come 
because your liberation is tied up with mine, then we can both 


> 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 
> Olson 
> **************************
> From: Katherine Turner <kturner12 at rogers.com>
> Hi,
> 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 
> housing.
> 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.
> Katherine 
> ********************************
> > 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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