Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 11:12:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Doug Hess <>
Subject: Comments on Working Paper--DSNI

I wanted to give a brief comment on: "Transforming Urban Regimes - A Grassroots Approach to Comprehensive Community Development:  The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative."

I was happy to see a paper that discussed the organizing side of DSNI.  I have often wondered what it means that CDC people claim DSNI as an example of their work which can include organizing, CCI people claim DSNI as one of their successes and here DSNI starts to look like what I would define as organizing (and I have a pretty narrow definition of organizing). (I have just started looking through the Streets of Hope book myself.)

I would be interested in hearing from others how they define CCI. Just how comprehensive is comprehensive.  It seems the DSNI was able to do comprehensiveness best, by not being comprehensive, but by stiking to organizing and only managing the takeover of policy/governance re the land at issue.  (And it seems to me that takeover of policy arena or a governance function is a bit different than takeover of a development or service project.)

Doug Hess
306 E. 32nd St., Apt. I
Baltimore, MD 21218
phone: 410-366-9679

From: (Brien R. O'Toole)
Subject: Re: Comments on DSNI paper

>From: Doug Hess <>
>I wanted to give a brief comment on: "Transforming Urban Regimes - A
>Grassroots Approach to Comprehensive Community Development:  The Dudley
>Street Neighborhood Initiative."
>I would be interested in hearing from others how they define CCI. Just how
>comprehensive is comprehensive?

_Voices from the Field_, The Aspen Institute takes up this question.  My recollection is that "comprehensive" is really meant to suggest what the initiative is not, i.e., narrowly programmatic.  Ideally, the particular "product(s)" of an initiative, what people go after, is/are supposed to be chosen by participants based upon their ideas of what makes sense.  The CII is not, theoretcially, foreordained to be for example a housing effort, a social services response, or an economic development initiative, though it may come to focus on any or all of these things in fact.   As a contrast, the word is useful.  Without reference to what the CCI is not however, the word starts to be less helpful because as we all know well successful organizing efforts generally start not comprehensively, but very particularly.

A second way the term functions is to describe the direction that CCI sponsors hope the inititive goes as the capacities of leaders and other local assets grow. Again like organizing, the idea is that starting from a specific issue or project, groups take on a broader array of issues as their confidence and competence expands.   _Voices_ spends time on what it calls the "product/process" tension, i.e., balancing the need to get things done that demonstrate the promise of the effort with attention to doing it with enough "process"  that participants develop through the experience of the initiative.

I think these ideas of balancing, working on a community-driven, rather agency-driven issue, and of growing toward a broader agenda  are familiar enough to most organizers, though because it's all framed from the point of view of the funder or theoretician they do seem fairly alien to the realm of real communities.

Brien R. O'Toole
Bronx, New York