This paper is presented as part of the Working Papers series for COMM-ORG: The On-line Conference on Community Organizing and Development. Copyright is held by the author. To cite, use: [author] [date] [title], paper presented on COMM-ORG: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing and Development.

Community Organizing, Building and Developing:
Their Relationship to Comprehensive Community Initiatives


Douglas R. Hess

June 1999 Version
 comments and enquiries welcomed
© Douglas R. Hess 1999
All rights reserved

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Table of Contents

Author's Biography

Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction to The Problem
Outline of the Paper

Chapter 2: Classifying Approaches to Change

Past Attempts at Classifying Community Change Practices
Selecting Community Change Practices to Examine
Bases for Distinguishing Among Community Change Practices

Chapter 3: Community Development, Organizing and Building

Community Organizing
    Brief Background of Community Organizing
    Comparing Community Organizing Against the Bases 
Community Building 
    Brief Background of Community Building 
    Comparing Community Building Against the Bases 
Community Development 
    Brief Background of Community Development 
    Comparing Community Development Against the Bases 
Do these Differences Matter? 
    Community Building and Community Organizing 
    Community Building and Community Developing 
    Community Organizing and Community Developing 

Chapter 4: Comprehensive Community Initiatives 

Brief History Comprehensive Community Initiatives 
Who is Involved in CCIs? 
Comparing CCIs Against the Bases 
How Can Organizing Help CCIs? 

Chapter 5: Recommendations and Conclusion 

Towards a More Comprehensive Relationship Between CCIs and Other Practices 

Appendix A 

Abstract      to the table of contents

Community organizing, community development and community building are just a few of the names applied to the various attempts to spur participatory community change at the local level in distressed communities. Despite several decades of well documented and conscientious field work with various forms of community intervention, there remains much confusion over the distinguishing features of these various approaches to community change and, hence, confusion over the varying outcomes these approaches engender.

As concern over the persistence of poverty continues, foundations, local governments and other entities are launching a new set of interventions collectively called Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCI).  Adherents of the CCI model contend that coordinating several service and development approaches while adding a more participatory process for planning this coordination and its content will tackle what appears to be the nearly intractable problems of poverty.  However, without a firmer grasp of the characteristic features and outcomes of the various forms of community practice, these new initiatives do not appear to be as comprehensive as supporters claim.  Without an appreciation of the differences between approaches to community change, a truly holistic approach to tackling poverty will elude practitioners and communities.

Preface  to the table of contents

"People tend to work with three different models in this field, and they tend to think their model is the only one that works. One is the collaborative model, where you bring all the different stakeholders together under the assumption that they all have some common interest at heart, and they all want to do the right thing, and theyíll come together and do it and everybody will be happy. Then thereís the professional planners model, where you bring together experts and planners to analyze the problem and come up with solutions. And because itís all so logical and rational, everybody is going to agree to it and march off to do whatís right. Then youíve got the conflict model, where the assumption is that the haves and the have-nots possess diametrically opposed interests, and if the have-nots are ever going to get anything from the haves, it will only be through conflict and struggle.

"But very few people realize you need all three models to make change. And if I could go back and start over . . . Iíd have been much clearer up front about the importance of using all three models, and reconciling them."

-Otis Johnson, Ph.D.
reflecting on his work with the
Chatham-Savannah (GA) Youth Futures Authority
(quoted in Walsh, 1997a, p.38)

Acknowledgements      to the table of contents

I would like thank those teachers, colleagues and others who have taught me, formally and informally, over the past three decades: from Iowa to Haiti to Brooklyn, Little Rock, the District of Columbia, Baltimore and all the places in between. I am sure I was a difficult student and apprentice so I appreciate their commitment. In particular, thanks to my parents for their loving support and for their life long commitment to teaching as a way of bettering the world. Special thanks to my classmates at the Institute for Policy Studies at the Johns Hopkins University (particularly Barbara Dannhausen), my instructors and directors (especially Drs. Stefan Toepler, Helmut Anheier, and Lester Salamon). Finally, thanks to the fellowship of community change activists, organizers and innovators I have worked with and for over the past decade.

Author's Biography      to the table of contents

Douglas R. Hess was born in Oceola, Iowa in 1968. Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology conferred from Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa in 1991. Master of Arts degree in policy studies from Institute of Policy Studies, Johns Hopkins University in 1999. Employment includes work as field organizer, campaign research assistant, and project director with numerous community organizing, organized labor and civil rights advocacy organizations including: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Project Vote, New Party, Washington Office on Haiti, International Liaison Office of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, and Human Rights Campaign. Working and living in Haiti included supervising a home for 30 street children (1988-89), working with local community organizers and leading several delegations of journalists, refugee lawyers and human rights advocates to Haiti including an official election observer delegation for the nationís first free elections in 1990.

Contents      Chapter 1      Chapter 2      Chapter 3      Chapter 4      Chapter 5      Apps/Notes/Refs