It is possible to understand the concept of community through a multiplicity of definitions. The term itself has been in use for a long time now. It helps us understand the whole concept through a range of senses.
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From one angle, we view the concept of community as a ‘common people’ who are distinguished from those of rank. As such, this group of commons then defines itself as an organized society.
That is, the people of one district. District here will mean anything from a small area or locality to a large area of residence. The distinguishing quality of holding a common thing of interest between the members of the said locality is another distinct feature of community, which helps a person to understand further.
This is most evident in a community of interest or community of goods. To this end, therefore, the said group of people is a community because it shares common identity and their characteristics are similar in terms of its aspirations and activities (Kenny, 2010).
In the analysis of the Peake Estate outlined in the extract by Kenny (2010), the various aspirations and activities that the community members are engaged in, clearly, define it as a community build under a multiplicity of functions and interest.
As such, in clearly defining the true nature of the community, we cannot use just one point of view in its definitions. What emerges from the analysis of this community is that it has all the elements that qualify it to be viewed as a community of interest, locality and culture. Peake estate is defined this way by first looking at the fact that, these people are residing in one area-this is a high-rise council estate in a low in come suburb in a capital city.
The fact that these people live in a low suburb in a capital city gives them a unique characteristic that then clearly defines them as a community of locality.
Their status of low-income earners then cements their definitions. We realize that apart from being a community of culture, the community can still be viewed as community of interest.
Why is this so? This is because their aspirations and interest are focused on one common goal of improving their locality by acquiring jobs and learning how to work with computers.
The people are joined together by the need to work together and eradicate crime in their locality, be able to educate their children (Christensen et al. 2003).
A deep look at the nature of the community described by Kenny, we realize that because of the cultural diversity characterizing this community, characteristics evidenced by various dynamics of the community such as crime, unemployment and absenteeism from school the community cannot be defined as a community of culture.
The residents of Peake estate community are aimed at achieving development in their locality. Together with the community organizer Paolo, they seek to develop their various areas of life.
As such, the type of development pursued by this community is seen not to be one sided but multifaceted. Why is this so? The answer to this is seen by reviewing their aspirations and activities.
The community wants to eradicate crime, move their children from the streets-social development. The community wants to be able to work comfortably among the various cultural underpinning that characterize it.
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This too, is social development (Julian, 2000). Peake estate has high rate of unemployment. This is the main reason the children do not go to schools and are in the streets and the young men are bored because they lack anything to do. As such the need to come up with projects to enable the community members earn a living stipulates this as an economic development.
This is further proved by the pursuit of Paolo the community organizer in soliciting for the donation of computers to start a computer-learning project. This is directed at killing two birds with one stone-that is offer the community a source of livelihood and gives the youngsters a tool of killing their boredom. This is an activity of interest (Effland, 1998).
A keen analysis of the Peake estate reveals a number of development principles that have been used by Paolo and the rest of the community on making the various developments interest a success.
These principles as if they emerge include the value principle. It has generally agreed that community development work to support groups, persons and even organizations.
This is done because of certain values. As such, the core values of a community in its development define the principles as discussed here below; these principles of community development include; social justice, learning and working as one, personal determination, sustaining communities, participation and reflective practice (Putnam, 2000).
The pursuance of development principles in community development ensures a successful attainment of the community goals. These principles act as the guidelines to achieving the aspired development.
They also come about as the road map to sustainable community development. In reassessing the development involving Peake estate, all the development principles outlined here above come out clearly. All have been taken in to consideration but it is only some that have stood over the others in ensuring develop of the community.
As such, the principle of working together has emerged over the others. Paolo the community organizer has enabled the residents of this estate in believing that working and learning together is an important ingredient in achieving collective and wholesome development.
Paolo has demonstrated that collective working together is effective in mobilizing the community members in removing their prejudice based on cultural diversity and instead rechanneling their energy I n the pursuance of a common developmental goal.
This is as if they did in successful developing the computer learning a teaching project. In doing this, the community has used this principle in developing a culture of effective decision-making and accountability.
This has enabled the community in taking in to consideration all aspects of community in its development. These have included eradicating crime, neutralizing cultural tensions and job creation.
In achieving this, the principle has enabled the community embers in effectively sharing good practices and experiences.this has enabled the members of peake estate learn from each other especially in the development of the computer learning project.
For example, the foreigner project designer uses his knowledge as a graphic designer in helping the growth of the project. He shares his knowledge with the other community members and this enables them work even better as one unit focused to a seen goal of development.
In viewing the nature of community development in regards to the Peake estate and the role of the development principles in achieving the desired development levels, the principle of participation has emerged high. This principle aims at promoting individuals participation as well as the community.
This specifically aims at those who are marginalized. In the recognition of this principle, Paolo in Kenny’s extract has showed the application of this principle.
The principle is useful it plays an effective role in involving all the members of the community in the development of the computer projects where all the members old and young have been involved in ensuring the success of the project by the knowledgeable sharing their useful knowledge and the young teaching the old on how to use computers.
The old here are the marginalized as far as computer usage is concerned. In order to pin down the underlying setbacks in ensuring community development of the Peake estate, Paolo first seeks to identify and ratify these setbacks.
He does this by first recognizing the challenging barriers to effective and full participation in the whole process of community development. This he solves by realizing that there is a gap between the old and the young generation.
To solve this problem, he brings out the fact that while the old have no skills in computer skills, but want to learn, the young have the skills and want an avenue to discharge their skills. This in turn creates a coincidence of interest which then he uses to ensure that the two groups work together (Putnam, 2000).
Participation principles also call for the active participation in supporting the community in gainful acquisition of essential skills that enables the members of the community in actively participating in the community’s developmental endeavors.
In our case here, the efforts for every member of the community to have knowledge in computer application demonstrates this. The knowledge acquired by the members of the community enables them in actively developing the computer project into an income generating investment.
The contracts have enabled the community members to think broad and become innovative. They can look at a situation and determine the needs of the society and from then onwards they come up with community-based projects to be undertaken.
The contracts have also lead to the creation of a better working environment for environs through the development of infrastructure therefore enabling the community members to engage in income generating ventures, which will support them and enable them to maintain their standard of living.
Participation of the community member in the subprojects created a sense of ownership among the members thus creating sustainability of the project even in later years. This is quite a positive move in the right direction. It creates some form of ownership and acceptance. This is especially true when the whole process is open and accountable and recognizes merit.
The above phenomenon has been achieved through the development of social structures that has enabled effective community participation in the development process.
The above-mentioned social structures involve the integration of the various cultures in community unity. The structures in our case of Peake estate have been built by ensuring cultural linkages, generational unity and the building of a spirit of hard work and efficiency among all the community members.
The building of the above social structures is based on the sharing of good practices among the community members and this ensures that they learn from one another, like evidenced by the development of the computer project (Kenny, 2011).
In achieving success in community development, all or most of the principles of community development should be taken into consideration.
However, a deep look in our community development case study, we realize that a number of principles do not get application. On note, here is the principle of reflective practice. Even though the community contracting has so many successes, it has failed in certain aspects. It is unreasonable to allocate tasks to groups that do not have prior experience on a particular field.
This results to poor judgment on what needs to be done and poor implementation of the project. As a result, there is an increase in wastage resource. Secondly, community contracting is community based and cannot be used to implement change on a nationwide basis as a result this pulls back development in that particular community.
This principle aims at supporting and promoting collective and individual learning through practice and reflection. In our case study, the changing of practice is not in response to reflection outcome.
It is highly based on the need to quickly escape from lack of employment, eradicate crime and be able to educate the children. The outcome of the projects initiated is not reflected on the outcome.
Reflective practice principle can be used in community development by enabling the community members and the community developers in establishing the constraints facing the community development process.
Like mentioned here above, such a principle will enable the community developers and the community at large in establishing the likely problem facing the development project such as lack of funds or the computers (Lenski, 1974).
In our earlier definition of the term community, we defined it as a group of people who have one thing in common. This common factor like we started by seeing could be based on the interest and goals that the said group of people pursue.
As such, this group of people then works together for a common goal as an organized society. The above definition when weighed against our case study of the Peake state community seems to augment well.
The Peake estate community through its working of the computer project and its aim of eradicating crime and poverty shows all the characteristics of an organized community.
Community development as a whole involves a wide range of area to study. The study of community development can be studied in the view of its role in achieving social equity, reducing crime or achieving social economic advancement.
In this regard therefore, a further study should be made in order to establish the various areas in the community that can be advanced for the development of the said community.
This could involve the role played by community development in achieving the overall national development. Community development should be viewed in the right of how different communities can relate with each other in achieving combined development in their various aspects of their lives.
In this regard, the Peake estate in collaboration with other surrounding communities should work to reduce crime collectively, promote education for their children as well as come up with projects that can improve their economic standards (Kenny, 2011).
Christensen, K. et al. (2003) Encyclopedia of Community. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Effland, R. (1998) The Cultural Evolution of Civilizations. London: Mesa Community College.
Julian, B. (2000) Community Development Principles and Practical Actions. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Kenny, S. (2011) Developing Communities for the Future: Community Development in Australia. Australia: Thomas Nelson.
Lenski, G. (1974) Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. New York: McGraw- Hill, Inc.
Putnam, D. (2000) The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Routledge.
Putnam, R. D. (2000) Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.