Group Leadership Skills

By Carolyn Chambers Clark | Go to book overview

12
When the Community Is the Group

COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION

Community organization is the process of building a broadbased constituency, involving citizens in a program, or creating a new, community-based program. Support for a program will logically emerge if community needs and concerns are understood and focused upon. Sometimes, issues for community organization surface naturally. You must be ready to mobilize the community around the issue of concern, set a meeting to discuss the situation, and involve the community's leaders to build momentum for programs. Community members often have different goals than you; it is often necessary to work on community issues as defined by the community in order to develop a meaningful organizational structure. Discussing drug or alcohol abuse or prevention of hazardous situations may be irrelevant to community members until they recognize the need for intervention.

At times, you may need to identify issues by drawing attention to existing community problems and providing statistics that may generate enough concern to bring community members to a meeting to discuss ways of addressing the problem.

Strong grassroots community organizations rarely spring up spontaneously. You may talk to community members informally for months before sufficient concern is generated to warrant a meeting. A crisis situation like a death or major injury is often the focus for immediate mobilization. Seize the moment when a crisis occurs and use it to mobilize community members.

Another useful way of involving the community is by developing a neighborhood festival or health fair. Many health issues involve (or should involve) children. Gain access to public schools. Schools in some communities, often in low-income ones,

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