Welcome to Community Development and Project Planning!
Sometimes, it feels as though we work in an environment where we are responding to external demands and pressures. This task-based existence can keep us planning, implementing and evaluating projects from behind our office desk and leave little time for us to engage in efforts that strengthen community self-determination capabilities and build community capital.
In the coming months, the ANA Western Training and Technical Assistance Center will be sharing information on how to engage in community building and development activities that create community capital as well as provide information that can be used in developing and implementing projects that benefit the community and community members. We’ll also assign homework that you can take with you to implement these concepts in your communities. So, be prepared to fully immerse yourself in the planning process.
The following describes how we will move through the discussion:
We will start this series by discussing definitions of community. “Community “can mean (among other things) a set of people in a geographic area, a group of people who share common cultural beliefs or the employees of an organization.
Then, we will look at ways of reaching out to a community to explore what issues are important to its members. We’ll consider ways to assess and define the long-range goals that the community would like to achieve and to identify assets that can be built upon to address those issues. Then we’ll study the “Project Steering Committee” as a tool for coordinating and encouraging community involvement in the planning process and as a technique for building partnerships for resolving issues identified through community engagement.
We’ll also discuss how to evaluate a community’s readiness to address an issue and strategies for building awareness and readiness, when necessary. Communities and community members can be reluctant to acknowledge such issues as domestic violence and sexual abuse exist in their community.
After we have discussed strategies for involving the community and potential partners in defining the project focus, we will share information on key project elements to design projects that improve areas of community concern. We’ll show how the inter-relationships of those elements is structured in a well-designed project. We will discuss strategies for involving the community throughout this project development process.
Project elements that will be discussed in detail include:
- Long-term Goals. What is the best possible condition that we could describe for our families, for our organization, or for dimensions within our community.
- Current Community Condition. The barrier that stands between the community and a long-term goal, and how to demonstrate this with local and regional data.
- Project Goal. The improved condition that the project will create. We will talk about engaging with the project’s beneficiary community in developing the project goal as it must describe an improved condition that will be important to them.
- Objectives, Outcomes and Outputs. (Sometimes known as “…oh, oH, OH!”) These describe positive measurable changes that reduce the condition standing between the community and long-term goal, as well as the tangible products of an objective.
- Activities are the essential tasks that, when completed, achieve project objectives and outcomes and produce outputs.
- Contingency Plans. All projects have activities or components that are of critical importance to a successful project. Contingency plans ensure that, no matter the setback, these activities and components are completed.
- Sustainability Strategy. This doesn’t mean the entire project will continue, indefinitely. It means that the positive measurable changes created by the project will continue after the project’s completion.
But wait, there’s more! We’ll also be sure to cover such captivating project design elements as:
- Organizational Capacity
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Budget narrative