One of the better and more practical resources on community collaboration that I have utilized over the years is a little monograph published by the Wilder Foundation titled Collaboration: What Makes it Work (authors Paul W. Mattessich and Kirsten M. Johnson). I’ve long appreciated the practical advice, drawn from the research literature and from observed practice, and how well the authors conveyed that information concisely, in a 75 page handbook. So I was very pleased to see a new, third edition of the handbook was published last year, and I am happy to report that the new edition is even better. Here I highlight some of its key contributions, while offering my strong endorsement and recommendation for anyone doing boundary-crossing work to get your own copy of this resource.
Like the previous edition, the new third edition is focused on collaboration as “a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more organization to achieve common goals.” The book is organized around 22 collaboration success factors, grouped within six categories of Continue Reading
As 2017 begins, preparation is on my mind. My husband and I are expecting our first child, and we’re thinking about the preparations required for the new baby. Some days, we feel dizzy when we consider the areas where we need more training and education to feel truly prepared to welcome and care for this new family member.
Significant preparation is also required for meaningful community engagement. I’ve written before about the importance of going beyond asking residents for their feedback and input, and instead shifting the power balance and engaging community as equal partners and experts in work that affects them. In my work with MDC, I am working together with other colleagues to review best practice on parent leadership programs–programs that prepare parents to be strong advocates for themselves, their children, and their communities. We have identified strong programs: Parent and Family Advocacy Support Training (PFAST) and Parent As Leaders Academy (PAL) are offered here in Durham by the Strengthening Families Coalition and are focused on school-based advocacy, and Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (APOD) is a national popular education model that cultivates advocacy and leadership with Latino families. Continue Reading
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’” As humans we instinctually want to help people. We do it every day… give a friend a lift the airport, watch a neighbor’s pet while they are on vacation, or volunteer for a local cause. We don’t do these things for money, we do these things because we know it will make us feel good, and it will strengthen our friendships. Then why is it so much harder to get people to help society on a larger scale and strengthen a community through projects?
Community leaders across the country are often discouraged about the community projects they lead saying, “I have to do all the work by myself”. These leaders often take on the majority of the responsibilities and drive to see the endeavor finished. No one should feel that they have to shoulder the burden alone when it comes to community activism, but sadly that is how things get done in most communities. You do it, or it doesn’t get done. Fortunately, there is a trend that allows community leaders to flourish, let other community members lead, and not have the project get stifled in the muck and mire.