Beyond Good Intentions
An introduction to community-led development – what is it, and why is it important that we listen first?
Hey there humans 👋
In this month’s dispatch, we’re diving deep into the world of community-led development. When it comes to doing good with and for others (whether at home or internationally), how can we listen and understand, empower communities to take the lead, and make the right change happen?
Read on for 5 things you need to know about community-led development, an exploration of ways that we can make a difference for people impacted by the recent Syrian and Turkish earthquakes, and a bunch of reads and resources in this space.
5 things we need to know about community-led development, by Jane Body - Co-Founder of Think Forward
Listen first. So many people enter the sector with good intentions, but very little understanding of the communities they want to help. When you take time to listen first, you'll find a wealth of local expertise with solutions that simply need resourcing
Interrogate the history of the sector. When many of the global institutions central to the sector were formed, many countries were still under colonial rule. A majority of the countries the aid system was built to help had no part in its creation. It's SO IMPORTANT to reflect on this and understand how that perpetuates a legacy of exclusion that still exists today
Embrace community-led practices. Those closest to their challenges will always be best placed to implement solutions. Partner, work together, sure! But always, always take your lead from the communities most impacted
Advocate for unrestricted funding. When we restrict funding, we restrict a community's ability to support themselves holistically. Unrestricted funding means that a community can prioritise their needs and respond to issues as they arise. No issue exists in its own bubble – everything is interconnected and funding practices should reflect that reality
Embrace complexity. This is my favourite piece of advice and the most important lesson I've learned. There is no silver bullet or blanket approach to fix all the world's biggest challenges. Every community requires solutions as unique as they are. It makes things complex, but it also makes things beautiful. There aren't any shortcuts to creating sustainable change, so we may as well slow down and do things right!
👉 Although Jane's thoughts and the resources she's shared relate mostly to the global development sector, the takeaways can be applied in most settings when working with communities
Recommended reads & resources
Check out this philanthropic funding model that goes hand in hand with trusting the decisions of community and grassroots leaders
Take a look at the Movement For Community-led Development which provides information and resources to help understand the topic
Listen to this podcast around why blanket approaches from the outside in don’t work, and how there needs to be flexibility for each community to do what works for them
Watch this TEDx talk on sustainable community development
Follow these two Insta accounts (@mama_hope and @thousand_currents) to better understand community-led development and build your knowledge about the topic
Have a read of this good guide to spot true community ownership, or this blog post about how community-led development positively impacts local economies
Taking action about the Syria & Turkey earthquake
Learn more about the crisis via the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Support Amal Al-Salihah – a local not-for-profit organisation based in Sydney which was founded by four Turkish migrants who provide support to their home country, or this grassroots campaign which is raising funds for AHBAP Association
Browse The Latch’s list of organisations that are directly supporting rescue efforts on the ground in Turkey and Syria, and several relief organisations seeking to raise funds to assist that were profiled by The Guardian
👉 Scammers often take advantage of disasters to pose as fake charities, so please be wary
Food for thought
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller, Author, Disability Rights Advocate and Political Activist
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb
"There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about" – Margaret J. Wheatley, Writer, Teacher and Speaker
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” – Mother Teresa
Good chats with good humans
Finally – a cheeky plug for Coffee Club ☕ From impact investing, to volunteering, mentoring and simply having interesting conversations, this is a space for likeminded people to find each other and opportunities to do good. Reach out to those listed for a 1-1 chat, and sign up if you’re open to grabbing a virtual or irl coffee.
Thanks for reading and sharing!
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