Put the “COMMUNITY” Back into Community Development

I’ve lived my life in service to others specifically in the field of community development and public service.  I believe that for too long (the last 16 years) the “community” has been forgotten in the community development world;  that world was largely appropriated by runaway mortgage markets, unscrupulous players preying on unsuspecting and uninformed families and individuals, over-dependence on tax credit finance and a focus on housing production.  The term “community development” became synonymous with low-income housing production of low-income housing units funded by tax credit and mortgage markets controlled by large institutional players focused on profits. 

Communities are complex systems but recent practice has effectively relegated them to a collection of housing units and subsidies that left the rest of the elements of the system to its own devices.  We see how that worked out for us (yes that was sarcastic).  It is more than time for a change.  I want to be part of making that change happen.

I am committed to learning and sharing new ways to do the work of building community led by the the people who live there and facilitated by strong, competent and capable nonprofit, for profit and government partners.  After the debacle of the last 8 years and seeing decades of progress in communities of color and low income devastated, we now have an opportunity to build and explore new and sustainable models.  It is a big tent–big enough for seasoned professionals and innovative new voices and a approaches. 

 The foreclosure and financial crises were excruciating.  However, they have opened the way for new ideas, innovation from the ground up and an opportunity to develop and nurture new practitioners.  Let’s not wait too long.  A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

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