The term “community development” became ghettoized and synonymous with low-income housing development for those disenfranchised by the mainstream economy and civic infrastructure. The class-based exit from older communities resulted in re-segregation and isolation both urban and rural.
Communities are complex systems but recent practice has effectively relegated them to the raw materials of opportunistic housing production in hollowed-out communities with subsidies that left the other elements of community health to their own devices. The housing production market was white-hot while community building experienced unprecedented market failure. It is imperative that we discard this destructive pattern. Accomplishing this requires courageous leadership and legions committed to the goal. It is time for a new movement to save communities–urban, suburban, rural and regional.
As a person committed to learning and sharing new ways to do the work of building communities, local economies while engaging the people who live there and facilitated by strong, competent and capable nonprofits, visionary government leaders, professionals and new actors– philanthropy, new forms of entities and funding.
After the debacle of the last 8 years and decades of failed programs purported improve economic, educational, health and political disparities among the poor of all colors and ethnic backgrounds., we now have an affirmative duty and opportunity to build and execute new and sustainable models and strategies of community economic development. It is a big tent–big enough for seasoned professionals, innovative, new thinkers, young professionals, and venture capitalists focused on sustainable outcomes based on systems analysis and data-driven approaches. If not now, when? If not us, who?