Friday, January 29, 2010

Is Your Community Development True or False?

I’d like to clarify or expand here on a couple of points that reporter Sean Kelly had in his story published about me earlier this month in The News. In it, Kelly said, “Ferguson’s notion of community development has to do with planning along sectors.

To talk about planning along sectors can be confusing unless we define the term, 'sector'.(...continued) For example, when I managed employment centres, we talked about the three industry sectors – primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary sector includes agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining. The secondary sector of industry is manufacturing and processing while service production is the tertiary sector.

Then there are economists and government officials who often speak about the business sector. In references to the business sector, they are generally talking about the domestic economy when you exclude the economic activities of government, nonprofit organizations and private households.

However, the reference is different again when I speak of community sectors. I believe that every community has 12 sectors which are more or less developed. These are the sectors to which I refer. The 12 community sectors are: education, economy, culture and the arts, communications, transportation, health, social and community services, recreation and leisure, constitution and legal system, political institutions, community leaders, research and use of findings.

  • These are the 12 community sectors that we have either failed to develop or allowed to fall into a state of decline;
  • These are the 12 community sectors that we must begin to redevelop if we want to breathe new life back into our communities and cause them to flourish once again.

  • Kelly’s article spoke of the education sector. He noted my words that in former times our children used to learn as much from their parents and community role models as they did in school. Generally they came to adulthood with a choice – to stay and build a life in their own community or to move on. When we take students out of the community and put them in big bubble schools, they get their academics – but they’ve lost their community education and they’ve lost that life choice, to stay or go.

    So when I talk about the need to rebuild the education sector, it is not the school system but the community education to which I am referring. I think our schools do a reasonably good job of what they do. However, in addition, as part of our community development planning, we must find a way once again to develop and deliver a community education curriculum. What needs to be included in that curriculum? That will change over time but will respond to the question,

    What additional education does this student need to enable him/her to survive and thrive in his community?

    Kelly mentioned the community’s economy as another sector and that I said it is the one sector everyone seems to be preoccupied with these days. Ironically, our economy is the sector over which we have least control and thus with which we should be least concerned. An unhealthy economy can be fuelled by importing industry with tax breaks and large government loans – but only temporarily. That’s false development!

    A healthy economy is fuelled by synergies. These can be generated internally by developing the other 11 community sectors over which we have greater control. If we can develop the other 11 sectors where we do have some control, synergies will fuel and develop the economy naturally from within. That will be true development.The End - Return to main page

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