Reflections on Kretzmann and McKnight’s Building Communities from the Inside Out (pp. 171-376)

Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) cover all aspects of community building from individuals to associations to local institutions and taking those assets and rebuilding and mobilizing.  I may have reiterated this before, but while this book is powerful, it is large and not portable and there are no printable forms.  Since its printing in 1993, it has not been revised and it has not been released in a portable, e-book format, which is necessary for communities to facilitate many ideas in this valuable resource.

Local institutions are assessed for their potential for change and revitalization of the community.  The example used in Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) is the Parks department.  In the case of my earlier example of the organization I am involved with, Unconquered Minds, the parks in the Miami-Dade area are closed to the local residents and, especially, the children in those neighborhoods unless a membership fee is paid.  The majority of the residents in these neighborhoods are low income people of color.  The authors go on to explain that the parks (amongst several examples, even those that seem unlikely candidates for cooperation, including Police and Hospitals) should act as a catalyst, as powerful community builders, uniting associations, citizen groups, individuals, and the private sector.  Reading this book has made it abundantly clear that Unconquered Minds is vitally needed in Opa-Locka and in the surrounding communities of Miami and a committee within Unconquered Minds is needed to reach out to these organizations, begin some relationships, strengthen others, and begin organizing a revitalization process that utilizes the principles and outlines in this valuable volume.

There are also a lot of questions that need to be asked in a rebuilding process.  In addition to everything that Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) offer, they provide initial questions to spark conversation that will also spark additional questions not included here.  The first key question that will spark many others is, “How might community builders recognize and capture the full economic development potential of all of our local institutions and organizations?” in addition to many others, exploring the connections between questions and the various public and private institutions, individuals, physical and personal assets, and what they can bring to the table.  All of this activity encourages local investment from all parties.  While the participation of some may be deemed self-serving, as in some local corporations, but consider that their involvement helps everyone in the community and when that involvement helps everyone, it helps those that feel selfish in their motives.  In this case, the others involved in the process are there to keep self-serving participation from also running rampant.

But how to mobilize?  Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) suggest that one way to mobilize an entire community would begin with five basic steps and would begin to look like, “mapping completely the capacities and assets of individuals, citizens’ associations, and local institutions,” among other steps.  I don’t need to ask why more communities do not have this book in key collections, libraries, offices, and on desks, but why don’t they? The last section pulls it all together and includes advice even for those that are interested in helping, funding sources that allow for communities to apply for funding from these helpers and the most efficient ways to do that in the form of proposal outlines.  I’ll reiterate here, that Kretzmann and McKnight (1993), if they are not necessarily in need of a revised edition with updated resources, an eBook version is sorely needed with additional duplicable forms for use.

 

References:

Kretzmann, J. P., & McKnight, J. L. (1993). Building communities from the inside out. Chicago, IL: ACTA Publications. (pp. 171-376)

 

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