”The development of a community is something that should be embraced and cherished. The building of a healthy, vibrant, and functional community can lead to great benefits for all involved; however, it requires work. You are capable of creating lasting positive change in your local environment by focusing on the essential elements that form strong communities: collaboration, diversity, shared purpose, and effective communication.
Collaboration is an important factor when developing strong communities; it means working together towards common goals, with contributions from all individuals coming together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. This allows people from different backgrounds to get involved in their community’s projects or initiatives, which fosters trust between members as well as an understanding that outside perspectives are valuable assets in problem-solving scenarios—all components necessary for successful completion, regardless if you’re working on city projects or just trying to make your neighbourhood cleaner. In order for collaborative efforts to be successful, though, everyone must understand what needs doing clearly and why they should contribute, so communicating effectively throughout the process becomes key—more so now than ever, given our current circumstances regarding social distancing measures due to COVID-19, which affects how we interact physically with one another while still needing support systems around us operating remotely.
Having diverse representation within any kind of organization (community included) ensures that varied opinions are heard—this helps prevent group-think mentality, where differing positions aren’t taken into account, leading to potential solutions being overlooked because they don’t fit certain standards set prior, meaning that long-term effectiveness decreases significantly over time due to exclusionary tactics taking place, even unintentionally, at times. Making sure multiple voices have the opportunity to lend their ideas increases the likelihood that better decisions are made, since more angles are brought to the table to be discussed further, thus increasing efficiency and productivity overall, allowing for a stronger outcome to be achieved at a faster rate, decreasing the chances of negative results occurring that might affect those part of the particular project team either directly or indirectly.
In addition, having a purpose behind the actions others take is able to bring about a sense of unity amongst participants during any endeavour, no matter the size or scale of the task at hand. It makes it easier to connect people on the same page, merging individual actions into a larger collective effort producing an end result bigger and better than previously thought possible without such combined strength. It would not have been achievable, neither quickly nor satisfactorily—knowing specific objectives and expectations beforehand also gives a clear direction to go in, allowing people to help stay organized and productive instead of getting sidetracked on unrelated items, which can happen, ultimately detracting focus away from the main target meant to be accomplished first and foremost. An example could be setting up a fundraiser, an art class, an event, a neighbourhood park renovation, etc.—whatever the idea may be, aiming to accomplish something and giving context before beginning prepares everything else that comes afterwards and sets the tone for the necessary commitment level required to ensure success for each respective endeavour. The occasion demands it.
Effective communication is perhaps the most integral component in constructing and forming a good, solid foundation for any type of area, whether rural or urban, smaller or expansive in nature. In fact, it is often overlooked and neglected, to the detriment of the entire group, as it cannot be stressed enough the importance of investing in proper channels for relaying thoughts and messages efficiently, ensuring accurate information reaches the right places at the allocated times, thus maximizing the potential benefit to receive in return for investments made. If everybody agrees and an agreed-upon action plan is followed and carried out accordingly, it is safe to say almost nothing gets done without it. Lack thereof can break down barriers preventing progress, and that can be prevented, potentially enhancing lives in many ways, imagined large and small. Determining clarity and understanding, as well as mutual respect between parties, truly builds and strengthens relationships and bonds, ties that foster growth alike, so much needed in found struggling areas across the continent and the world. At some point in life…so speaking in a constructive manner creates opportunities, opens doors, encourages participation, and leads to improving the quality of life in general. Speaking—that’s the whole goal here!
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Guest Post by Stephanie Hampton