Graeme reflected on his work with communities in Scotland and Australia and critically considered:
“If I knew then what I know now how might I do things differently?”
In addition to working in some of the most challenging neighbourhoods of Scotland Graeme has also negotiated working between 5 Churches, 2 Denominations and a City Council at once! In Australia Graeme has been a Results Based Accountability Project Manager with Community Centres SA and has worked with Uniting Care Wesley Bowden.
Some of Graeme’s most significant learnings
- The importance of letting people craft and tell their own stories. This is an incredibly healing and empowering part of Community Development and we rob people by no asking or doing it for them.
- The importance of Collective Impact and working together towards an end. When working across different entities (eg. City Councils and Churches) it is very important to have well articulated shared purposes (end goals) but to also actively value different means of working towards those ends. The fact that different groups will have different ways of doing things doesn’t have to matter so much if we all know we’e working towards same end.
- The importance of being aware of power. Often people don’t have a critical appreciation for power within the Church (as I previously discussed here). Understanding power struggles for what they are, rather than denying them, allows us to address them and the damage they can cause. This is particularly interesting as it pertains to sharing space when a Church is involved with a community. There is a need for fluid use of space because space effects people’s behaviour. Graeme noted the importance of giving complete (respectful) ownership of the space to each group for the time that they use it.
- The importance of being truly accountable to do what we’re saying we’re going to do. It is easy for us to do lots of “stuff” without knowing if we are actually making a difference. When we do this there is often a lot of assumed satisfaction and a lot of busyness. But Is anyone actually better off?To determine the true measure of our success we need to be able to ask ourselves:
- What difference do we want to see? ( and where are we starting from?)
- What would that actually look like?
- How do we actually measure that?
One final tip: When asking these questions don’t use a survey if you can possibly avoid it. If there is NO other way to get the data then:
A) Ask powerful questions. Most people are people-pleasing and want to give you the answers you want to hear. Keep this in mind when constructing questions
B) Don’t only survey those showing up- they like you and they like rocking up… Or they wouldn’t be there!
Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the box below.
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