The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Creating A Community (Development) Garden

Community development and gardening have something in common.  They both require tending.  Indeed, gardening is a very useful analogy for the process of community development.

When we plunge our hoe into the earth to begin creating a garden what are we hoping to get?  Flourishing and nutritious vegetables, or maybe vibrant and colourful flowers.  Isn’t that what we would also like to achieve from community development?  Flourishing and vibrant communities.

Image courtesy of
What does a gardener do?  A gardener tills the soil, plants seeds, may add some fertiliser and keeps the soil watered.  Most of all, a gardener has faith that below the soil the seeds are germinating, sprouting and sending shoots towards the surface.  The gardener certainly doesn’t go digging it up to see whether they are sprouting or not.

The same is true of community development.  We must trust that communities have the willingness to sprout.  Those of us wanting to assist the process, to act as community development gardeners, can do so by; adding fertiliser (resources identified by the community itself), ensuring that the growing plants are not crowded out by weeds (negativity, busybodies, red-tape) and that the plants are watered and have access to sufficient sunlight (support, encouragement).

Like a gardener, those wishing to see community development flourish must also accept that the process will take time and that for possibly a considerable period we will see nothing at all at the surface.  All the development is taking place underground.

Community development does not nicely fit the annual short-term funding and accountability cycles of bureaucracies and governments.  Indeed, many of the issues that community development workers are facing are entrenched, generations old or complex.  Sometimes all three at the same time.  We need to accept that noticeable signs of development may not appear for 5, 10, 20 years or more.
But when the signs do appear the wait and the faith in the gardening process will have been worthwhile and the outcome more likely to be sustainable.

In our support and work  for community development then, let us be as gardeners.
“I believe we must learn to wait as we learn to create.  We have to patiently sow the seeds, assiduously water the earth where they are sown and give the plants the time that is their own.  One cannot fool a plant any more than one can fool history.”
Václav Havel, playwright, essayist and first President of the Czech Republic (following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia) reflecting on his part in the creation of the new democratic nation.


  1. Apt analogy...a community as to a garden. Great post sir.

  2. great post... this fits really well for me!

    1. Yep, its a metaphor that I don't think the CCC ever really understood, and why I was often a frustrated gardener.


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