|Source: tuchodi (Creative Commons)
The basis of any good community development work is and always has been in the building and maintenance of good relationships. When you think about it, it makes absolute sense. Community development is work that is people-oriented, persons-centred (if you like). Only secondarily is it about sitting down by yourself and writing reports, devising plans or going over a budget.
First and foremost it is about people.
When healthy relationships are built we simultaneously build into the social structure beneficial values such as trust, confidence and understanding.
With trust comes openness, transparency and letting go.
With confidence comes learning, creativity and empowerment.
With understanding comes acceptance, tolerance and humbleness.
All these values are vital in community development, and they come from something as simple as building relationships.
And how do we build these healthy relationships? No differently than we do with our partner, spouse, parents, children, family or significant others. We want what is best for that person, we want for that person to feel valued, appreciated and loved. It is no different for a community. Just a few more people involved.
The indigenous people of the country in which I was born, the Māori, have a saying which is well known and widely quoted:
“He aha te mea nui?Its as short and as simple as that: relate, relate, relate.
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”
(What is the greatest thing?
It is people, it is people, it is people.)