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.

Monday 14 January 2013

Can Community Development Save Us?

Society is unhealthy.  We are ill.  We suffer from debilitating inequality, global terrorism, wars, malnutrition, mistrust and doubt.  Our environments are filling with CO2  emissions, spilt oil and toxins.  World-wide we demand greater transparency and accountability from our elected leaders, yet we trust them less and less.

We need professional intervention.  Which of the many professions can we look to?  The political or legal profession?  Both are too enamoured with an adversarial approach.  Business and financial leaders?  The last couple of years should shy us off that road.  Academia perhaps?  Certainly academics have supplied us with compelling analysis and information, but lack the capacity to translate that into a common vocabulary or action.  Perhaps professionals from within the sporting or musical arenas can inspire us?  Notwithstanding the worthy efforts of the likes of Bono or Sir Bob Geldof, celebrities have not been able to initiate widespread change beyond big-scale, high-profile events that come and go like, well - pop songs.

The profession of Community Development has many attributes going for it that other professions do not.  Community Development professionals:
  • Attempt to work in a consensus model, respecting the contributions of all.
  • Seek to empower people no matter what their status.
  • Espouse a vision of equity, social justice, respect and diversity.
  • Understand the connections between people and their environment.
  • Work in an holistic manner.
  • Take a bottom-up, rather than top-down approach.
  • Realise that community development requires a long-term, sustainable strategy.
  • Recognise that in order to solve many of our problems, we need to look for underlying causes and not just treat symptoms.
  • Understand the need to have a big picture, yet are able to work at a local level.
  • Reject the notion of the “expert” and put their faith in the collective wisdom of local communities.
Of course, the political and legal professions may embody some of these attributes, as also do some business and financial leaders.  My contention is that, community development may be one of the only professions that can lay claim to espousing all of these attributes, and this is what gives the profession of Community Development an unique place in the future of humanity and the earth.

Let us not get complacent however.  Professionals acting within a community development framework have some serious work and thinking to do.  To help guide us through the many and complex issues facing humanity over the coming decades community development practitioners must think about:
  • Becoming community educators, enabling communities to understand the forces at work in society that have shaped our predicaments.
  • Furthermore, helping communities to understand that global forces are having serious impacts upon local lifestyles and vice versa.
  • Enabling communities to understand that climate change and environmental breakdown will impact seriously on the lifestyles that we have become used to.
  • Also enabling communities to understand that corporate globalisation seriously impacts upon the wellbeing of local communities throughout the world.
  • So much so that, community development/education professionals will need to understand and be able to translate the message that our current lifestyles are no longer sustainable.
  • Assisting communities to become resilient in the face of possible breakdown.
  • Helping communities establish alternative economies, workplaces, transport, agriculture, energy production, leisure and recreation.
  • Empowering communities to discover forms of governance and public decision-making that encompass diversity and broad participation without giving rise to party politics or career politicians.
Can we do it?  Can community development professionals rise to the challenge?  Hopefully, we have not become too complacent and that we have not bought into the idea that community development is nothing more than developing communities within the current paradigm.

The role of community development professionals must be to act as change agents to help society reject its current unhealthy lifestyle and find a way of living that is sustainable, just and equitable.


  1. It would be so nice if it would work, but not sure as many people like to be on top the totem pole and those already there don't want to give up the power. Sad how we are digging ourselves further into a hole with all the crap we get bombarded with each day.

    1. Yes, I agree Pat, it would be nice. Sometimes (as FFK said) you have to dream. Whatever we do, first it arises in our minds. The more we keep writing about, talking about and acting upon our dreams the greater the possibility that they will become reality. For our and future generations we have to do so to (as you say) get ourselves out of the hole we are digging.


This blogsite is dedicated to positive dialoque and a respectful learning environment. Therefore, I retain the right to remove comments that are: profane, personal attacks, hateful, spam, offensive, irrelevant (off-topic) or detract in other ways from these principles.