Civic Intelligence and Community Building
We probably need to talk about the various relevant interpretations of community building. This should include traditional community development (and "development" generally). It should also include online communities, research & action networks, and new varieties of communities that we can conceptualize that are based to a large degree on civic intelligence.
Civic intelligence promotes the understanding that each of us are responsible for how well the communities in which we live and interact lives up to its potential capacity. The traditional role of service organizations has been to identify deficiencies or problems within specific communities and dole out money and man hours to try and fix the problem. In many cases this has led to a passive populace reliant on charity to meet their needs.
The Asset-Based Community Development Institute is an example of an organization doing significant research and projects to counter this outdated paradigm. Their central focus is on highlighting the resources and skills within communities and leveraging those assets to build communities capable of meeting their own needs.
This chapter will show how strengthening and developing the capacity of communities in whatever shape they take is a foundational part of building a civically intelligent society.
The number and scale of projects within these federations grow as they learn from one another. First, one federation savings group develops a solution—such as a scheme to upgrade their homes or to develop new homes, a community-managed toilet, a partnership with the police for community policing, or a change in land use regulations that cuts the costs of land for housing. Then, other groups within the federation visit and discuss the innovation with those who implemented it. They con- sider how they might try a similar initiative, adapted to their needs and capacities, and the availability of land and other resources. Also, the dif- ferent national and citywide federations directly support and learn from one another, as well as supporting the development of comparable feder- ations in other nations.
The example above illustrates starting from a seed and framework and growing civic intelligence.