June 4, 2009

Love This New Resource!

My favorite new publication is the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center's Organizer's Workbook. I love this because it is practical, beautiful, and will be immensely useful for the grassroots grantmaking world.

Marc McAleavey, INRC's Evaluation and Documention Manager, told me that the idea for the workbook grew out of the Community Building Institute that INRC hosts and their work with the Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative. Participants in the Community Building Institute said that a take-home resource would help them put some of the great things that they were learning to work. Work on quality-of-life planning processes with the Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative Neighborhoods pointed in the same direction. INRC staff began by pulling together information that they used for the Community Building Institute modules - each one taking responsibility for their piece of that pie. Their work on the content plus a gifted graphics person and a local grant for printing made this work possible. Sounds simple but I know it wasn't.

What I especially appreciate about the guide is the way that asset based community development thinking and community organizing principles and tools are blended and presented in a way that is digestible and inviting but not in any way "dumbed-down". I get frustrated at times when community organizing is talked about as something that only special people who are part of national organizing networks can get or do. While I fully appreciate the deep wisdom that has come from years of work by organizers, organizing networks and the community organizations that are associated with national networks, my frustration comes from my own experience of wanting and needing some basic community organizing tools and skills, and not having access to one of the national community organizing networks. I think that some community organizing basics are helpful for everyone who works at the neighborhood level. And finally, here's the resource that fills that void.

This is a workbook that would have been immensely useful to me and my neighborhood group when I was working on vacant land redevelopment issues back in Memphis. It would have also been immensely useful to me when I worked at the Center for Neighborhoods in Memphis - Memphis' version if INRC. Had this resource been available back then, I can guarantee that it would have been the textbook for our own version of a community building institute. And, it would have been immensely useful to me when I staffed a grassroots grantmaking program at a community foundation.

This is a treasure. Check it out.

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