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Community Builders

Bringing together people of all ages to discuss and share what it takes to build a sense of community. "Each participant is placed in a “neighborhood” which has 7 to 12 people of various ages led by college students."

Photo of Thanh Do
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"The purpose of Community Builders is to help people be better citizens by talking about the importance of community, practicing the skills that can help improve communities, and engaging in projects that support communities."

Source: Wartburg College, Community Builders

Inspired by my former days of an urban planning grad student, we did similar work with CommUniverCity, a collaboration of community leaders, university students and local government staff. I am a huge fan of building social capital, commonly known as resources of networks, norms or shared values, and community trust. Having volunteered in high school and working in vulnerable diverse communities that greatly rely on intergenerational family structures, there's so many possibilities of engaging both young people, their grandparents and older adults and their grandchildren.

Questions: Ideal starting place: Young people living with grandparents? Young people with local grandparents? Senior commissions committed to the local community with local grandchildren?

Lessons Learned:
Some personal highlights from my work with CommUniverCity include working with an organization with strong roots within a community, going in with a multi-disciplinary approach working across different university and city departments, learning about untapped resources within multi-cultural diverse populations, professional development through service learning and navigation through the city planning process, just to name a few. Some successes include closing the gaps to underserved communities, developing community relationships and trust, seeing projects planned in the past go through the city council process and the satisfaction that you're contributing and improving the community on so many levels. Challenges include limited language skills to access underserved populations, the transition between semesters to sustain the project and community change can take many many years.

http://cucsj.org/
http://www.wartburg.edu/cb/
 

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Your experience with "collaboration of community leaders, university students and local government staff" sounds fascinating. Do you have any highlights or surprises to share from this approach? What was successful, what was more challenging? We'd love to learn more as we explore this topic further...

Photo of Thanh Do

Thanks Meena! Added a few more things.