Some of the problems that individuals and entire communities face result from community and living conditions. Community change means addressing the root causes of those problems. It also means creating new systems or structures that enhance citizen participation and well-being, removing barriers to services and supports, and promoting social policies that enhance well-being and people's ability to thrive.
Organizations also have conditions that either cause problems for their members or promote optimal human and organization functioning. These conditions may be structural (staffing, groups and teams, leadership, communication, roles, policies, training), political (power sharing, decision-making, fairness, conflict management), or cultural (learning, norms, vision, openness, mutual respect, celebration). Organizations thrive when they change organizational conditions and systems in order to better promote overall worker health and organizational effectiveness.
Resources Related to Community Change
Mentally Healthy Communities (Canadian Population Health Initiative 2008)
Organizational Conditions Leading to Transformative Practice: Findings from a Multi-case Study, Action Research Investigation(powerpoint presentation viewable here)
This new site is focused on the relationship between inequality and well-being. It is stocked full of resources for learning about the research, teaching, and taking action. The site believes that "a program of public education is essential to generate the necessary political will among the electorate and politicians alike."
Community Organizing Outcomes (pdf) - The Urban Institute and The Center for What Works
"Implementing an outcome monitoring process enables organizations to track progress in achieving the program's mission. With this information, program managers can better develop budgets, allocate resources and improve their services. This document includes the following suggestions for starting or improving outcome measurement efforts...."
Urban Institute Policy Centers on education, health, income, justice, labor, etc.
Community Indicators Victoria (Australia): Measuring Wellbeing
"Community wellbeing indicators provide a concrete focus to engage local citizens and strengthen communities in discussions about what matters to them. The process of developing community wellbeing indicators and community plans is an excellent way to inform and involve local people and organisations, and a meaningful task for citizens. It enables them to identify key issues, discuss priorities, and plan future directions for their community."
"The Commission proposes 8 broad goals for WHAT a transformed mental health system would look like:"
- The hope of recovery is available to all
- Action is taken to promote mental health and well-being to prevent mental health problems and illnesses.
- The mental health system is culturally safe, and responds to the diverse needs of Canadians.
- The importance of families in promoting recovery and well-being is recognized and their needs are supported.
- People of all ages have equitable access to a system of appropriate and effective programs, services and supports that is seamlessly integrated around their needs.
- Actions are based on appropriate evidence, outcomes are measured and research is advanced.
- Discrimination against people living with mental health problems and illnesses is eliminated, and stigma is not tolerated.
- A broadly-based social movement keeps mental health issues out of the shadows - forever.
Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick? Seven-part documentary
"The four-hour series crisscrosses the nation uncovering startling new findings that suggest there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social circumstances in which we are born, live, and work can actually get under our skin and disrupt our physiology as much as germs and viruses." Site includes extensive lesson plans and discussion guide.
"This chapter provides guidelines you can adapt to develop a social determinants of health initiative in your community. As you prepare your initiative, engaging multiple sectors of the community and encouraging active participation in collaborative processes are critical to improving the conditions for health. These processes involve personal and professional commitments to build trust, accept responsibility, listen to new or opposing perspectives, and maintain authenticity."
Center for Community Engagement (Portland, Oregon)
"The Center for Community Engagement links the Graduate School at Lewis & Clark to our larger communities. Through the center, we collaborate with a wide range of professional organizations, educational institutions, community groups and more. Because of our commitment to community engagement in everything we do, alumni return to us for on-going professional development, organizations seek us out as partners to pursue grant funding for community based projects in education and counseling, school leaders choose us to develop effective professional development for their schools and districts, and our students learn day in and day out alongside practicing professional counselors and educators.
"The guide provides a process for promoting systemic change within and throughout school systems supported by a culture of continuous inquiry and collaboration." Produce by SEDL (formerly Southwest Educational Development Laboratory), "a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas. SEDL is dedicated to solving significant education problems and improving teaching and learning through research, research-based resources, and professional development."
The Change Agency Education and Training Institute Inc. is an independent activist education initiative. We work with community organisers and activists in the Australia Pacific region to help people win social and environmental change. Bringing about social and environmental change is hard work. Sometimes it takes more than passion and commitment. In our work for change, it can make a real difference when we clarify our purpose, focus our energies and develop strategies to achieve real outcomes. We develop, collect and share tools to help activists and community organisers define and achieve their goals. We research social change to learn what works, and draw on action research to inform our facilitation and educational work. We lead workshops with people working for a just, sustainable and peaceful world. If you are interested in being more effective in your work, or inspired and informed by others who are working for change, let's start a conversation.