OK, so the professional Community Development worker is a facilitator, a catalyst to the development of the community. They are always listening to the people to help them work out what they want, and then helping them find the information and resources, and empowering them to develop in their own ways.
Sounds great. But within all those processes (listening/consulting, providing information, putting them in touch with sources of resource, etc.) decisions are made by the professional about what to try first, and which method to use. These decisions are made by the professional and not by the people of the community because the people don’t have the information and don’t even know that there is a decision to be made. And the community understandably is interested in working to develop, not working to learn everything the professional knows and on which the decisions have to be based.
So is the community trusting the professional to be a “benevolent dictator”? How aware is everyone of this, and is it necessary?
Maybe this trust is the key: so maybe the relationship between professional and community is more important and less objective than we think. So “catalyst” is the wrong word for a Community Development professional: a catalyst isn’t affected by the reaction of which it is part. For a trusting relationship, both parts have to be open to be changed.
Hang on, are we really adding “benevolent dictator” to the role of Community Development professional?