How idealistic is all this?
Community Development workers I’ve spoken to all describe the constant tension between the theory of Community Development, and what is actually possible in real life. They often have to convince their own colleagues about the benefits of a Community Development approach which often involves more time and effort; they then have to convince partner organisations, funders, policy makers, and even community members that it’s worth spending longer to, for example, consult properly and build-in sustainability. These and many other pressures mean that the Community Development work does not measure up to the ideals.
But yet they don’t lose heart. And maybe they learn to see the longer and wider perspective: things do get better over the longer term even with some compromises, and the knock-on impacts of Community Development do still bring about positive change despite the actual Community Development work being limited to measurable outcomes and targets, and concrete events, reports or building work.
I still want to know how idealistic Community Development is (and how idealistic I am in this). But I suppose I think ideals can be realised, so I need to learn how to see them being realised through this longer and wider perspective.