Debunking Four Common Community Organizing Myths

If several people live in close proximity to each other, they more than likely share many of the same community interests. Often, they will come together to change issues important to them. Unfortunately, organized communities get confused with other groups, and there are several myths that need to be dispelled.

Myth #1: Community Organizing is Activism

Both community organization and activism are responsible for many social changes in history. However, the two deviate when you look at their general focus. Community organization often has a specific purpose in mind for starting a domino effect of changes. While members of the organized community can be classified as activists, they receive the empowerment that builds within the community, allowing members to stand up and take charge. Activists, while concerned with many of the same issues as an organized community, don't provide the individual empowerment that comes from within an organized community. 

Myth #2: Community Organizing Builds Social Movements

A social movement can be quite large in comparison with a community organization. Social movements generally bring together individual activists, advocacy groups, spokespeople and local and national groups. An organized community consists of individual members of a local area. Organized communities may share many of the same goals as a larger social movement and may actually include themselves in with the bigger movement. But their main focus is in creating change for their local community, and not for the larger greater good. Self-interest in their immediate local community is what differentiates these two.

Myth #3: Community Organization is Community Development

In community development, a closely related concept of community organization, educated professionals within non-profit, government or business organizations generally lead the rest of the community through efforts to initiate social change. While this method does inspire change, it is not a characteristic of an organized community. An organized community comes together when they agree on a change that must be made within their local area, taking initiative to make sure their goals are met. The organized community in this case will try to persuade professionals that their cause takes precedence over community development issues.

Myth #4: Community Organization is Advocacy

Not everyone has the ability to speak for themselves due to varying issues. An advocate will take their story and make sure it is heard. This is not what community organization does. Since community organization is based on empowering the members of a local community to create needed change, all members are encouraged to talk for themselves. This is a virtue and a benefit of belonging to a community organization. As community members find their power within the organization, they will be more willing to come forward as new changes occur.

Organizing a local community is a great way to begin changing one's local surroundings. An organized community can be thought of as a microcosm of a larger movement for social change. The small size of an organized community allows it to target desired changes, and it gives power back to its residents as a token of gratitude.

Helena Breit lives in a new community and has got quite involved with its organization. She enjoys sharing her insights on various homeowner blogs. Visit Copperfield to find learn about Calgary townhomes.

Photo credits: xedos4,


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