Community Building: What Makes It Work: A Review of Factors Influencing Successful Community Building
a book by Paul W Mattessich and Barbara Monsey
(our site's book review)
This book identifies 28 factors, such as leadership and community awareness, and examines how each one can help build a community more effectively and efficiently and how a community can increase its ability to work together, to problem-solve, and to make group decisions.
Community Building: What Makes It Work: A Review of Factors Influencing Successful Community Building has a What Makes it Work section that shows you what really does (and doesn't) contribute to success. This practical report reveals twenty-eight keys to help you build community more effectively and efficiently. Utilizing the research in this book, you can save a lot of time looking for best-practice information. With this concise, comprehensive report, you've got the tools to help your community building work succeed.
The report will aid you to:
- Find out what community characteristics contribute to successful community building.
- Make sure key processes such as communications and technical assistance are in place.
- Determine if community leaders or organizers have essential qualities such as a relationship of trust and flexibility.
- Evaluate the likely success of a proposed project or get a struggling effort back on track.
- Characteristics of the Community. These are the social, psychological, and geographical attributes of a community and its residents that contribute to the success of a community building effort.
- Characteristics of the Community Building Process. These are factors that make up the process by which people attempt to build community, such as representation, communications, and technical assistance.
- Characteristics of Community Building Organizers. These factors are the qualities of those people who organize and lead a community building effort, such as commitment, trust, understanding, and experience
Examples, definitions and a bibliography make this report even more valuable.
Wilder researchers purposely limited the definition to a specific type of community: People who live within a geographically defined area and who have social and psychological ties with each other and with the place where they live. This definition requires both geographic bounds and social ties. Obviously, this is an irl f2f definition that does not include many types of social networks that people consider communities, albeit cybercommunities. Those are also valid communities but rely on connections rather than bonds—which are deeper.
Community building generally refers to building the social networks within the community, and developing group and individual problem-solving and leadership skills. The report defines community building as: Any identifiable set of activities pursued by a community in order to increase irl f2f community social capacity.
Community building generally refers to building the social networks within the community, and developing group and individual problem-solving and leadership skills
The broad capacities relevant to community building are abilities to develop and sustain strong relationships, solve problems and make group decisions, and collaborate effectively to identify goals and get work done. When one builds community capacity, one is increasing the extent to which members of a community can work together effectively.
Working with these (and other) definitions, WilderResearchCenter identified 525 written evaluation studies of community building. They sorted this literature based on a set of criteria. The screening reduced the final number of reports to 48. Two reviewers independently extracted the 28 success factors from those reports.
Two WilderResearchCenter reviewers independently extracted the 28 success factors from the 48 reports winnowed from 525 written evaluation studies
The above review refers to using this excellent community building book to guide your community building efforts. There is another way, a way that builds optimal irl f2f communities: See MCs.