Thursday, November 13, 2014

2007 JAN | Community Development Corporations: The ABCs of CDCs and DIY Neighborhood Development

JAN 2007 | PDF

Community Development Corporations:
The ABCs of CDCs and DIY Neighborhood Development

Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world."  
- Archimedes  (220 BCE)

By Ed Democracy

Community development is often used as a synonym for economic development. Sometimes the two terms are lumped together: “com­munity & economic development”.  The reason is that all development has been of the developers, by the developers and for the developers.  The point of community develop­ment is development of the com­munity, by the community, and for the community.  Fortunately, there are some socially responsible de­velopers who share their financial knowledge and organizing skills to do projects which are actually com­patible and symbiotic with com­munities.  Furthermore, over the past several decades, a new com­munity development movement has begun to gain real momen­tum.  Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are a rela­tively new model of organization designed specifically for grassroots democratic development.  Many states have “CDC associations” to coordinate the growing multitude of CDCs.  These grassroots CDCs provide both a lever and place to stand for common people work­ing to change their neighborhoods.  

What do you do when you and your neighbors see opportunities for community development proj­ects which would make a real dif­ference for your community? 

You probably talk about it over coffee or at meetings of your neighborhood organization.  Maybe you even have a community vision work­shop and identify broad consensus on ideas which are not only both innovative and viable but truly sus­tainable for the longterm.  What next?  If you do not have a local CDC, then you probably hope some socially responsible devel­oper gets wind of the ideas before a socially irresponsible developer does.  CDCs offer an alternative to the “hope against hope” method of development.  CDCs can start independently or they be spin-off organizations which are started by neighborhood organizations in col­laboration with other local organi­zations, businesses, and individuals.

There are some truly amazing re­sources available right now.  If you do not have a CDC in your neighbor­hood, then you can start  one!   Today!   

There are now over 4,000 CDCs nationwide.  

Just one of many resources for information on CDCs is:

COMMUNITY-WEALTH.ORG whose “goal is to provide you with the web’s most comprehen­sive and up-to-date information resource on state-of-the-art strat­egies for democratic, community-based economic development.”  There you can find books such as:

“The Small-Mart Revolution”, 

“Enterprising Organizations: New Asset-Based and Other In­novative Approaches to Solving Social and Economic Problems”

“Building Wealth: The New As­set-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems”,

“America Beyond Capitalism”

“The Commons Rising”,

 ... and much more.  

You and your neighbors can build the neighborhood you want!  The resources you need are avail­able right now!  Good luck!


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