Topic 2.1 Work from the community perspective

The community dimension implies an “anchoring” of both people and projects. It is about an anchorage to the territory in which they are and develop, to the population that inhabits it, to their organizations and institutions as well as to the needs, demands and common objectives.

This, as we have seen, has multiple advantages for individuals, but also for the community as a whole. On the one hand, because improving the quality of life of the members of a community has repercussions for the benefit of the community as a whole. For example, minimizing severe exclusion in an area or school absenteeism has enormous benefits for the community as a whole, which can be made visible in thousands of ways.

From the community approach, the community is responsible for the issues as part of the problem and the possibilities for improvement and alternatives, so that it can participate in their resolution.

Thus, the community supports the actions, guaranteeing their sustainability, autonomy and viability. This involves other community agents in solving a problem or situation, inviting all possible social and institutional agents, etc., even those who a priori do not seem to be related to that specific problem.

The community approach implies working towards more empathetic and supportive communities, since with these processes the population becomes aware of their own needs and those of others, which is why we also speak of an educational process. People develop a commitment to community affairs by articulating networks, resources and intervention strategies.

The community approach involves working by sharing and promoting existing resources in a community, both material (premises, printers, materials…) and immaterial (knowledge, work, contacts…). This therefore implies promoting networking.

Networking is key in community processes since it not only facilitates the sharing of resources, but also multiplies the impact of actions as well as their multidirectionality. That is to say, it intervenes in a coordinated manner from the different community agents: population, institution, resources…, each one with their tools and from their knowledge and skills.

Also, reflective action and constant evaluation of community problems should be promoted, responding to them and developing improvement processes, producing greater participation of people in political, social decision-making…, so that social organizations and citizens influence public policies that affect them.

Communication and collaboration are based on a shared meaning that must be built when it does not exist. This means that one of the first steps in community work is often the construction of this shared sense, through diverse activities of encounter and mutual knowledge, discussion of common problems, etc.