RCC - Chelsea Clarkson - Month 1





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Published on Feb 23, 2012

What does it take for any one of us to become connected with fellow neighbors and inspired to bring about transformative change in our community, beginning in the place where we live?

Listen to Chelsea Clarkson of one of the Fruitville neighborhoods in unincorporated Sarasota County reflect on the first month of her experience as a Resident Community Changemaker.

Resident Community Changemakers is a partnership between residents in various neighborhoods throughout Sarasota County and SCOPE, a community engagement organization.

It includes a 9-month Fellowship involving residents of 4 particular neighborhoods, as well as a Community of Practice open to all Sarasota County residents who are interested in becoming more present and active in their home neighborhoods, for the sake of meaningful community-wide change.

Resident Community Changemakers is rooted in a distinct Theory of Community Change that orients to residents as primary community builders. Why? In many ways, residents who are neighbors trump professionals (no matter how competent) when it comes to neighborhood-scale community building. Residents have personal investment in the success of their own place. They have a more intimate perspective on everyday life, and so are able to more exquisitely detect changes in the neighborhood, and meaningful changes at that. Power differentials are less likely among neighbors than between neighbors and institutions. And community building by neighbors tends to be more natural than professionally-led community-building.

What then is SCOPE's role in relation to community-building? As an institution (even as a community engagement institution), SCOPE is a "second investor." SCOPE works to spot aspiring resident community builders throughout the county, and then orients them to SCOPE's Theory of Community Change - not to educate or indoctrinate, but rather to determine whether this Theory of Community Change resonates. SCOPE then teams up with residents who are aspiring community changemakers with compatible philosophies and, by following the lead of residents, partners in community change efforts that emanate from the neighborhood scale.

The primary resource that SCOPE offers to fellows is reflective consultation, in order to support the reflective capacities of resident community changemakers. Reflective consultation refers to individual and group sessions in which the fellow describes their latest community-building efforts and what has been going on in their neighborhood and community, and the SCOPE consultant actively listens and asks questions to clarify what has been learned through the experience, and how this can inform future neighbor-led efforts. When a person is able to reflect real-time on the decisions they are making and the actions they are taking, in personal, family, neighborhood, and broader community context, they are able to be more effective as change agents.

When indicated, SCOPE is able and willing to provide education, training, and technical assistance with regard to methods and techniques of community-building and community changemaking. However, the emphasis on reflective consultation, rather than education / training / technical assistance, is what makes the SCOPE fellowship unique.

We anticipate that there are many aspiring resident community changemakers living in Sarasota County. Are you one of them? Do you know of others? If so, we hope you'll let us know, and we encourage you to join the Community of Practice that meets monthly. Please contact apinto@scopexcel.org or 941.365.8751 to find out more.


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