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1 Working Together to Assess Community Capacity Kathie Cram Community Development Consultant Public Health Services Saskatoon Health Region Saskatchewan,

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Presentation on theme: "1 Working Together to Assess Community Capacity Kathie Cram Community Development Consultant Public Health Services Saskatoon Health Region Saskatchewan,"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Working Together to Assess Community Capacity Kathie Cram Community Development Consultant Public Health Services Saskatoon Health Region Saskatchewan, Canada Community Development Society Communities That Click: Individuals, Families and Organizations That Work Together 38 th Annual Conference St. Louis, June 2006

2 2 Can tools developed to assess community capacity be applied in a way that has meaning and is useful to grassroots anti-poverty work? Has meaning refers to the interpretation by the participants about the extent to which the project and the application of the tool affected them and impacted on their relationships with one another. Useful refers to how it influenced the work of their organization in terms of practices, decisions and planning.

3 3 Based on a case analysis of the efforts of the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition (SAPC) to understand their capacity

4 4 Philosophical meaning of the strawberry : Heart-shaped Connotates healing, passion and purity Smell, taste, looks, how it makes us feel when we eat it Way it sends out runners symbolic of community renewal and outreach Tied to 100 Years of Heart history of Province of Saskatchewan, Canada Celebrate ancient heart of the land Symbol of resolve to work towards change by balancing support with justice work

5 5 Uses the ten- (10) dimensions of community capacity discussed by Goodman et al are used, in collaboration with the Coalition, to analyze their work.

6 6 The Ten Dimensions Participation Community Power Community Values Community History Community Feeling Networks Critical Reflection Leadership Resources Skills

7 7 In summary, the project showed that: one particular tool to measure community capacity can have meaning to the participants, and be useful for identifying both strengths and areas for development the meaning comes from the opportunity to spend time reflecting on the dimensions in an atmosphere of trust, fun, and where everyone is given voice usefulness comes from connection to planning (around Poverty Awareness Week) and as a tool to discuss conflict

8 8 The people: small 6 person group called "C- 8": Creative, Cool, Committed, Classy, Clever, Community, Capacity, Collective clear they wanted to have fun in the process, learn something useful and wanted to work with a consensus based decision making model an ad hoc group of people from SAPC, who were to guide the project and act as a "proxy" for SAPC members two (2) members were living on social assistance, two (2) members were working with supportive agencies, one (1) member acted as the facilitator; and one (1) member was the group's "methods consultant"

9 9 The method 1. Group Sets Goals learn about Goodman et al community capacity tool analyze & critique the tool based on their experiences with SAPC adapt the tool for SAPC link the tool to planning

10 10 2. Group Develops Philosophy In between an applied community based research approach and a "project". Reasons were: negative experiences members had with formal research processes contributed to them feeling exploited by the researcher/s desire of the group to control their techniques and who was writing what about the process need to integrate some of the best parts of community based research, and their own positive experiences of this, into the project.

11 11 solution was to work with a "methods consultant", who volunteered her time, and ensured that the group paid attention to ethical processes of research and sound methods of recording discussions and decisions Use principles of community based research articulated by Minkler and Wallerstein (2003); participatory, cooperative, engaging community members and researchers in a process where both contribute equally, co-learning process, involves systems development and local community capacity building, empowering process in which participants can increase control over their own lives, attempts to achieve a balance between research and action.

12 12 3. Process Process was facilitated, records were kept, consent forms signed Use of metaphors at beginning, end and in rating system (spidergram) Read out loud portions of the Goodman et al article Discussed 1 or 2 of the dimensions as it related to their experience Developed a working definition of each of the dimensions Choose the order of discussion around each according to what might be most useful at the time given the current realities and issues the group was facing. (eg: conflict in skills dimension; power).

13 13 Interplay between dialogue, analysis and action is 1 example of how the principles of community based research was being used. Focus group to engage other people who had been involved in the earlier years of the Coalition. Group wanted a then and now comparison. Closure and final reflection gathering.

14 14 Labour intensive (met 12 times for 2.5 hours each time)

15 15 Rating Rated each of the dimensions separately. 4 = very high (understanding of what their group would be like if the dimension was at its optimum); 1 = very low (understanding of what there group would be like if the dimension was totally absent) Glenn Lavaracks (2005) spidergram technique

16 16 Discovery: What We Found Out

17 17 Grappling with the Definition Choose/adapt one of : " An approach to the development of sustainable skills, organizational structures, resources, and commitment to health improvement in health and other sectors, to prolong and multiply health gains many times over "(Hawe et al 1999). "The increase in community groups' ability to define, assess, analyze data and act on health (or an other) concerns of importance to their members" (Labonte and Laverack 2001).

18 18 "Characteristics of a community that affect their ability to identify, mobilize and address social and health problems, and the cultivation and use of transferable knowledge, skills, systems and resources that affect community and individual level changes consistent with public health- related goals and objectives." (Goodman et al 1998)

19 19 Group choose Goodman et al definition: 1. Definition Resonates embraced the first of these 2 aspects of the definition, but did not want to tie any definition to public health goals they might not understand; adapted definition of community capacity is:building upon the characteristics of a community that affect their ability to identify, mobilize and address social health problems. 2. Engaging Process process used by Goodman was based on a broad engagement of people from different disciplines who had experience in the field had worked with people who were marginalized.

20 20 3. Dimensions Made Sense agreed that each dimension was important to their work there was nothing of real substance missing wanted to add some additional elements to each dimension especially struggled with sense of community several sessions trying to articulate the element of soulfulness in building a sense of community.

21 21 4. Practical Value believed that using the tool from Goodman et al would have some practical value it was understandable and could be used to help with future planning. although many of the other dimensions were common amongst all the authors, Goodman offered one dimension that dealt with community history that people found important.

22 22 C8 Group: Dimensions, Definitions and Ratings: Now and Then DimensionNotes from Evaluation Tool C8 Definition of Dimension Optimum Definition Absent Definition Ratings Then Now Participation Strong participant base Diverse network that enables different interests to take collective action Benefits overriding costs associated with participation Citizen involvement in defining and resolving needs Embrace inclusivity Active contribution of a diverse network of people (organizations & individuals) in a safe environment where the people share a common concern about the issue The Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition is at its optimum for participation when it is safe, inclusive, respectful, barrier-free and diversity is celebrated Participation is absent from the Saskatoon Anti- Poverty Coalition when there is a lack of trust, tokenism and low attendance 32

23 23 DimensionNotes from Evaluation Tool C8 Definition of Dimension Optimum Definition Absent Definition Ratings Then Now Leadership Inclusion of formal and informal leaders Providing direction & structure for participants Encouraging participation from a diverse network of community participants Implementing procedures for ensuring participation from all during group meetings & events Facilitating the sharing of information & resources by participants & organizations Shaping & cultivating development of new leaders Leadership is the ability to engage & inspire a diverse network of people toward a common goal Leadership is at its optimum when the SAPC is working toward fulfilling its vision by: Taking risks, Being innovative, Out of our comfort zone, Challenging the status quo, Dreaming big, Motivated, and Being passionate Leadership is absent in the SAPC when there is no common vision, people arent working together and personal agendas interfere with reaching success. 23

24 24 DimensionNotes from Evaluation Tool C8 Definition of Dimension Optimum Definition Absent Definition Ratings Then Now Understanding of Community History Awareness of important social, political & economic changes that have occurred both recently and distally. Awareness of the types of organizations, community groups & community sectors that are present. Awareness of community standing relative to other communities History is the acknowledg- ment of the quality of collective, personal & external experiences mapped over time. (do their own mapping) History is at its optimum when SAPC will see opportunities & has the courage to take action. History is absent when SAPC lacks identity, suffers from isolation, has a poor reputation and is unable to take action. 23

25 25 DimensionNotes from Evaluation Tool C8 Definition of Dimension Optimum Definition Absent Definition Ratings Then Now Community Power Ability to create or resist change regarding community turf, interests or experiences Power with not control over them Influence across a variety of domains or community contexts Ability to challenge the status quo Power is the shared ability to influence the thinking, actions and/or decisions of others. When Power is at its optimum, goals are achieved, by a commitment to power-with instead of power-over and letting go of unreasonable expectations of outcome When Power is absent, common goals are not achieved because there is power-over and individuals try to control outcomes. 23

26 26 The Meaning of the Project: Good Medicine process had been a meaningful learning experience they had deepened their relationships with one another it was worthy of celebration (fun barbeque) and deeper reflection (collage exercise) learning could be integrated into planning for the future visual images group members chose to represent their feelings about the project and symbolize the meaning the project held for them varied

27 27 Getting our ducks in a row

28 28 Planting seeds for future growth

29 29 The discussions came from the heart

30 30 We all have wisdom, have more wisdom together, wisdom was valued

31 31 At the beginning this was unknown, sometimes it was chaotic, new questions were good for development

32 32 Lessons Learned Useful tool for collective reflection Wisdom in room, help create atmosphere of trust, mutual respect, quietness and silence Builds relationships if done with respect Tool to create safe place to talk about conflict and need for improvement with judgement or blaming individuals Labour intensive Must be linked back into ongoing work (will be used in planning and monthly meetings)


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