Community Development 101
Community Development done well (which is always our aim), is when a community decides in fair and inclusive ways, how they want to grow or improve themselves, either as a group of individuals or the place where they are located, and then makes it happen by working together.
175 years ago, a Frenchman named Alexander de Tocqueville came to visit the United States of America to see how democracy could work. One of his many conclusions was that one thing that made our country unique was how people worked together across class to get things done, which was totally different than how Europe or France was structured at the time. He wrote that all progress depends on how well we connect with one another, or in his words, “the science of association is the mother of science, the progress of all the rest depends upon the progress it has made” (Democracy in America, 1840).
The Better Blackstone project is a community development project, in the simplest definition of the words. We want to come together as a community, with neighborhoods, businesses and institutional leaders, to figure out what needs to be done, and then do it. Community development could mean more potlucks in parks, or that new buildings need to be built prettier, or local jobs for our youth. It could mean that we want to take time to listen to one another more often, to hear the amazing stories that brought us to Blackstone. It could mean more shade trees or more parking spaces. Community development has been happening as long as people have been trying to live with one another, it is up to all of us to determine what community development looks like in the Better Blackstone project area.