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THE COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT COLLECTIVE SOCIETY

by Phil Bartle, PhD


The Community Empowerment Collective is a not-for-profit association located world wide which works on the Internet to produce, translate, and make available free training material for strengthening communities. Community Empowerment methodology starts with the idea that capacity can not be built (social engineering), but the community can be stimulated to develop itself. The training emphasises “How-to” rather than theory and research about the empowerment methodology. It aims to write at a level of language for middle school leavers, and provides an extensive set of key words to cover the vocabulary they might not yet know.

Development means getting larger and more complex. Empowerment means becoming stronger. While the two are different by definition, they are intricately interlinked. When we give everything to a community, and do everything for it, it becomes, metaphorically speaking, a cultural couch potato. The methodology is based on eight principles, six cultural or social dimensions, and sixteen elements of strength.



The following are the eight principles of empowerment:

  • The balance of power (opinion makers and leaders, not merely the demographic majority) must desire the community to become more self reliant and willing to make efforts and sacrifices to become so Without this, the mobiliser would be wasting time and better employed in another community;
  • An experienced and/or trained agent must be available to intervene to stimulate and guide the community to organize and take action to overcome poverty and become more self reliant;
  • While assistance can be offered, it should not be charity assistance which promotes dependency and weakness, but partnership, ie assistance and training that promotes self reliance and increased capacity;
  • Recipient organisations or communities should not be controlled or forced into change, but professionals trained as activists or mobilisers should intervene with stimulation, information and guidance, persuasion and facilitation;
  • Organisms become stronger by exercising, struggling, and facing adversity. Empowerment methodology incorporates this principle for social organizations;
  • Hands on participation, especially in decision making, by the recipients, is essential for their increase in capacity. Decisions can not be made for or on behalf of the community;
  • A substantial proportion (it varies) of the resources needed for a community project (ie the action) must be provided by the community members themselves;
  • We need to aim at the participants from the beginning taking full control, exercising full decision making, and accepting full responsibility for the actions which will lead to their increased strength.

The six cultural dimensions the mobilizers are trained to use are:

  • Technological Dimension,
  • Economic Dimension,
  • Political Dimension,
  • Institutional Dimension,
  • Value Dimension and
  • Worldview Dimension.

The web site also provides many practical descriptions of how to do things related to empowerment, ranging from gender balance, income generation, functional literacy, community mobilization, enabling environment, participatory appraisal, through planning, project design, management training, proposals, report writing, to applications in various sectors.

The Community Empowerment web site has been up and running on the Internet for ten years. Originally, it was called the Community Management Programme (CMP) as it was a bi-product of the UN-HABITAT CMP in Uganda. Several dozen individuals have contributed to the site. See Contributors. All are members of the association, and any others showing interest may be invited in, too, if they request membership. No dues. No fees. To join our discussion group, click on the Yahoo groups on the Useful Links page, and sign up. Our group name is Community Strengthening.

The Community Empowerment Collective is registered as a "Society" (Non Profit Organization) with the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Its budget is zero.

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The Purpose of the Collective is as follows:

(a) To create, develop, produce and distribute training material and guidance aimed at community mobilisers, their trainers and their co-ordinators (managers) which will promote the self reliance, development and strengthening of low income communities, with a focus on least developed countries, and in other low income areas.

The bylaws of the society are those set out in Schedule B to the Society Act.

Events:

We first applied for name approval to the British Columbia Registry, and we were approved, but they changed the name. We submitted the name, "Community Empowerment Collective," but they added the word "Society" to that, then approved it.

May 24, Birthday of Queen Victoria, seven of us met at Tim Hortons coffee shop and signed the constitution for applying for registration. The directors resident in Victoria, are: Phil Bartle, Allison Miller, Kwabena Boateng, Jonathan Gentille, Adriana McMullen and David Stott. We added others who are not resident here in Victoria, including María Lourdes Sada, Silke Reichrath and Al Boss, but the local list was needed, with signatures and addresses, for the application process.

The application was submitted to the Registry, and was approved May 30. Our registration number is S-50728. We are now a non profit organization.

Our AGM (Annual General Meeting), was held in Cyberspace, on May Day, 2007. It confirmed the members of the Board, and elected David Stott as Chair, with Phil retaining responsiblity as signing officer.

On our Annual General Meeting of 2010, May 1, the Chair of our Board of Directors rotated from David Stott to Jonathon Gentille. Many thanks, David. Congratulations Jonathon. Voting was unanimous that we retain our annual budget of $0. On our 2011 Annual General Meeting, all decisions and officers remained as before.

Lourdes Sada: Web Designer and Website Administrator
Janita Thomson: Manager of Coordinators
Bergen Amren: Vice President in Charge of External Affairs.

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At Tim Hortons on Douglas, VictoriaAl and Nathan
Kwabena BoatengLules at homeAdriana McMullen
Sea Child.Justin Smith and Jonnie Flash.David Stott
Silke Reichrath & Co..Benjamin Fleming, Australia.Phil Bartle, Web Smith

If you copy text from this site, please acknowledge the author(s)
and link it back to www.scn.org/cmp/

 Following the path of least resistance makes all rivers and some men crooked


© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
Web Design by Lourdes Sada
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Last update: 2011.05.28

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