Social Change is the bedrock of Community Development. Community Development is firmly routed in the principles of social change, collective action, empowerment, participation and social justice. In order to empower communities to initiate change, firstly they need to identify their needs and work collectively to develop actions to address these needs. One school of thought is that within all communities there are individuals who can contribute significantly in addressing the inequalities that this community is facing; Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).
Asset Based Community Development is a method employed to support sustainable development. ABCD places a focus on mobilising existing resources within the community, assets. Often times these assets are not recognised and it is therefore essential to create a space for all individuals within the community to play an equal part in the influencing of change. This is most effective when the community takes a conscious decision to build on the assets that they already found in the community and mobilises individuals and groups to come together to build on identified assets.
Design Thinking is a method which can facilitate a collaborative response to an identified problem, and ensure that the assets with the community are supported to address this need. Design thinking is more than a framework to address community challenges, it is a way to build capacity and collective action, to help members to explore more complex issues in an open and empathetic way, to work collectively to identify the problems and to develop solutions.
Roscommon Design Thinking Learning Centre is embarking on this process. On the 14th October 2022 it introduced the concept of design thinking to the broader community in the area. This was a new concept for those active in Community Life, it was perhaps something known and understood to the engineering world, but not yet something that had reached the world of community development in Roscommon. Once the concept and the 6 phases including telling the story was presented to the group, there was a great energy within the room and a desire to learn more and explore how this concept could be translated to the development sector and what the resulting outcomes may be.
Whilst there is a way to go in terms of building the understanding the merits of borrowing this concept and making it relatable for the community sector there was a keenness to explore and to learn and be open to how it may shape change in the future. The group are going to come together in early 2023 and work on a topic around supporting the integration of the Ukrainian Community into Roscommon and establishing what their needs are and how collectively using the 6 phases that the community can move towards meeting the needs, building on the assets within the community and ultimately affecting change.
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