ACDA NEWSLETTER: SEPTEMBER 2019 EDITION.
Kia ora whānau. The ACDA team hopes that you are all feeling ka pai as you read through our most recent newsletter, sharing just a few exciting things that has kept ACDA busy as of late.
World Community Development Conference,
Dundee, Scotland 2019.
Conference report by John M Stansfield
I was fortunate enough to attend the world community development conference in Dundee Scotland in late June this year. The conference which is the annual gathering of the International Association for community development was last held in Maynooth, Ireland.
Almost 400 delegates from around the world attended a very vibrant and busy conference which included a full cultural program and practice exchanges. Amongst them were several Kiwi’s but sadly no one from the Pacific Islands. Conference began in the splendid and historic McManus Galleries where amidst the dramatic oil paintings and portraits we were welcomed by the conference organisers and their distinguished guests. The highlight of this opening however was the absolutely spellbinding performance of a very large women’s choir who sang the songs of the mill working women from the days when Dundee was a town of jute mills.
Conference proper opened with some terrific keynote speakers who were both challenging and engaging. Aileen Campbell a member of the Scottish Parliament and Cabinet Sec for communities and local government impressed us with her broad and very hopeful vision for enabled communities stepping up to the challenges of contemporary Scottish life.
The Orwellian Darren “Loki” McGarvey is a Scottish rapper with a terrific pedigree in exposing and challenging poverty. He is the author of “poverty Safari: understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass.” Is also an enormously popular performer with a huge following and a reputation for taking hard political messages into the very public sphere where he has managed to engage thousands of young people.
Panel speakers included Kavita Chetty, head of strategy at the Scottish human rights commission. Kavita explored the importance of public ownership of the human rights agenda and strategies for ensuring that the least heard have a place in the development of legislation.
Davie Donaldson, a member of the Scottish traveller community gave an impassioned plea for academics and policymakers to abandon the myth of social mobility with the same vigour that the myth had abandoned the people it was supposed to mobilise. He was a hugely engaging in challenging speaker and very rich applause from a rapturous audience.
The conference itself had adopted an unusual format where we presenters were strictly limited to 7 minutes. For myself I found this quite unsatisfactory as it did not enable most presenters to deliver the depth required to promote meaningful discussion. Some participants of course thought this a very favourable structure and the idea was that interested presenters would meet in the pun conference face to continue discussions however the rich offering of presentations made this quite unlikely. Alongside presentation sessions there were also opportunities for workshops, and I attended several of these which I found quite fascinating.
As an islander, I was drawn to a workshop on community development in Northern Ireland’s only offshore island. Rathlin Island is home to less than 90 residents but is planning a big future with an expansion possibly as big as 165. It enjoys some tourism and receives public services that many New Zealand islanders could only dream of. The workshop was around the planning processes employed and the islands relationship to local government. Rather than the ponderous tones of which we are used the islanders in a community development response created a series of drawings to describe the preferred future. This was both lighthearted, engaging in an extremely powerful planning tool or over being graphic it was easy to understand and easy for islanders to take ownership of.
Another workshop which I found very challenging modelled some work which is being done in the health sector around inequality. The presenters described how the health system can unknowingly and unwittingly perpetuate inequality and described, and trialed in the workshop, a series of exercises which they have successfully used to engage health workers around the issues of inequality. What happens in these workshops is below both delightfully simple and hugely transformative. Using a series of simple games participants are encouraged to identify inequality and grapple with how it is perpetuated. In the process it is inescapable that participants begin to understand their own roles in the perpetuation of inequality and develop some tools and identity to help change this.
Another key workshop which I was involved in was how we apply the new global standards for community development. It is fair to say that the board of IACD runner where exactly how powerful this new policy has become. It is now translated into 14 languages and is the subject of workshops and conferences around the globe. In New Zealand we will be looking at applying the standards at a conference to be held in April 2020. One of the most active groups in applying the standards are based in Georgia. Anastacia and Vladimir are leaders of a group called inclusive practices which is working to bring the standards to life in the disability sector.
Other presentations which I found particularly rich were Councillor John Alexander, a very young and clearly well-loved and known City Council spoke to us about the development of a participatory budgeting process and how this was being rolled out in the most deprived communities. Stuart Fairweather took us inside the Strobwell neighbourhood representative structure. This rich multicultural organisation is absolutely grassroots and reflective of the diverse community it represents. The group are now responsible for a week-long cultural festival and a calendar of events throughout the community which runs all year. In addition to celebrating however the group is actively involved in challenging market failure particularly in the housing sector.
KK Fung, a conference veteran, spoke to us about the emerging inequality in Hong Kong and how grassroots research projects in deprived communities are creating not just knowledge but organisation. Holly Ann Scheib, with a brain the size of a planet, is a multinational research powerhouse driven by some very explicit community development values. Holly challenged researchers to understand that they were engaged in relations of power and how and where to position themselves within that she used as her case study work that she has been doing in Sierra Leone in where community development is being used as a research capacity tool in the fight against emerging diseases. Holly’s combination of powerful polemic and practical strategies made for a very inspiring session.
One other workshop that I found particularly interesting concerned the notion of community led social prescribing. I came across social prescribing for the first time at the world community development conference in Maynooth Island. Essentially social prescribing enables health practitioners particularly in primary care to refer high use patients to a community development worker who helps to engage the patient in meaningful activities in the community. Since conference I have been discussing this with a PHO director and I hope we might get a trial of social prescribing going in New Zealand next year.
The conference was full of gems far more than I can report here. Readers might be interested in the book of abstracts and conference program the links to which are below.
The full conference website can be accessed by using this link https://www.wcdc2019.org.uk/
I would like to thank the Minister for internal affairs and the Aotearoa Community Development Association for assisting with the costs of participating in this conference.
John M Stansfield.
2020 Australasia Pacific Regional Community Development Conference
In association with North Tec; International Association for Community Development and Aotearoa Community Development Association this conference is set to take place between the 20th - 22nd, April, 2020. Situated in beautiful Whangārei, Northland; we look forward to the two full days of listening and learning, participation and sharing of ideas during this conference. Get in early and mark the date down on your calendar. We'll see you there.
There is also a call for papers and participation. Practitioners, Academics and Trainers are invited to submit proposals for the upcoming 2020 Community Development Conference. We appreciate and welcome what you all can offer, so please come along and join in.
Kia ora whānau. The ACDA team would like to thank you all again for joining us and taking the time to read.
As we progress towards 2020, ACDA sends you our best wishes along your journey.