Which of the Following Best Describes a Community

xo-b.com – Which of the Following Best Describes a Community.

Examine the community and record your findings in a customs description or overview for brownie and awareness.

  • What is a customs?

  • What do nosotros mean by understanding and describing the community?

  • Why make the endeavor to understand and describe your community?

  • Whom should y’all contact to gather information?

  • How practise you lot go nigh understanding and describing the community?

For those of us who work in customs health and development, it’s important to understand community — what a community is, and the specific nature of the communities we work in. Anything we exercise in a community requires us to be familiar with its people, its issues, and its history. Carrying out an intervention or edifice a coalition are far more probable to be successful if they are informed by the culture of the community and an understanding of the relationships among individuals and groups within information technology.

Taking the time and attempt to understand your community well before embarking on a community attempt volition pay off in the long term. A good way to reach that is to create a customs description — a record of your exploration and findings. Information technology’south a good way to gain a comprehensive overview of the community — what it is now, what it’s been in the past, and what it could be in the hereafter. In this section, we’ll discuss how you lot might approach examining the community in some detail and setting down your findings in a customs description.

What is a community?

While we traditionally think of a community as the people in a given geographical location, the word can really refer to any group sharing something in common. This may refer to smaller geographic areas — a neighborhood, a housing projection or development, a rural area — or to a number of other possible communities within a larger, geographically-defined community.

These are often defined by race or ethnicity, professional person or economical ties, religion, culture, or shared background or interest:

  • The Catholic community (or religion community, a term used to refer to ane or more congregations of a specific faith).
  • The arts community
  • The African American customs
  • The teaching community
  • The business community
  • The homeless community
  • The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community
  • The medical customs
  • The Haitian community
  • The elderly community

These various communities often overlap. An African American art teacher, for example, might meet herself (or be seen by others) as a member of the African American, arts, and/or instruction communities, as well as of a item organized religion community. An Italian woman may become an intensely involved member of the ethnic and cultural customs of her Nigerian husband. Whichever customs defines your piece of work, y’all will want to go to know it well.

What practise nosotros hateful by understanding and describing the community?

Agreement the customs entails agreement information technology in a number of ways. Whether or non the community is divers geographically, it still has a geographic context — a setting that it exists in. Getting a clear sense of this setting may be cardinal to a full understanding of it. At the same fourth dimension, it’due south of import to understand the specific community you’re concerned with. You have to get to know its people — their culture, their concerns, and relationships — and to develop your own relationships with them likewise.

  • Physical aspects. Every community has a physical presence of some sort, even if but one building. Nigh have a geographic expanse or areas they are either defined by or attached to. It’s important to know the customs’s size and the look and feel of its buildings, its topography (the lay of the state — the hills, valleys, rivers, roads, and other features you’d detect on a map), and each of its neighborhoods. Also important are how diverse areas of the customs differ from one another, and whether your impression is one of clean, well-maintained houses and streets, or ane of shabbiness, clay, and neglect.

    If the community is one defined by its population, then its physical properties are too divers by the population: where they live, where they gather, the places that are of import to them. The characteristics of those places tin tell y’all a not bad bargain nearly the people who make up the community. Their cocky-image, many of their attitudes, and their aspirations are oftentimes reflected in the places where they choose — or are forced by circumstance or discrimination — to live, work, gather, and play.

  • Infrastructure. Roads, bridges, transportation (local public transportation, airports, railroad train lines), electricity, land line and mobile telephone service, broadband service, and similar “basics” brand upwardly the infrastructure of the customs, without which information technology couldn’t function.
  • Patterns of settlement, commerce, and industry. Where are those physical spaces we’ve been discussing? Communities reveal their graphic symbol by where and how they create living and working spaces. Where there are true slums —  substandard housing in areas with few or no services that are the merely options for low-income people — the value the larger customs places on those residents seems articulate. Are heavy industries located adjacent to residential neighborhoods? If so, who lives in those neighborhoods? Are some parts of the community dangerous, either because of high law-breaking and violence or because of unsafe conditions in the congenital or natural surround?
  • Demographics.  It’s vital to understand who makes up the community.  Age, gender, race and ethnicity, marital status, education, number of people in household, first language — these and other statistics brand up the demographic profile of the population. When you put them together (e.chiliad.,  the teaching level of black women ages 18-24), it gives you a clear picture of who customs residents are.
  • History. The long-term history of the customs can tell you well-nigh community traditions, what the community is, or has been, proud of, and what residents would prefer not to talk near. Recent history can afford valuable information most conflicts and factions within the community, important issues, past and electric current relationships among key people and groups — many of the factors that can trip up any attempt before information technology starts if you don’t know nigh and address them.
  • Community leaders, formal and informal. Some customs leaders are elected or appointed — mayors, city councilors, directors of public works. Others are considered leaders because of their activities or their positions in the community — community activists, corporate CEO’s, higher presidents, doctors, clergy.  All the same others are recognized equally leaders because, they are trusted for their proven integrity, courage, and/or care for others and the practiced of the community.
  • Community culture, formal and informal. This covers the spoken and unspoken rules and traditions by which the community lives. It tin include everything from community events and slogans — the approving of the fishing fleet, the “Artichoke Uppercase of the Globe” — to norms of behavior — turning a bullheaded center to alcohol corruption or domestic violence — to patterns of bigotry and exercise of ability. Understanding the civilization and how it developed tin be crucial, especially if that’s what you’re attempting to alter.
  • Existing groups.  Most communities take an array of groups and organizations of different kinds — service clubs (Lions, Rotary, etc.), religion groups, youth organizations, sports teams and clubs, groups formed around shared interests, the boards of customs-broad organizations (the YMCA, the symphony, United Way), also as groups devoted to self-assist, advocacy, and activism.  Knowing of the being and importance of each of these groups can pave the fashion for alliances or for understanding opposition.
  • Existing institutions. Every customs has institutions that are important to it, and that have more or less credibility with residents. Colleges and universities, libraries, religious institutions, hospitals — all of these and many others can occupy important places in the community. Information technology’due south important to know what they are, who represents them, and what influence they wield.
  • Economics.  Who are the major employers in the community?  What, if whatsoever, business or industry is the community’s base? Who, if anyone, exercises economical ability? How is wealth distributed? Would you characterize the community as poor, working, class, middle class, or flush?  What are the economic prospects of the population in general and/or the population yous’re concerned with?
  • Government/Politics. Understanding the structure of community authorities is evidently important. Some communities may have strong mayors and weak city councils, others the contrary. Nonetheless other communities may have no mayor at all, but only a town manager, or may accept a different form of government entirely.  Any the government structure, where does political power lie? Understanding where the real ability is can be the difference between a successful effort and a vain one.
  • Social structure. Many aspects of social structure are integrated into other areas — relationships, politics, economics — just there are also the questions of how people in the community chronicle to i another on a daily footing, how problems are (or aren’t) resolved, who socializes or does business with whom, etc. This surface area too includes perceptions and symbols of condition and respect, and whether status carries entitlement or responsibility (or both).
  • Attitudes and values. Over again, much of this expanse may be covered past investigation into others, particularly culture. What does the community intendance almost, and what does it ignore? What are residents’ assumptions about the proper manner to bear, to apparel, to do business, to treat others? Is at that place widely accepted bigotry against 1 or more groups by the bulk or by those in power? What are the norms for interaction among those who with different opinions or different backgrounds?

We’ll discuss all of these aspects of community in greater item later in the department.

There are obviously many more aspects of community that tin be explored, such as health or education.  The assumption here is that equally part of an assessment, y’all’ll aim for a general agreement of the customs, every bit described in this section, and besides assess, with a narrower focus, the specific aspects you’re interested in.

Once you’ve explored the relevant areas of the community, y’all’ll have the information to create a community clarification. Depending on your needs and information, this description might be annihilation from a two-or three-page outline to an in-depth portrait of the community that extends to tens of pages and includes charts, graphs, photographs, and other elements. The point of doing it is to accept a picture of the community at a item point in time that y’all can employ to provide a context for your community assessment and to see the results of whatever actions you take to bring almost alter.

A customs description tin can be every bit creative as you’re capable of making it.  Information technology tin can be written as a story, tin can incorporate photos and commentary from community residents (run across Photovoice), tin exist done online and include audio and video, etc. The more interesting the description is, the more people are likely to actually read information technology.

Why make the effort to sympathize and describe your community?

Y’all may at this betoken be thinking, “Can’t I work effectively inside this customs without gathering all this information?” Peradventure, if it’s a community you’re already familiar with, and really know it well. If you’re new to the community, or an outsider, nevertheless, it’s a different story. Not having the proper background information on your customs may not seem like a big deal until you unintentionally find yourself on one side of a bitter divide, or go involved in an consequence without knowing virtually its long and tangled history.

Some advantages to taking the time to understand the community and create a customs description include:

  • Gaining a general idea, even earlier an assessment, of the community’s strengths and the challenges it faces.
  • Capturing unspoken, influential rules and norms. For example, if people are divided and angry about a detail issue, your data might bear witness you lot an event in the community’southward history that explains their strong emotions on that field of study.
  • Getting a feel for the attitudes and opinions of the community when you’re starting work on an initiative.
  • Ensuring the security of your organization’southward staff and participants.  There may exist neighborhoods where staff members or participants should be accompanied past others in order to be safe, at to the lowest degree at night. Knowing the character of various areas and the invisible borders that exist amid various groups and neighborhoods can be extremely important for the physical safety of those working and living in the community.
  • Having enough familiarity with the community to allow you to antipodal intelligently with residents virtually community issues, personalities and geography. Knowing that you’ve taken the time and endeavour to get to know them and their environment can assistance yous to establish trust with community members.  That can make both a community assessment and any actions and activities that result from information technology easier to conduct.
  • Beingness able to talk convincingly with the media virtually the community.
  • Being able to share information with other organizations or coalitions that work in the community so that y’all can interact or so that everyone’s work can do good.
  • Providing background and justification for grant proposals.
  • Knowing the context of the customs and so that you tin tailor interventions and programs to its norms and culture, and increase your chances of success.
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When should y’all make an endeavour to sympathize and describe the community?

  • When you’re about to launch a community assessment.  The first footstep is to get a clear sense of the community, before more specifically assessing the area(s) you’re interested in.
  • When you lot’re new to a community and want to be well informed earlier beginning your work. If you’ve just started working in a customs — fifty-fifty if information technology’due south piece of work you’ve been doing for years — yous will probably find that taking the fourth dimension to write a community clarification enriches your work.
  • When you’ve been working in a community for any length of time and want to take stock. Communities are complex, constantly-changing entities. By periodically stopping to write a detailed description of your customs, yous tin can appraise what approaches have worked and what oasis’t; new needs that accept developed over time and sometime concerns that no longer require your endeavor and free energy; and other information to help you better practice your work.
  • When y’all’re feeling like y’all’re stuck in a rut and demand a fresh perspective. Organizations accept to remain dynamic in order to keep moving forward. Reexamining the community — or possibly examining it carefully for the first time — can infuse an organisation with new ideas and new purpose.
  • When you’re considering introducing a new initiative or programme and desire to appraise its possible success.Aside from when you first come to a community, this is probably the nearly vital time to do a customs description.
  • When a funder asks you to, often as part of a funding proposal.

While researching and writing a community description can take time, your work can almost always benefit from the information you lot get together.

Whom should you contact to assemble information?

Much of your best and well-nigh interesting information may come from community members with no particular credentials except that they’re role of the community. Information technology’due south especially important to get the perspective of those who ofttimes don’t have a voice in community decisions and politics — low-income people, immigrants, and others who are often kept out of the community discussion. In improver, however, there are some specific people that it might be of import to talk to. They’re the individuals in key positions, or those who are trusted by a big part of the community or past a particular population. In a typical customs, they might include:

  • Elected officials
  • Community planners and development officers
  • Chiefs of police
  • School superintendents, principals, and teachers
  • Directors or staff of wellness and human service organizations
  • Wellness professionals
  • Clergy
  • Customs activists
  • Housing advocates
  • Presidents or chairs of borough or service clubs — Chamber of Commerce, veterans’ organizations, Lions, Rotary, etc.
  • People without titles, just identified past others every bit “customs leaders”
  • Owners or CEO’s of large businesses (these may be local or may exist large corporations with local branches)

How do yous go about understanding and describing the community?

General Guidelines

To begin, allow’s look at some basic principles to keep in mind.

  • Be prepared to learn from the community. Assume that you lot have a lot to learn, and approach the process with an open mind. Listen to what people take to say. Observe carefully. Have notes — you tin can use them afterward to generate new questions or to help answer onetime ones.
  • Be aware that people’s speech, thoughts, and actions are non always rational. Their attitudes and behavior  are often best understood in the context of their history, social relations, and civilisation. Race relations in the U.Due south., for example, tin can’t be understood without knowing some of the historical context — the history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the work of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Motility.
  • Don’t assume that the information people give you lot is necessarily accurate. In that location are a number of reasons why informants may tell you things that are inaccurate. People’s perceptions don’t e’er reflect reality, but are colored instead past what they think or what they recollect they know.  In add-on, some may intentionally exaggerate or downplay particular conditions or issues for their ain purposes or for what they meet as the greater adept. (The Chamber of Commerce or local government officials might endeavour to make economic conditions expect amend than they are in the hopes of attracting new concern to the community, for instance.)  Others may simply exist mistaken virtually what they tell yous  — the geographical boundaries of a particular neighborhood, for example, or the yr of an important effect. Get data, particularly on bug, conditions, and relationships from many sources if yous can. As fourth dimension goes on, you’ll learn who the always-reliable sources are.
  • Beware of activities that may change people’s beliefs. It’southward well known that people (and animals as well) can modify their normal behavior every bit a outcome of knowing they’re existence studied.  Neighborhood residents may make clean up their yards if they’re aware that someone is taking the measure of the neighborhood. Customs members may endeavor to appear as they wish to be seen, rather than equally they really are, if they know y’all’re watching. To the extent that yous tin can, try non to do anything that will change the style people become about their daily business or express themselves. That ordinarily means being every bit unobtrusive as possible — not being obvious about taking pictures or making notes, for case. In some circumstances, it could hateful trying to gain trust and insight through participant observation.

Participant observation is a technique that anthropologists apply.  Information technology entails condign part of another culture, both to go along people in information technology from beingness influenced past your presence and to understand information technology from the inside.  Some researchers believe it addresses the trouble of changing the culture by studying information technology, and others believe that information technology makes the problem worse.

  • Take advantage of the information and facilities that help shape the world of those who have lived in the community for a long time. Read the local paper (and the culling paper, likewise, if at that place is i), listen to local radio, lookout man local TV, listen to conversation in cafes and bars, in barbershops and beauty shops.  Y’all can learn a great deal about a community by immersing yourself in its internal communication. The Sleeping room of Commerce will usually have a list of expanse businesses and organizations, forth with their contact people, which should give you both points of contact and a sense of who the people are that you might want to get in touch with. Go to the library — local librarians are often treasure troves of data, and their professional goal is to spread it around. Cheque out message boards at supermarkets and laundromats.  Fifty-fifty graffiti tin be a valuable source of data about customs problems.
  • Network, network, network.  Every contact you brand in the community has the potential to lead you to more contacts. Whether you’re talking to official or unofficial community leaders or to people you just met on the street, ever ask who else they would recommend that you talk to and whether you tin can use their names when you contact those people. Establishing relationships with a variety of community members is probably the almost important affair yous can do to ensure that you’ll be able to get the information you need, and that you’ll take support for working in the community when you finish your assessment and brainstorm your endeavour.

Gathering data

To find out about various aspects of the community, you lot’ll need a number of different methods of gathering information. We’ve already discussed some of them, and many of the remaining sections of this chapter deal with them, because they’re the aforementioned methods you’ll use in doing a full customs assessment. Here, we’ll simply list them, with curt explanations and links to sections where you tin can get more than information about each.

  • Public records and archives. These include local, country, and federal regime statistics and records, newspaper athenaeum, and the records of other organizations that they’re willing to share. Many of the public documents are available at public and/or academy libraries and on line at government websites. Nearly communities have their own websites, which oftentimes comprise valuable information too.
  • Individual and group interviews. Interviews tin range from casual conversations in a buffet to structured formal interviews in which the interviewer asks the aforementioned specific questions of a number of carefully chosen key informants. They tin can exist conducted with individuals or groups, in all kinds of different places and circumstances. They’re often the best sources of information, merely they’re also time-consuming and involve finding the right people and convincing them to consent to be interviewed, as well every bit finding (and sometimes training) practiced interviewers.

Interviews may include enlisting as sources of data others who’ve spent time learning about the community.  University researchers, staff and administrators of wellness and human being service organizations, and activists may all have done considerable work to understand the character and inner workings of the community.  Take advantage of their findings if you can.  It may relieve y’all many hours of endeavour.

  • Surveys. There are various types of surveys. They can be written or oral, conducted with a selected minor grouping — usually a randomized sample that represents a larger population — or with as many community members as possible. They can be sent through the mail, administered over the phone or in person, or given to specific groups (school classes, faith congregations, the Rotary Society). They’re often adequately brusque, and enquire for answers that are either yep-no, or that rate the survey-taker’s opinion of a number of possibilities (typically on a calibration that represents “concur strongly” to “disagree strongly” or “very favorable” to “very unfavorable.”)  Surveys can, however, be much more than comprehensive, with many questions, and can ask for more complex answers.
  • Direct or participant observation.  Oftentimes the best way to observe out about the community is simply to discover. You tin can discover physical features, conditions in diverse areas, the interactions of people in different neighborhoods and circumstances, the amount of traffic, commercial activity, how people employ various facilities and spaces, or the evidence of previous events or decisions. Participant observation means becoming role of the group or scene you’re observing, so that you can meet it from the inside.

Observation tin have many forms.  In addition to simply going to a place and taking notes on what you meet, you might utilize other techniques — Photovoice, video, audio, uncomplicated photographs, drawings, etc.  Don’t limit the ways in which you can record your observations and impressions.

Understanding the Community

Now permit’southward consider what you might examine to understand and describe the customs. You lot won’t necessarily look for this information in the club given here, although it’s a adept thought to get-go with the first two.

The community’s concrete characteristics.

Get a map of the community and drive and/or walk around. (If the community isn’t defined by geography, note and observe the areas where its members live, work, and get together.) Discover both the built and the natural environment. In the built environment, some things to pay attention to are:

  • The historic period, architecture, and condition of housing and other buildings. Some shabby or poorly-maintained housing may occupy good buildings that could be stock-still upwardly, for example — that’s important to know. Is at that place substandard housing in the customs? Await for new construction, and new developments, and take note of where they are, and whether they’re replacing existing housing or businesses or calculation to it. (You might desire to find out more about these. Are they controversial? Was there opposition to them, and how was it resolved? Does the community offer incentives to developers, and, if then, for what?)  Is housing separated by income or other factors, so that all low-income residents, for instance, or all North African immigrants seem to live in one area away from others? Are buildings generally in practiced condition, or are they dirty and run-down? Are there buildings that expect similar they might have historic significance, and are they kept up? Are nearly buildings attainable to people with disabilities?
  • Commercial areas.  Are in that location stores and other businesses in walking distance of residential areas or of public transportation for most members of the community? Do commercial buildings present windows and displays or blank walls to pedestrians? Is there foot traffic and activity in commercial areas, or do they seem deserted? Is there a skilful mix of local businesses, or nothing but chain stores? Are there theaters, places to hear music, a diversity of restaurants, and other types of entertainment? Do many buildings include public spaces — indoor or outdoor plazas where people can sit, for example? In general, are commercial areas and buildings bonny and well-maintained?
  • The types and location of industrial facilities. What kind of industry exists in the community? Does it seem to have a lot of environmental impact — noise, air or water pollution, smells, heavy traffic? Is it located close to residential areas, and, if so, who lives there? Is there some endeavor to make industrial facilities bonny — landscaping, murals or imaginative colour schemes on the outside, etc?
  • Infrastructure.  What condition are streets in?  Practice most streets, at least in residential and commercial areas, accept sidewalks? Bike lanes? Are pedestrians shielded from traffic by trees, grass strips, and/or plantings? Are roads acceptable for the traffic they bear? Are there human foot bridges across busy highways and railroad tracks, or practise they separate areas of the community and pose dangers for pedestrians? Is there acceptable public transportation, with facilities for people with physical disabilities? Does it reach all areas of the customs? Tin can nigh people gain access to the Internet if they take the equipment (i.e., computers or properly equipped cell phones)?

This is a topic that is ripe for exam. In many rural areas, particularly in developing countries, but ofttimes in the developed world as well, there is very niggling infrastructure.  Roads and bridges may be impassable at sure (or well-nigh) times of year, telephone service and Goggle box reception nonexistent, Internet admission a distant dream. Public transportation in many places, if information technology exists at all, may take the form of a pickup truck or 20-year-erstwhile van that takes as many passengers equally can squeeze into or onto the bed, passenger compartment, and roof. Is whatever of this on the government’s or anyone else’s radar as a situation that needs to be addressed? What is the general policy virtually services to rural and/or poor populations?  Answers to these and similar questions may both explain the situation (and the attitudes of the local population) and highlight a number of possible courses of action.

In the category of natural features, we can include both areas that accept been largely left to nature, and “natural” spaces created by human intervention.

  • Topography. An area’s topography is the shape of its mural. Is the community largely hilly, largely flat, or does information technology contain areas of both? Is water — rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds, canals, seashore — a noticeable or important part of the physical graphic symbol of the customs? Who lives in what areas of the customs?
  • Open space and greenery.
    Is there open up space scattered throughout the community, or is it limited to 1 or a few areas? How much open space is in that location? Is information technology mostly man-fabricated (parks, commons, campuses, sports fields), or is there wilderness or semi-wilderness? Does the customs give the impression  of being green and leafy, with lots of trees and grass, or is information technology mostly concrete or dirt?
  • Air and water. Is the air reasonably articulate and clean, or is there a blanket of smog? Does the air more often than not smell fresh, or are there industrial or other unpleasant odors? Do rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water appear make clean? Do they seem to exist used for recreation (boating, swimming, angling)?

In that location is an overlap betwixt the customs’s concrete and social characteristics. Does the lay of the state make information technology hard to get from ane part of the community to another? (Biking, or in some cases even walking, is hard in San Francisco, for example, considering of the length and steepness of the hills.)  Are there clear social divisions that mirror the landscape — all the fancy houses in the hills, all the depression-income housing in the flats, for instance?

Studying the physical layout of the community volition serve you not only as information, but as a guide for finding your mode effectually, knowing what people are talking nigh when they refer to diverse areas and neighborhoods, and gaining a sense of the living weather condition of any populations you lot’re concerned with.

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Customs demographics.

Demographics are the facts about the population that you tin find from census information and other similar statistical information. Some things you might like to know, likewise the number of people in the customs:

  • Gender
  • Racial and indigenous background
  • Age.  Numbers and percentages of the population in various age groups
  • Marital condition
  • Family size
  • Teaching
  • Income
  • Employment – Both the numbers of people employed full and part-time, and the numbers of people in various types of work
  • Location – Knowing which groups live in which neighborhoods or areas can help to recruit participants in a potential effort or to determine where to target activities

In the U.South., well-nigh of this and other demographic data is available from the U.S. Census, from country and local authorities websites, or from other government agencies.  Depending on what issues and countries you’re concerned with, some sources of data might be the U.Due south. Centers for Affliction Command, the U.S. Section of Health and Human being Services, similar websites in other countries, and the diverse agencies of the United Nations.

On many of these websites, notably the U.Due south. Census, diverse categories tin can be combined, so that you can, for example, find out the income levels in your customs for African American women anile 25-34 with a high school education. If the website won’t do information technology for you lot, it’s adequately like shooting fish in a barrel to trace the patterns yourself, thus giving you a much clearer picture of who community residents are and what their lives might be like.

Another extremely useful resource is County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, which provides rankings for nearly every canton in the nation. The County Health Rankings model includes four types of wellness factors: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economical, and the physical environs. The County Health Rankings illustrate what we know when information technology comes to what’s making people ill or salubrious, and the new County Health Roadmaps show what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play. These reports tin can aid community leaders see that our environment influences how salubrious we are and how long we live, and fifty-fifty what parts of our environment are most influential.

Customs history.

This can be a complex topic. The “standard” history — when the community was founded and by whom, how long information technology has existed, how people lived there in the past, its major sources of work, etc. — can often be found in the local library or paper athenaeum, or even in books or manufactures written for a larger audience. The less comfortable parts of that history, especially recent history — discrimination, conflict, economic and/or political domination by a small group — are may non exist included, and are more probable to be found by talking to activists, journalists, and others who are concerned with those issues. You might also gain information by reading between the lines of old newspaper articles and tracking down people who were role of past conflicts or events.

If this all sounds a lot like investigative reporting, that’due south considering information technology is.  You may not accept the time or skills to practise much of it, simply talking to activists and journalists virtually recent history can be crucial.  Stepping into a community with an intervention or initiative without understanding the dynamics of community history can be a recipe for failure.

Customs government and politics.

Thither are a number of ways to learn about the structure and functioning of local government:

  • Become to open meetings of the city council, town boards, board of selectmen, or other bodies, as well as to public forums on proposed actions, laws, and regulations.  Such meetings will be announced in the local newspaper.

In most of the U.S., these meetings are public by state law, and must be announced in specific means at least ii days ahead.

  • Community bylaws and regulations are often available at the public library.
  • Make an date to talk to 1 or more local regime officials.  Many hold regular part hours, and might really have pleasure in explaining the workings of the local regime.
  • Talk to community activists for a view of how the government actually operates, as opposed to how it’s supposed to operate.
  • Read the local paper every mean solar day.

Reading the newspaper every day is a good thought in general if you’re trying to learn about the community.  It will non just have stories about how the community operates, but volition give yous a sense of what’southward of import to its readers, what kinds of activities the community engages in and views as meaning, what the law do — a picture of a large office of community life. Real manor ads will tell you about property values and the demand for housing, ads for services can assist yous identify the major businesses in town, and the ages and education levels of the people in the marriage and nascency announcements can speak volumes most customs values.  Newspaper archives tin also reveal the stories that aid you understand the emotions withal surrounding events and bug that don’t seem electric current.  The newspaper is an enormous reservoir of both direct and between-the-lines data.

As we all know, government isn’t just most the rules and structures that hold it together. It’south about people and their interactions…politics, in other words. The political climate, culture, and assumptions in a particular community ofttimes depend more on who elected and appointed officials are than on the limits or duties of their offices.

The politics of many communities embody the platonic of government working for the public good. In other communities, politics takes a back seat to economics, and politicians listen largely to those with economic power — the CEO’due south, owners, and directors of large businesses and institutions.  In all the same others, the emphasis is on power itself, so that political decisions are made specifically to keep a particular party, group, or individual in control.

Obviously, only in the beginning instance is the public well served. In the other situations, fairness and equity tend to go out the window and decisions favor the powerful. Understanding the politics of the customs — who has ability, who the power brokers are, who actually influences the setting of policy, how decisions are made and by whom, how much difference public opinion makes — is fundamental to an agreement of the community as a whole.

There’s no formal way to get this data. Regime officials may have very different interpretations of the political scene than activists or other community members. You’ll take to talk to a variety of people, have a good expect at recent political controversies and decisions (here’s where newspaper archives can come up in handy), and juggle some contradicting stories to get at the reality.

Institutions.

Community institutions, unless they are dysfunctional, can more often than not be viewed equally avails. Finding them should exist easy: as mentioned above, the Bedchamber of Commerce will probably have a list of them, the library will probably have one as well, the local newspaper will often list them, and they’ll be in the phone book.

Read:   What Cultural Value Can Be Inferred From This Passage

They cover the spectrum of community life, including:

  • Offices of local, state, and federal government agencies (Welfare, Dept. of Agriculture, Role of Immigration, etc.)
  • Public libraries.
  • Religious institutions. Churches, synagogues, mosques.
  • Cultural institutions.  Museums, theaters, concert halls, etc. and the companies they support.  These may also comprehend community theater and music companies run and staffed by customs volunteer boards and performers.
  • Customs centers.  Customs centers may provide athletic, cultural, social, and other (yoga, support groups) activities for a diverseness of ages.
  • YMCA’due south and similar institutions.
  • Senior centers.
  • Hospitals and public wellness services.
  • Colleges and universities.
  • Public and individual schools.
  • Public sports facilities. These might be both facilities for the direct apply of the public — community pools and athletic fields, for example — or stadiums and arena where school, higher, or professional teams play as amusement.

Groups and organizations.

The groups and organizations that exist in the community, and their relative prestige and importance in community life, can convey valuable clues to the customs’south assumptions and attitudes. To some extent, you can find them in the same ways that yous tin can find institutions, but the less formal ones you may be more than probable to learn near through interviews and conversations.

These groups can autumn into a number of categories:

  • Health and human service organizations.  Known on the world stage every bit NGO’s (Not-Governmental Organizations), these are the organizations that work largely with low-income people and populations at gamble. They encompass free or sliding-scale wellness clinics, family unit planning programs, mental health centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, teen parent programs, youth outreach organizations, violence prevention programs, etc.
  • Advancement organizations. These may also provide services, simply generally in the form of legal help or advancement with agencies to protect the rights of specific groups or to push button for the provision of specific services. Past and large, they abet for recognition and services for populations with particular characteristics, or for more attention to be paid to particular issues.
  • Service clubs. Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Masons, etc.
  • Veterans’ organizations. In the U.S., the American Legion and the Veterans of Strange Wars are the major veterans’ organizations, but many communities may have others as well.
  • Chamber of Commerce and other business organization organizations. Some of these may be oriented toward specific types of businesses, while others, like the Chamber, are more general.
  • Groups connected to institutions. Church building youth or Bible study groups, school clubs, university student groups (e.g., Foreign Students’ Association, customs service groups).
  • Trade unions. These may be local, or branches of national or international unions.
  • Sports clubs or leagues. Enthusiasts of many sports organize local leagues that concord regular competitions, and that may compete as well with teams from other communities. In many rural areas, Fish and Game clubs may function as informal community centers.
  • Informal groups. Book clubs, garden clubs, parents’ groups, etc.

Economic science/employment.

Some of the information well-nigh economic issues tin can be found in public records, merely some will come up from interviews or conversations with concern people, government officials, and activists, and some from observation. It’due south fairly piece of cake to notice if i huge industrial plant dominates a community, for example, or if every tertiary edifice appears to be a construction visitor. There are a number of questions you might ask yourself and others to assist you empathise the community’southward economic base and state of affairs: What is the anchor of the customs’s tax base? Who are the major employers? Does the community have a particular concern or business/manufacture category that underlies almost of the jobs? Are there lots of locally-owned businesses and industries, or are nigh parts of larger corporations headquartered elsewhere?  Are in that location corporate headquarters in the community? Is there a good deal of role infinite, and is it empty or occupied?  Is there new evolution, and is the community attracting new concern? What is the unemployment rate?

Social structure.

This may be the almost hard aspect of the community to sympathize, since information technology incorporates most of the others we’ve discussed, and is commonly unspoken. People’s answers to questions well-nigh it may ignore of import points, either considering they seem obvious to those who’ve lived with them for all or most of their lives, or because those things “simply aren’t talked about.” Distrust or actual discrimination aimed at detail groups — based on race, form, economics, or all three — may be glossed over or never mentioned. The question of who wields the real ability in the community is another that may rarely be answered, or at least not answered in the same fashion by a majority of customs members. It’due south likely that information technology will take a number of conversations, some careful observation and some intuition likewise to gain a real sense of the customs’s social structure.

Describing the Community

One time you’ve gathered the information you need, the adjacent step is describing the customs. This is not really separate from understanding the customs: in the process of organizing and writing down your data, you’ll be able to run across improve how it fits together, and tin proceeds greater understanding.

There are many ways you can create a description of the community. The most obvious is simply to organize, record, and annotate on your information past category:  concrete description, government, institutions, etc. Yous tin comment about what has changed in the community over time, what has stayed the aforementioned, and where you lot think the community might exist going. You might also include an analysis of how the various categories interact, and how that all comes together to class the community that exists. That will give y’all and anyone else interested a reasonably clear and objective description of the community, every bit well as a sense of how you see it.

For a fuller picture, you could add together photographs of some of the locations, people, atmospheric condition, or interactions you describe (perhaps every bit a Photovoice project), besides as charts or graphs of demographic or statistical information. For even more than detail, yous might compose a portrait in words of the customs, using quotes from interviews and stories of community history to bring the description to life.

Given the availability of technology, you don’t have to limit yourself to any specific format. Computers let you lot to easily combine various media — photos, graphics, animation, text, and sound, for example. The description could  add together in or take the course of a video that includes a bout of the customs, statements from and/or interviews with various community members (with their permission, of course), an audio voice-over, maps, etc.  A video or a more text-based description — or both — could and then be posted to a website where it would be available to anyone interested.

Once you have a description put together, you lot might want to show it to some of the community members you lot talked to in the course of exploring the community. They tin advise other things you might include, correct errors of fact, and react to what they consider the accurateness or inaccuracy of your portrait and analysis of their community. With this feedback, yous can and so create a final version to use and to show to anyone interested. The signal is to get as informative and accurate a picture of the customs as possible that will serve every bit a ground for customs assessment and whatsoever endeavor that grows out of it.

The concluding word here is that this shouldn’t be the last customs description you’ll ever do. Communities reinvent themselves constantly, as new buildings and developments are put up and old ones torn downward, every bit businesses movement in and out, as populations shift — both inside the customs and as people and groups move in and out — and as economic, social, and political conditions alter. You have to keep upward with those changes, and that ways updating your community description regularly.  As with about of the rest of the community edifice piece of work described in the Customs Tool Box, the work of understanding and describing the customs is ongoing, for as long as y’all remain committed to the community itself.

In Summary

Understanding a community is crucial to being able to work in it. Declining to sympathize it will deny yous credibility and get in difficult for you both to connect with customs members and to negotiate the twists and turns of starting and implementing a customs initiative or intervention. An extremely important role of any community assessment, therefore, is to offset past finding out as much most the community as you tin can — its physical and geographical characteristics, its culture, its government, and its assumptions. By combing through existing data, observing, and learning from community members, you can gain an overview of the community that will serve you well. Recording your findings and your assay of them in a community clarification that you tin can refer to and update every bit needed volition go along your understanding fresh and assist others in your system or with whom you collaborate.

Online Resources

Acommunity description of Nashua, New Hampshire.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. Ranking the health of nearly every canton in the nation, the County Health Rankings assist us see how where we live, learn, work, and play influences how healthy we are and how long nosotros live. The Rankings & Roadmaps show us what is making residents sick, where nosotros need to amend, and what steps communities are taking to solve their issues. The health of a customs depends on many unlike factors – ranging from individual health behaviors, educational activity and jobs, to quality of health care, to the environment, therefore we all have a stake in creating a healthier community. Using the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, leaders and advocates from public health and wellness care, business organization, education, government, and the community can work together to create programs and policies to amend people’due south health, reduce health care costs, and increase productivity.

Describing the Community, from a WHO (World Health Organization) transmission: Emergency Preparedness: A Transmission for Managers and Policy Makers.  WHO, 1999.

The Distressed Communities Index (DCI) is a customized dataset created by EIG examining economical distress throughout the country and made upwards of interactive maps, infographics, and a study. It captures data from more than 25,000 zip codes (those with populations over 500 people). In all, it covers 99 percent — 312 million — of Americans.

Ericae.net is a clearinghouse for information on evaluation, cess, and research data.

ThisHuman Development Index Map is a valuable tool fromMeasure of America: A Project of the Social Science Inquiry Council. It combines indicators in 3 primal areas – health, knowledge, and standard of living – into a single number that falls on a scale from 0 to x, and is presented on an easy-to-navigate interactive map of the United States.

The
Plant of Medicine advances scientific noesis to amend health and provides data and advice concerning health policy.

TheNational Constitute for Literacy provides data well-nigh research and initiatives to expand the community of literacy practitioners, students, and policymakers.

Sustainable Measures provides a searchable database of indicators by broad topics (health, housing) and keywords (AIDS, access to care, nascency weight, etc.) for communities, organizations and government agencies at all levels.

U.Due south. Department of Health and Human Services, the principal agency for protecting the wellness of U.Due south. citizens, is comprised of 12 agencies that provide data on their specific domains, such as theAdministration on Aging. Others cross health boundaries, such equally theCenters for Illness Control, which maintains national health statistics. The
“WONDER”
system is an access bespeak to a wide diversity of CDC reports, guidelines, and public wellness information to help in research, decision-making, priority setting, and resource allotment.

TheU.Southward. National Plant of Mental Health provides statistics and educational information for the public as well as information for researchers.

Print Resources

Jones, B. (1979). Defining your neighborhood.
In Neighborhood Planning: A Guide for Citizens and Planners. Chicago, IL: Planners Press, pp. 8-11.

Scheie, D. (1991). August-September). Tools for taking stock.
The Neighborhood Works. Chicago, IL: Middle for Neighborhood Technology, pp. 16-17.

Spradley, J. P. (1980). Locating a social situation.
In Participant Ascertainment. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pp. 45-52.

Warren, R.B., Warren, D.I. (1977).
The Neighborhood Organizer’s Handbook. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, pp.167-196.

Which of the Following Best Describes a Community

Source: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/describe-the-community/main

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