Community Projects and School Projects

In The Green Belt Movement, Chapter 8 - Lessons Learned, Dr. Wangari Maathai writes ...

"Lesson 1 - Community development initiatives should address community felt needs.

Many people in developing countries are both poor and concerned about basic needs like food, water, clothing and education. Therefore, development projects must address such needs and not those the community considers luxurious. This is why the Green Belt Movement uses tree planting as an entry point into communities since the trees meet many felt needs of rural communities.

It is necessary to conduct community needs assessments, because, first, they help to identify and prioritize the needs that given communities have. Secondly, one can use the information to identify those inter related needs that can be addressed simultaneously through appropriate projects. Thirdly, it guides planners and motivators in the selection of development approaches that are acceptable and practical to communities.

This assessment is extremely important, because if an initiative does not address a community felt need, it is likely to grind to a halt after the initial excitement of the community members subsides.

Lesson 2 - The message must make sense to the participants.

Messages such as the protection of generic resources, concerns over climate change and ozone layer depletion are very important to conservationists. But how does one explain their importance to community members, the majority of whom are illiterate or semi illiterate? It is necessary to deliver the conservation message in a manner that the audience will understand and appreciate.

For instance, one can ask community members to list the various ways that their families used the local bio diversity (e.g. as medicine, for construction, in traditional value and spiritual based ceremonies, as food and fodder). ... Once such powerful but simple messages are understood, people become convinced and begin to take action.

Lesson 3 - There is need for good leadership

Many rural communities have experienced corruption and deceit, so much so that some now practice it as if it is the norm. Some say it is the only development "benefit" that trickled down from the top. ... Yet most stakeholders prefer an honest, fair and just system. Therefore, if a community feels that a given project is honestly run and designed to specifically benefit them, they will support and develop a strong sense of belonging to it." Pages 80-83

Watch - Taxpayers are helping to pay for corporate executives to travel to a destination golf resort in the hard-luck town of Bandon, Ore.

Pick a Project:

Examine a past, current or planned community development project or quality of life project in your region or state.
Examine it in terms of community felt needs, message and good leadership. How do Maathai's words hold true?

If there are no appropriate projects in your community, consider it in regards to a program offered at your school.

Extend your thinking - Consider the issues around PlayPumps and clean drinking water.

Earmarks | Earmarks versus Bridges | Government, Statistics and the Media | The Unforeseen - who wins?

Government Integrity - The Power of facts from the Web

Map tree inventory | Green Maps Around the World

Watch: The First Women Barefoot Solar Engineers of the World

Tech Tip: Working in a group or in two different places like the library & home? You do not have to be physically together to work together. gold star Watch Google Docs video TAI - How could you use Google Docs to do a project? How would this facilitate group projects?


People see what they believe, not vice versa, when it comes to social injustice. Jeanna Bryner

Food for thought:

American Murder Mystery - A criminologist and a housing expert, each engaged in separate, unrelated research, have discovered an overlap between the destruction of inner city housing projects and an increase in crime in historically quiet neighborhoods.

CSPAN Washington Journal 6/26/2008 - Hanna Rosin discusses her article about the Memphis research and the impact the findings could have on the national effort to diffuse inner-city poverty. Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic, July/August 2008. Printable document of article | Consequences from the Redistribution of Urban Poverty During the 1990's, A Cautionary Tale by George C. Galster.

The United States of Art - Explore examples of public art in this interactive Google map. Add you town or region's public art to the map.

Works Cited:

Maathai, Wangari The Green Belt Movement, New York: Lantern Books 2004.

Center for Media and Democracy - PR Watch investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda

CARE Turns Down U.S. Food Aid - Time Aug. 15, 2007 By Eben Harrell

Jobs related - The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for Surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying technicians
grew by 21% in 2006 Much faster than average growth. Increasing demand for fast, accurate, and complete geographic information is
expected to lead to new jobs for these workers.

Geoscientists jobs grew by 22% in 2006. Much faster than average growth. The need for energy, environmental protection, and land and water management is expected to spur growth. Those with a master’s degree should have excellent opportunities, especially in the management, scientific, and technical consulting industry. Budget constraints are expected to limit opportunities in governments.


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developed by Cynthia J. O'Hora Released to public domain and Posted 1/2007

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