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Community development can occur on multiple levels, and the community development skills needed depend largely on which capacity a person wishes to become involved. Communication, organization, and creative thinking make up the backbones of successful community developers. The term community development broadly describes improvement of a local or regional community. The improvements may manifest themselves socioeconomically as well as through means such as crime reduction or facility implementation.
Community development skills may be innate for some, but others can work toward acquiring these important characteristics. The skill sets are very specific to the types of community development. For example, a city planner hoping to improve the lives of those living in his or her community needs a different skill set than a social worker spending his or her days with recovering addicts. Both roles are uniquely important for local improvements but require different strengths.
For the sake of simplicity, community development can be broken down into two groups: the broad view and the foot soldiers. The broad view deals with the individuals making decisions about a community. These decisions could refer to city planning, allocation of funding, or local laws pertaining to a community. The foot soldiers are the people working with members of the community to implement the plans made by the broad-minded individuals.
Developers and decision makers need community development skills like foresight, knowledge of policy, and an understanding of the complex and dynamic aspects of a community. These people need to understand the many different individuals that live in a particular area and be able to cater to their contrasting needs. It is hard to please everyone, and those making decisions need to be amiable with community members that support and oppose their initiatives. These individuals need strong planning and organization skills as well as a feel for communication and dealing with people from all walks of life.
The foot soldiers have even more difficult tasks on their hands. These people must take broad and often idealistic ideas and put them into action. Some ideas may be simple, like building a community center. Others may be more complex, such as finding a way to integrate released criminals or recovering addicts into the community. These people need a great deal of patience and an uncanny ability to talk to people. They are required to think in innovative ways and constantly be ready for anything.
It is common that the people driving community improvement are often underappreciated and overworked. These passionate individuals possess a number of community development skills that help them do their jobs effectively. Although most communities will never be perfect, they can improve, which is the goal of most community developers. Whether involved in the broad business aspect or the interpersonal social work, individuals in this profession need to be great with people, diverse in knowledge, and able to solve unique problems that may fall out of the sky.