How do you transform a community filled with hopelessness, despair, and violence? Where do you start in addressing homelessness, drugs, gangs, incarceration, broken families, and abuse? Do you bring in the cavalry and try to “save” the community?
Most community development efforts and social programs tend to “bring the solutions to the community,” as opposed to looking from within. What worked in another town or state gets quickly replicated here. What the government agency targets and wants to measure becomes the vision and the expectation.
- “What do you love about your neighborhood?”
- “If you could wave a magic wand and change any one thing about your community, what would it be?”
Answers to these questions help shape a unique vision that can transform the entire community and its people. Action plans emerge from questions and answers like these, not from external sources.
LifeLine holds to the maxim that “we cannot help individuals permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.” Instead, we focus on doing for individuals the things they cannot do alone.
This type of community transformation is a slow and labor-intensive process, but it’s the very best way to begin. We talk to a lot of people before a shared vision starts to emerge. And once it bubbles up, we have to resist from letting external agencies come in and take over, implementing a vision that is intended to benefit everyone, but not involve anyone.
Community development means developing the community and its people, raising new capacities, and empowering new leaders.
Imagine a neighborhood where people care for each other, where they appreciate their gifts, and where they help each other out and know each other’s names. Imagine a neighborhood were people trust each other, where children are safe, and where youth can explore their dreams and passions. Is that still possible? Or have those times gone by?
At LifeLine, we believe it is still possible, we believe that everyone no matter how rich has a need and everyone no matter how poor has a gift and that that combination builds and celebrates community.
The concept is called “Asset Based Community Development” or ABCD for short.
We work in neighborhoods to empower community members, help them rediscover their unique makeup, and celebrate together when they make their communities safer and healthier places again.
There are two parts to LifeLine CDC
- We equip individuals, churches and groups in the basic principles and practices of ABCD.
- We practice it by actively being involved in various neighborhoods and communities.
LifeLine Community Development Corporation of Merced County is a public benefit non-profit corporation in California.