Martin Wroe - Greenbelt
· Waiters Union
I have known Dave Andrews for a long time. I read his first book, Can You Hear The Heartbeat? in the early 90s and was inspired by its vision to spend time with the Waiters Union in Brisbane's West End to experience the kind of transforming community relationships described by Dave for myself. It was an exhilarating and challenging experience and has continued to shape who I am and my relationship with my own neighbourhood wherever I have lived since.
Dave (who will hate me for writing this) is a bit of a poster boy for all of us who long to work ...in our communities but don't really know how to start. He, Ange, and the rest of the Waiters Union have struggled over the years to live out their faith in solidarity with those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged in their local area. Over time, Dave has learnt a thing or two about taking risks, acting with integrity, persistence, courage, respect and hope, and shares this hard won wisdom in Living Community.
If you've ever wondered about just exactly how to stand in solidarity with those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged in your community, but are not sure what that means, or how to get there, then Living Community is the book for you.
It's an intensely practical workbook that can be studied formally as a subject in an educational institution or (hooray) at home in your own community. This is a book worth reading with a fluro pen in hand. Get up, go out and grab a copy now.
But wait, there's more. Dave is available to run workshops, seminars and residential intensives (contact details in book), which means that you can organize a group or groups in your church or community to work through the sessions and have Dave around as an inspiration/guide.
People who live the talk like Dave can be a bit like national parks ? although we probably will never go there, we feel good knowing that they exist. Living Community provides a map, with clear and empowering directions, to help us move from a warm glow of appreciation to a place where we too are resourced to have a go, to take a risk and to work, dance, laugh and cry with our sisters and brothers who are living on the edge.
Lin Hatfield Dodds National Director of UnitingCare, President of the Australian Council of Social Service, and Chair of the ACT Community Inclusion Board.
Living Community is an important resource for today's community workers. Important, because these are challenging times in which we live and work. A time when our political and business leaders promote personal and national notions of competition, rights, self-protection, economic acquisition and consumerism. Perhaps not necessarily negative concepts in themselves, but problematic when working with communities considered disadvantaged or marginalized. When self-interests prevail and when the playing field is uneven, the challenges to respond ethically and strategically are great. Community workers, often driven by a desire to build a better world for all its citizens, can find the environments in which they work overwhelmingly difficult. This work begins at a personal level and takes us into public realms, where the territory can be demanding, but also enormously rewarding. Living Community is a tool which provides an important space for reflection and learning - a space in which individuals and learning groups can reflect on the myriad of approaches to building and sustaining community
Towards the end of 2005 in Queensland, a conference took place where over 220 community workers gathered to explore the notion of community building and spirituality. The presentations and workshops explored various aspects of what drives and sustains our work in the world. Remarkably, a conference like this had not been held in Queensland before. Spirituality, one might say, is a private matter, not necessarily something connected to our work in the public sphere. However, feedback from many conference participants indicated that spirituality was not peripheral to their practice, but indeed, central to it. One-off conferences are helpful for those who were there, but Living Community is a text and tool by which we can all benefit. Frameworks to help us understand the complexity of the work; methods which bring people together and create a shared analysis and commitment to action; and processes which sustain us, are important actions for community workers to undertake. Some may call this a practice of spirituality; others ethical practice. Whatever it is, it is Living Community.
Tina Lathouras, Co-ordinator, Nambour Community Centre
At last a community development 'bible' ... With Living Community, Dave makes another valuable and versatile offering to community development theory and practice. It represents a comprehensive 'gathering up' of years of practice wisdom forged in challenging contexts. Although impressive in scope, the emphasis is more on how we engage with integrity. The material comes alive when you actually do it and reflect on it not just by reading it. It encourages a step by step building of understanding and commitment. It's a call to action from one who has walked the path before with humility and deep compassion.
Jeremy Liyanage, Senior Policy Officer, Brisbane City Council
Living Community is an ideal textbook for school age and mature students who wish to examine their ethical responsibility to the world around them. It is a practical resource for social workers, community organisers, and human rights advocates, as well as offering the layperson no nonsense pragmatic options for how to become more involved in one's community. The book draws from sociological and psychological theorists, studies, and statistics to ground the coursework in these current and reputable scientific approaches to the study of human behaviour.
Along with secular attitudes, the book also gives examples on moral social behaviour from a wide variety of religious texts. Using a method of Socratic questioning, Living Community concerns the reader with developing themselves as active, participating, and responsible members of the community. It encourages the reader to develop their own definitions and meanings regarding the complexity of the relationship between self and community, and thus echoes Plato's Republic in many ways, as Living Community asks the question: 'What is the ideal society and how do we make it so?'
Rather than make explicit an approach of collectivist anarchist self determination Dave Andrews bases chapters (or 'lessons') in contemporary examples and biographical stories, parables, studies of social development, articles on community attitudes, numerous statistical analysis, and a wide variety of psychological approaches such as determinism, behaviourism and cognitive therapy. What makes this book especially clever, (and incredibly marketable) is that it is, in form, and to some extent content, similar to the ever popular self-help book. However, Living Community is about living as a conscious member of a society, and also about empowering the entire community not just the self. Thus it differs integrally from the self-help book's materialist approach of status-orientated personal empowerment that privileges feeling good over doing good. Instead, Living Community is about understanding the relationship between members of the community and how all our actions affect each other's quality of life.
The selection of research grounds the idealistic focus of the text. While it consciously aims to allow the reader the freedom to choose for themselves their own subjective answers in regard to how to help others, it undeniably promotes altruism. Dave Andrews offers numerous examples of how selfishness and exploitation fracture and weaken communities, while fair dealing and communication ensure their smooth running. Thus although the author adapts an approach of sitting back and feeding the reader numerous examples and questions, the book is framed by a presumption that people will look out for their community if this means it will improve their own life. In the context of our current individualist society, the subtly of this approach is extremely effective as it establishes the reciprocal nature of community involvement, and suggests that innate goodness exists in all humans, because without it our society would not function at all.
This presumption of the innate good in all people works in this context as most people like to believe themselves to be good; thus the self-examination of the course work is less daunting. The questioning of the self in the main section of the book not only evokes Socratic method, but also sends the reader into the realm of psychoanalysis. Fundamental questions of identity, motivation, fears, and loss, are not easy to take at the best of times. However, since the aim of this book is more about how one can become better able to co-operate, assist and influence social harmony, these hard questions act as a form of initiation into 'humanity'. The self is broken down into a component of humans acting as a group. This acts to remove the sense of powerlessness and isolation of the individual versus society. Instead of an 'us and them' strategy, the book promotes a perspective of seeing the world in terms of their only being an 'us' and we each have a responsibility to the whole. The use of current social statistics and studies means the book is able to stabilise its idealistic aims with the contemporary lived experiences of people. These references legitimise the book's philosophy by demonstrating examples of altruism in action.
Living Community offers a style and language perfect for community workers to follow in dealing with funding and bodies of authority. It wonderfully places itself as a bridge between our ideals and ways in which we can practically achieving them. While utopian in theme, the book's structural approach of questions, exercises, readings, and bullet point notes, means that it reflects modern bureaucratic styles as well as offering useful appendixes of grant resources and even the UN Declaration of Human Rights. This deeply practical book is an ideal reference for anyone who needs guidance, support, and funding, to be more effective, honest and ethical in their dealings with humanity. It essentially offers the choice of numerous established and possible avenues, steps, and opportunities, for exercising our rights to enjoy and contribute to the functioning and development of our social environment.
Living Community asks us to see the world as not outside or 'around us' but as a living and ever-changing connection between all humans, where the world, and all people, and everything, is one. This 'we are all one machine' approach dissolves the isolation of the self, and is the first step to seeing a world where all humans are the same. Once this idea of the self as a component in a greater whole is grasped, the next step Living Community takes is understanding that the only person we can change is ourself, but by doing so we inevitably change the world.
Evelyn Hartogh 15 October 2007
This is written as a text book, but unlike any text book I've read. It doesn't keep its subject matter at arm's length, writing about it as object, in the third person, enabling the reader to stay safely external and scrutinising.
In a strange way the book reads me. It challenges me about instrumental friendships—about making the focuses of my life everywhere else other than the very place where I live. It plunges me deeper into my own life and it calls forth a response that means I may not be the same person at the end of this book than when I started.
It is an easy read, but not a comfortable one. It is very engaging and absorbing, yet you constantly have to put it down because you need time to assimilate and wrestle with the ideas that clash with—or sometimes clarify—your own preconceptions. It is gently affirming yet demanding. Optimistic, even idealistic, yet thoroughly realistic.
May I commend this to you as a book that takes seriously what it is to be truly human, from the pen of someone who tries harder than most to live it. May it sow many seeds of hope in the grounds of despair and indifference in our cities, towns and neighbourhoods. God knows that we need it.
Social Commentator and National Broadcaster
About the Course
Living Community is an introductory course on practical community work. It can be studied formally as a subject at college, or informally in your own community.
In his study of community, David Clark says:
‘community [is] essentially a sentiment which people have about themselves in relation to themselves: a sentiment expressed in action, but still basically a feeling. People have many feelings, but there are two essentials for the existence of community: a sense of significance and sense of solidarity. The strength of community within any given group is determined by the degree to which its members experience both a sense of solidarity and a sense of significance within it’.
According to psychologist Scott Peck:
‘If we are going to use the word meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together’, ‘delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own’.
After researching five different intentional communities, sociologist Luther Smith wrote:
‘The primary indicator of communal well-being is that members feel their fellowship approximates the qualities of a caring family. Hardship and failures will be the occasion for creative solutions and increased resolve. They do not break the spirit of a community. But loss of mutual respect and steadfast caring strikes a deathblow at the very heart of a community’.
Thus it is our hope that this training will provide you with the opportunity to explore the sense of signifi cance and solidarity, which is at the heart of community. Hopefully through this learning experience, you will develop a sense of deep mutual respect with people around you, as in a healthy extended family in which you will be free to ‘rejoice together and mourn together’.
The two dimensions of the course
The Living Community course has an inner dimension and an outer dimension. The outer dimension, the ‘body’ of the course, is the Australian National Training Authority’s body of community development knowledge, skills, principles, practices, and competencies. The inner dimension, or ‘soul’, is our passion for in-situ, spiritual, experiential, personal, relational, ethical, action-reflection community work education.
The outer dimension: The body of the course
The content of this course addresses two units of competency from the Community Services Training Package (CHC02) endorsed by the Australian National Training Authority:
CHCCD1A, which focuses on support for community participation.
CHCCD9A, which focuses on support for community leadership.
Underpinning knowledge of community work
The underpinning knowledge presented includes:
Underpinning skills of community work
The underpinning skills presented include:
Practical content and process
This course will give you the opportunity to
The inner dimension: The soul of the course
An in-situ course
Formal community work training is usually conducted in a college, while non-formal community work training is usually conducted in the context of the community. This course seeks to provide in-situ community work training that can be done formally for credit or informally for interest, in the context of the community.
A spiritual course
This course seeks to provide people with the opportunity to explore a dynamic spirituality that is essential for developing a healthy community. We believe that the practice of a radical spirituality of compassion, as advocated in all the major world religions, is not merely our best hope for developing a healthy community—it is our only hope.
An experiential course
This course seeks to provide the opportunity for people to experience the ‘sentiment’, the ‘sense of signifi cance and solidarity’ at the heart of community: an opportunity to experience the training to develop ‘deep mutual respect’ for one another, as in a ‘healthy extended family’.
A personal course
Community work is a personal issue - it begins with us! Either we can complain about the way things are, or we can change the way they are, starting with ourselves. This course can give people that start.
A relational course
Community work is both a personal and a relational issue. Change may start with us, but if it stops with us, it will stop altogether! This course can help us to help one another make the needed change together.
An ethical course
Community work is at heart an essentially ethical activity. There are no short cuts. There are no quick fixes. We cannot develop our community unless we ‘do unto others as we would have them do unto us’.
An action-reflection course
This course will encourage us to remember that anything worth doing is worth doing badly to begin with; but if we want to do good, we should try to do it better than we did before. We all need to develop the capacity to reflect critically on our actions.
Content and Outcomes
The content of Living Community is divided into 30 sessions. Part I (Sessions 1 to 15) helps people understand the foundation principles of practical community work. Building on those foundations, Part II (Sessions 16 to 30) then sets out the practices of community work in such a way as to enable people to use these skills in their own particular contexts.
When you complete Living Community, you will be able to:
Learning strategies and learning partners
Living Community includes processes, exercises, a set text, study notes, additional readings, and a simple series of community tasks that you can work through, step by step, in the context of your own community. This course includes a set of instructions to assist you in self-managed study. However, no course on community work could possibly be done in total isolation. So you will need a learning partner for this course. It doesn’t matter if it is a new acquaintance or an old friend. What matters is that it is someone you believe you can work with, someone you feel comfortable with, you can collaborate with, and be accountable to. A learning partner does not need to be present when you do most of the study sessions. But there are some sessions where it is absolutely essential that you have one or two learning partners with you, in order to be able to explore with integrity the subject you are studying. The learning partners for these sessions need not be learning partners you have chosen for the whole course, but any helpful people who might be available.
Learning responsibilities and resources
You alone are responsible for your own learning. To get the most out of your study of Living Community, you need to follow the instructions in each session on a weekly basis—including reading the materials, talking things over with a learning partner, answering the questions, completing the set community tasks and writing up the working notes.
To do all the work the course entails, you need to set aside at least 2 hours for each session, and a further 2 hours for the tasks associated with each session. It would take about 5 hours a week.
At the end of each session, we have set Community Tasks that you are encouraged to do. These tasks provide the simple activities that are the basis for the action and reflection at the heart of the course.
You are encouraged to keep Working Notes made up of informal personal reflections on specific lessons you learn from this course through your engagement with community development theory and practice in your community. Working Notes are not an objective reporting of events, per se, but more subjective, personal reflections on some of the thoughts, feelings and issues that the course raises for you to consider.
While reading widely on the topic of community development is strongly encouraged, we have tried to provide enough resources for you to read without having to access a library. The Readings (listed in Appendix B) have been provided at http://www.daveandrews.com.au
In addition to Living Community, you will need additional materials tocomplete the course. The articles, stories and assignment guidelines are all available on http://www.daveandrews.com.au
Training Resources and Responsibilities
Your responsibilities are
to help students clarify their understanding of material
related to community and community work;
to consider general theories related to community work in
the context of today’s world;
to analyse the issues involved in doing practical community
to appreciate sensitive responses which enhance dignity and
the principles of practical community work
the practices of practical community work
the opportunities for community leadership
leadership structures and processes in the community
leadership training and learning in the community
a range of activities to ensure participation in community
You need to encourage students to study Living Community, following the instructions in the each session (including reading the materials, talking things over with a learning partner, answering the questions, and writing up the Working Notes) on a weekly basis where possible.
If students are studying the course for accreditation, you will also need to encourage them to
Students should be encouraged to set aside at least 2 hours for each session, 2 hours for the tasks associated with each session, 3 hours per week for additional reading, and 2 hours for writing. This means that students should aim to dedicate at least 10 hours a week to this course.
The best way of encouraging students is to meet with them at least once a week every week for a couple of hours. If that is not possible, you may want to consider staying in touch with them by phone and/or email, and organise a Residential Intensive once or twice during the course.
The Community Tasks that need to be completed are at the end of each session. These tasks provide the simple activities that are the basis for the action and reflection at the heart of the course. The Reports that students are expected to write are based on the Working Notes they keep on these Community Tasks.
The Working Notes are to be made up of informal (but legible) personal reflections on specific lessons that students learn from this course, through their engagement with community development theory and practice in their community. The Working Notes are not the Reports but form the basis for the student’s Reports. Working Notes are not an objective reporting of events, per see, but more subjective, personal reflections.
Note: Working Notes should not be graded but should be submitted as evidence of the student’s personal learning progress.
Two formal Reports are to be submitted, one for each half of the course, framed around:
the weekly tasks attempted
lessons learned along the way
The Reports should demonstrate the student’s theoretical and practical understanding of community work within the framework of the student’s personal world view. Reports should be based on the weekly Working Notes they keep on their Community Tasks. Honesty, authenticity and creativity in these presentations should be rewarded. But students should be reminded that while they may be personal and practical, these Reports are assessable pieces of work. References and research need to be adequately cited, and a Bibliography appended.
Reports by degree students should be 2,000 words, diploma students should be 1,500 words and certificate students should be 1,000 words.
Two Essays are to be written, one for each half of the course, each essay demonstrating an in-depth understanding of one aspect of compassionate community work. Students may either suggest a topic for approval to the facilitator, or choose one of the following suggested topics:
Essays by degree students should be 3,000 words, by diploma students should be 2,500 words and by certificate students should be 2,000 words.
Facilitators need to understand that not all students have access to good libraries. While library research is strongly encouraged where possible, we have tried to provide the resources needed for students to be able to complete essay writing without accessing a library. Additional Articles have been provided on the website: http://www.daveandrews.com.au