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Monday, January 08, 2007

#8 Reason Community Development is Hard to Do

Lack of Participation across the Generations

-- editors note, this is the eighth in a top ten list of reasons why rural community development is hard to do by Michael Holton that ran as the feature article in the December 2006 Center for Rural Affairs newsletter... john

This question is always brought up in two ways. The lack of volunteers for community events causes an outcry, yet youths and senior citizens complain of not being asked to participate in a meaningful way. I often hear, “Why should I voice my opinion, they don’t care anyway?” This is brought up by both young people and the elderly.

Small communities talk about the crisis in the dwindling number of volunteers for special events and the burnout that occurs with the volunteers they do have. So why are the elderly and youth left out? Communication is a big key to crossing generations and finding a meaningful way to include all of the community rather than a few overworked individuals. An inclusive, open communication process benefits all.

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Michael, this is your best stuff yet. Thanks, as an older person, I wholeheartedly agree that too often the elderly and young adults are not asked to be a part of community development. Whiting, Iowa

  • At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    the key to an inclusive process is that it needs to be inclusive - community development or any other community activity that seeks to be "inclusive" of young adults without giving them a voice in the decision making process is not inclusive at all - and too often, that is what happens in - and too often it amounts to little more than tokenism

  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger Michael L. Holton said…

    Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the discussion that this list has generated. The concern of inclusiveness is a big one and when it comes to youth or elderly, I try and remember these three questions?

    Am I working TO help the selected group?

    Am I working FOR the selected group to help them?

    Am I working WITH the selected group to help and assist them with their own decisions?

    The last question answered is the best solution but we are often drawn back to the first question by presenting answers to questions that the selected group may not even ask?

  • At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I try to remember this when I think of inlcusion - if you want to know what a young adult or an elderly person wants, ask them - if you want to make it happen, ask them to help - if you want them to accept it, in other words if you want it to work, give them the decision


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