Community Academy teaches principles of community development while highlighting local projects
“That’s what I love about Clarkston. If you want to be included, you can. It’s all here.”
– Ruth Staples, Community Academy Participant
May 13-17, CDF hosted the Community Academy, a week-long training course designed to provide community leaders with a toolbox of skills for building community. The course is based on a curriculum developed by the University of Missouri Extension’s Community Development Program. Held in the K.D. Moore Community Development Center, 23 participants took a series of workshops and activities meant to teach the skills needed to create a successful community development project.
Participants gathered outside on Tuesday to reflect on moments in their lives when they have felt welcome and unwelcome. Facilitated by Jessy Molina from Welcoming America, they formed a circle and shared stories from their lives.
Afterwards, Molina asked them to reflect and consider how it felt to share their stories. The exercise created an atmosphere of acceptance of diversity aimed to help the groups succeed with people with a range of perspectives and backgrounds.
“I feel the whole world making a change. It’s less color-conscious, and people with disability are coming to acceptance. I’m sensing a growth in human nature, and I feel that in Clarkston.”
– Betty Hasan-Amin, Community Academy Participant
State of Franklin
Throughout the week, participants broke into small groups to apply what they learned in a community development simulation of the hypothetical state of Franklin.
The task given each group was to develop a plan for community development in a particular county in the state of Franklin. They were shown maps and video overviews of towns, cities and counties they would work with, supplemented with demographic information, statistics, and census data. Each group was then responsible for drafting a community development plan for that section which they presented on Friday.
“The goal is for participants to know what it feels like to be put in a diverse group of people that you don’t know and go through this group development process. You learn, through doing your plan, how groups work together and how groups form.”
– Johanna Reed Adams, facilitator from the University of Missouri Extension
Two local leaders spoke on Wednesday about community development projects that are currently active in Clarkston. Pashupati Timsina from the Druk Media Hub spoke about the Bhutanese youth newspaper he organizes, called “The Broadway,” and its mission to provide youth with opportunities through media.
Later in the day, participants took a walking tour of the CCC’s Community Garden, a community development project in action, led by Janice Giddens of the Clarkston Community Center. Participants were given a first-hand demonstration of people applying the principles taught in Academy, right here in Clarkston.
“It’s stimulating to see people engage in a very concrete and very simple but unique program. You take people’s gifts and abilities, and you give them space, and the people literally grow their own project.”
-Shawn Duncan, Community Academy Participant
CDF Executive Director Jeremy Lewis bee-came a bee for a skit during a leadership workshop on Thursday. He played the leader of the Millennium Hive, a hive of bees that follows new, collaborative and inclusive rules of leadership, and Johanna Reed Adams was the Queen Bee, leading her hive with traditional leadership strategies.
“It was so lighthearted. A lot of times when you talk about leadership, you talk about bad past managers. But this let me see my leaders in a different light.”
–Lesley Dixon, Community Academy Participant
CDF would like to thank the many organizations and people for all the work and resources they have contributed to make the Community Academy possible. Workshops were facilitated by Stephen Jeanetta and Johanna Reed Adams, professors at the University of Missouri, and also by local community leaders who lead active community development efforts here in Clarkston.