If you’ve been following our series on flourishing or explored Seeking Shalom, you know that flourishing is the meaning and measure to our approach to community development. Today, we want to dig a little deeper and talk about why flourishing matters so much in community development. Here are a few different angles to consider
The Practical: Flourishing Makes You Measure Impact
Flourishing matters in Community Development because it unifies program activities into a greater vision. Attention to flourishing draws change-makers to measure impact, not activity. This focus naturally pulls us into more complex, lasting neighborhood-level change.
When measuring only in terms of impact, organizations will spend an abundance of time, energy, resources, and personnel on perpetuating programs that do not create change in the long run. Setting our sights on flourishing, however, means we will start, end, or change (see reason #2) whatever we have to so that impact becomes possible.
Focusing on flourishing will make your work clearer, healthier, and more effective,
The Organizational: Flourishing Frees You to Change
When Change-Makers aim for flourishing communities, the focus becomes neighbors’ well-being. Goals must align with real impact on people. When community development workers take this approach, the organization takes second place. If outcomes for neighbors is the most important thing, you are free to abandon initiatives and programs that don’t work. You free yourself from the need to keep things going just because it’s what you’ve always done. Instead, you can nimbly make necessary changes to activity without having to re-cast vision or re-interpret your organizational identity every time.
The Metaphysical: Focusing on Flourishing Humanizes Neighbors
Focusing on flourishing naturally places the tangible outcomes for neighbors at the center. And that centering act reminds everyone involved that every neighborhood contains living, breathing humans. A building cannot flourish. A rock cannot flourish. Living things flourish. Ecosystems of humans and creatures flourish. It’s impossible to talk about flourishing without acknowledging what that means for individuals and communities. Even better, flourishing forces Change-makers to be in relationships. We get beyond statistics, issues, and problems; we get aggressively centered on real people – our neighbors and friends. Precisely because flourishing is a relatively nebulous concept, you have to ask neighbors what it looks like for them.
Flourishing is an essential concept in community development. It’s a strange phenomenon that while flourishing is difficult to define, it’s relatively easy to recognize. Flourishing includes healthy relationships, growth, joy, peace of mind and body. We want to see your neighborhood flourish. We know you do, too. As a great next step, take a moment to connect with us. We would love to talk through what flourishing could look like in your neighborhood, and what steps you can take to partner with neighbors to make it real.