"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." John Donee-No Man is an Island.
Our entire lives revolve around community and the idea of community. Often times the government uses the philosophy what's good for all surpasses what's good for one. Sometimes we are labeled by the communities we belong to and the regions that we live in as opposed to being viewed individually. While we are all uniquely individual, we make up communities that are often times given more power and sway then an individual might be. I don't believe that there is one way to define and approach community organizing. There are almost one hundred ways to define community and so pigeonholing the best approach to community organizing is difficult and maybe almost impossible. However, the neighborhood maintenance/community development approach was the most appealing to me.
This is the loosest approach to community organizing and it includes neighborhood associations and civic clubs in the suburban areas that have become increasingly more prominent and desirable areas to live in. The function of neighborhood associations is to serve as a quasi-government. They impose sanctions and penalize those who don't follow with fees. They also lobby for such things as street repairs. One example given of this approach is the story of Southeast Baltimore Community Organization. "SEBCO emerged in the late 60s as a way to stop the construction of a highway through the neighborhood. In the process of this mobilization, the neighborhood uncovered a whole host of local issues and a secret redevelopment plan for the neighborhood. During this time the organization also worked with city officials to develop affordable housing for the community and out of these efforts set up a community development corporation for housing. Its success spawned other community development corporation; one for jobs and business opportunities and one for health assistance" (Valocchi).
I think that this approach to community organizing could be the most effective if more neighborhoods and communities took an active role in participating in this sort of system. I grew up in east Mesa, borderline Apache Junction. Everyone knew what the nicer neighborhood was: Las Sendas. If you grew up in Las Sendas people automatically assumed that you had money that you could afford certainty luxuries that many others couldn't. I'd imagine growing up in a neighbor like the Bronx or Queens in New York, many people consider these neighbors synonymous = with the poor and lower class. Often times the communities that we live in define us. Community could be powerful thing if more of those living within them took an active role. While I think that this approach could be the most effective, I feel that a more comprehensive approach would be ideal. I feel that if neighborhoods would take more initiative and be involved in what is happening in the surrounding regions and in their own backyards, like the Southeast Baltimore Community Organization, a lot of necessary changes could be made. People are happier when they can take pride in their community and take pride in the fact that they helped to create this neighborhood. They can take pride in the fact that they are taking care of the inhabitants to ensure that everyone has access to necessary resources.
Valocchi, Stephen. A Way of Thinking About the History of Community Organizing. http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/tcn/valocchi.htm