The world is divided into various geographical areas that we find ourselves living. These units have different characteristics and problems that pose challenges to their people. The issues may range from location, social, religious, economic and education among others. Most of these problems greatly affect the people and if left uncovered may cause a breach of the fundamental human rights. The traditional feeling of a community is that rural setting with distinct people in a geographical and population boundary. As populations grow, so the desire to move out and settle elsewhere grows. Employment and the need to empower economically has brought about urbanization and this has played a role in bringing together people from diverse backgrounds with different languages thus people can easily meet and interact. The urban community has a vision far beyond the traditional boundaries that demarcated the community. In this context, the desires of the people in the heterogeneous environment go beyond the personal sense of belonging to a certain community.
Consider a society where there are wars and riots every now and then, theft, drug abuse and street children .This society is not at peace with itself since the fundamental right of some people are not being catered for and for this reason you will find different people organizing and joining hands to try and eradicate these misfortunes among its people. It has been noted that wherever people have lived, there have been informal organizations aimed at addressing the issues faced by the community and finding ways of solving them. These are formed by the people of good will to help the less fortunate and through their common goal and cooperation are able to fully address the issues.
This essay will define community organizations in the context of their origin and operations noting the key characteristics of these organizations. It will also address the functions, interest and challenges faced by these organizations during formation and maintaining the organization using a specific reference from Sydney, Australia.
A community is a group of people with different backgrounds that share an interest, locality. With this reason they come together to form an organization. A Community organization is a process by which a community identifies needs and takes action, and in doing so... develops co-operative attitudes and practices. This means that the power of individuals to identify specific problems affecting the community members, the will and the ability to cooperate empowers themselves in achieving their goals. Neil Betten (1990). The modern community spreads out to accommodate the unseen people provided they have a common goal. Example the internet community
Key characteristics community organizations
Formation of a community organization is a process and requires the understanding the various aspects of the community. The key characteristics of these community organizations involve the ability to address historical, social, economical and cultural backgrounds of the people. Historically, people have different origins, background and experiences. The history of the community brings to the table the past injustices and how the community embraced and solved them. This background information is important in that it relates certain present activities of the community to its past. The history of a community helps underscore the relationship of the people with their neighbors thus helps in determining social cohesiveness. Phillip Thompson (2005).
The social fabric of the community is a key factor in the coming together of the people to solve the issue at hand. These factors include the language and ethnicity, how various gender relate with one another and the way of life of a community among others. In a community, ethnicity and language plays a great role in the cohesion of a group even though it may act as a divisive factor. Example a community which survives majorly on business will be reluctant to freely form organizations that bar business activities even if they impinge the fundamental human rights. The religion of the community poses a concern in relation to the involvement of the people in the organizations activities. Example, certain religions allow overnight prayers while some do not necessary have night vigils. For this case it becomes hard to engage these groups in campaigns baring noise and night prayers.
When organizing a community to address an issue, the economic background of the people must be put into consideration. This gives the general picture of their economic capabilities and status. Example, people who depend largely on nomadic way of life will not fully participate in groups that aim to promote soil cover, prevent soil erosion, and control animal diseases through rearing few manageable animals. This factor must therefore be fully understood to enable smooth running of the campaigns. Poverty has been a pressing factor in the lives and minds of many a people. This knowledge helps in design of the organization and its activities. Shirley, D. (1997) Community organizations must address the cultural history of the community in relation to the issues at hand. Example, many people still believe in the culture of their ancestors and therefore are unwilling to engage themselves in the groups that wish the practices eradicated. By carefully understanding the origin, importance and future continuity of such practices, it enables the group approach and explains the concern effectively.
In general community organizations are formed based the pressing issues within the community with the aim of providing help to the needy. Consider the Center of Aging now known as COA Sydney Inc. This was formed based on the fact that an elderly Jewish neighbor used to knock on the founders door every morning to request for help. This was a problem in the neighborhood and by talking to other people they saw the need to form an organization to help out those who are elderly and cannot perform duties. Here the reached out for help and the founder mobilized people with the common problem. The issue brought the social cohesiveness of the affected. Kristin Layng (2007)
Formation of community organizations has not been an easy task but rather a process involving many problems. Remember, current organizations crop up through associations of people of different origins though the goal may be the same. In urban settings for example, there are many human issues that affect the people ranging from poor sanitation, drug and drug abuse and prostitution among others. With these issues in mind, the community is in a dilemma in terms of what issue bears a lot of weight. Choice of the issues to address can cause a delay in the provision of services. Most of these community organizations are non profit and therefore involve more voluntary work than financial gain. Community based organizations work in a specified geographical outfit with target population. To get results the group need finances to help reach out to the people. Initially the group depends on its members unless well wishers and sponsors decide to assist. The choice of the problem may prove difficult since to solve a problem, you require the technical knowledge, stakeholders, sponsors and a clear description of how you will tackle the problem. (Marie G. Sandy 2011). Some organizations, especially those formed by employees in a work a place pose a threat to the employer especially if they aim at addressing their plight and advocating for their fundamental rights at work place. For this reason, it becomes difficult to nurture the feeling of the employees in the work place and thus several problems will pressure them without complain for the fear of being losing their jobs.
Impact on governance.
Any community organization is based on a structure with which it executes its mandate. The people with a common goal come together to express their feelings towards a pressing issue. The coming together creates a sense of belonging for each member and with this in mind they pressure the relevant authorities of the government to assist in dealing with the problem and in so doing they promote good governance and leadership where leaders are accountable to the people for the problem within. Among the mandates of the community organizations is to educate the people on dealing with the issues at hand and by so doing it promotes the understanding of the people to the pressing problems thus the people have a bargaining power for better services. Adger, C.T. (2001)
These organizations also promote leadership within individuals especially community based where by dealing with the community you familiarize yourself with the problem facing them thus prepare one to be a good with the knowledge of the peoples problems.
Community organizations are formed be people with a common interest and good will to those in need. As seen there are various insights to formation of these groups that seek to promote equality in the society and as such are important to the good governance.
Aaron Schutz and Marie G. Sandy, Collective Action for Social Change: An Introduction to Community Organizing (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). ISBN 0-230-10537-8
Adger, C.T. (2001). School- community- based organization partnerships for language minority students' school success. Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 6 (1-2), 7-25.
J. Phillip Thompson (2005). Seeking Effective Power: Why Mayors Need Community Organizations. Perspectives on Politics, 3, pp 301–308.
Kristin Layng Szakos and Joe Szakos, We Make Change: Community Organizers Talk About What They Do - and Why (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2007). ISBN 978-0 8265-1554-4
Neil Betten and Michael J. Austin, The Roots of Community Organizing, 1917-1939 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990). ISBN 0-87722-662-8 http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/19556345
P. Hartigan, 2006, 'It's about people, not profits', Business Strategy Review, winter 2006
Ramirez, Jr., L:"The Case for Social Benefit Organizations".MiniDonations.org Blog, February 2010.
Shirley, D. 1997. Community Organizing for Urban School Reform. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.