Connecting Communities – Our Theory of Change
Citizen centered development has, as its key principle, the inversion of power away from the “experts” who seek to “save” communities, to the citizens themselves as designers and co-creators of their own future.
In order to do this, we have to shift our perception of communities from that of poverty, scarcity and brokenness to one of abundance, resilience, gifts and possibilities. This is not an easy shift to make and calls on us to construct a new paradigm based on the values of ownership, possibilities, authentic dissent, gifts and commitment. A community based on scarcity, dependent on systems, with citizens competing and living in isolation from one another, threatens democracy.
That is why consumerism threatens democracy. The consumer way: No matter what or how much we purchase; we will always end up wanting more. That is a foundation of consumer society. Consumerism is organised around scarcity and dependency by design. This scarcity and dependence are inherent in a consumer economy and do not serve democracy well. Democracy is a structure and a process built on a belief in self-governance, freedom, and an engaged citizenry. There are two sources of power that are purpose of our freedoms in democracy: the expression of our gifts and their manifestation through association with our neighbours. Without the use of these two powers of freedom, democracy loses its purpose.
The abundant community is therefore the purpose of democracy. It allows us to be citizens once again. Knowing that we have the power to define our own possibilities, decide what choices reside in our own hands and choose our own future. We no longer require great leaders – not even a strong, “developed” economy – only each other, coming together with our gifts in mind. We are, however, required to join an association, share our gifts, and become the principal producers of our future.