What YOU Can Do To Build Capacity
Capacity building efforts include a wide variety of activities—from formal leadership development projects and community wide planning events to less formal activities that build consensus, trust, and camaraderie (Rural Economic Policy Program, 1996, pg. 6). As you adopt a capacity building mindset, you might ask yourself and your community partners some of these questions about the ABCDs of capacity building in practice. Click on the buttons below to learn more about the ABCDs of capacity building.
In short, you can contribute to capacity building by being mindful and focused on ways in which you and your community partner can go about your collaborative community work so that lasting change takes root and grows over time. The capacity building mindset requires listening and patience. For some, it is challenging, but the long-term benefits often outweigh the short-term difficulties.
A Conversation in the Kitchen
Alicia was grateful that her assignment to Riverfront was for the full semester. She took her time settling in. Luckily, her class schedule was open during the timeslot of their weekly staff meeting. Alicia decided to attend the staff meetings to get to know everyone better and to understand more of what the organization was trying to achieve. She often stayed after staff meetings and helped to tidy up the conference room and put the dishes in the dishwasher.
One day after the staff meeting, she found herself talking with Zoe and another employee, Ryan, about the webpage. When she looked up at the clock, she couldn't believe an entire hour had gone by just talking in the kitchen.
Alicia made sure she wrote about this conversation in her service-learning journal. At first, I felt like I was wasting my time just chatting in the kitchen, but then I realized I learned more about what Zoe really wanted for the webpage in that one hour conversation in the kitchen than I did in all of our formal meetings. I also got to know Ryan a little bit more.