Community Participation in Projects

Dear Editor

I was very interested to read the items on how to encourage the community to be active recipients of projects. I am going to sound like the grumpy old man here, but with our limited success, running a project where people create craft and retail it (i.e. run the shop as well) we have learnt is that what is essential as well, is that the community take responsibility for the projects. I mean that they take a deeply personal responsibility for the projects, and realise that they carry the can. With big involvement comes big responsibility. If the project crashes into the ground due to their mismanagement, they need to own this, as it is fairly and squarely theirs. Besides the normal set backs, our experiences have been very positive with this approach. We ensure people have the necessary skills and resources, and it is then up to them. The project is as good or bad as they make it. Our crafters really have risen to the occasion. They respond well to the fact that they are held personally accountable for their contribution to the project, and are clearly aware of how, that is what benefits them and their families, and ultimately takes the project to the next level. I suppose we are talking about the fact that at the end of the day our crafters feel they own our project, and if they make it fly, so will they. With being an active recipients comes a lot of responsibility. Our crafters make highly priced pieces of work, and each one is an advert for us (either good or bad). They manage money, resource and each other, and ultimately they manage their image to a public, that passes through our shop every day of the year.

I am proud to say that the community can rise to the occasion, as Directors or projects, we need to give them what they need (resources, the right environments and skills) and also hold them accountable.

Robin Opperman
Director – Umcebo Trust

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