Tsunami India
Kovalam Playground
What is an Organiizer
Columbia City Revitalization

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Table of Contents:

1. Background
2. Design of Toilets
3. Composting
4. Construction -- Base & Vaults
5. Construction--Pad Fabrication
6. Construction--Superstructure
7. Finished!
8. Monitoring & Evaluation
9. EcoSan Resources


Community Development

For most of my adult life, I've been involved in community-building and development.  I've been an "organizer", a director of social and economic justice organizations and director of a grant-making foundation.   Related Content Before moving to Japan, I was employed by the City of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods' Matching Fund Program as a program officer and as trainer of neighborhood leaders.  

Recently, I've frequently traveled to India to study community development in a less-developed country.  Japanese college students go along for part of the time on each trip.  

Our India study first focused on efforts by the Akshaya Project of Kerala State's IT Mission to bring Information Technology literacy to every household in the southern Indian state of Kerala.  

In 2005 we expanded our fieldwork to include a study of community initiated efforts to develop the fishing village of Kovalam in Tamil Nadu.  In 2007, in the Kottai colony of Kovalam, we helped build a playground for children. In 2008, we initiated a project to build eco-san toilets throughout Kovalam.

Tsunami Relief Camps in India:  The 2005 fieldwork program in India also took the students to several Tamil Nadu coastal villages devastated by the December 26, 2004 tsunami.  We made a video of the tsunami relief camps to show at a benefit concert organized by the students.  You can view it here

The Columbia City Revitalization Story:  One of the more interesting projects I was involved with was the "revitalization" of the Columbia City neighborhood in Seattle.  I lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years.  Many of the lessons learned about "do-it-yourself" community development are recorded in this story.  

The Neighborhood Matching Fund and Civic Life in Seattle:  The Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund program is an innovative partnership between city government and neighborhood organizations.  In the first 12 years of the program 700 different neighborhood organizations received "grants" ranging from a few -hundred dollars to several-thousands of dollars to undertake 1,500 neighborhood initiated projects.  This paper, in PDF format, explores how the Matching Fund program leads to an involved citizenship.

Non-Profit Movement Shakes Up Japan:    In the immediate aftermath of the 1995 earthquake that devastated Kobe, government dithered while non-profit organizations of citizens moved into action.  Volunteers pulled victims from the ruins and provided water, food and shelter to the refugees.  Finally recognizing the importance of NPOs  to civic life, the Diet enacted legislation creating a legal framework for citizen-based non-profits in 1998. 

This article was written in 2001 while I still worked for Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods.  It seems newly relevant in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  

Tools for Neighborhood Organizers 

Tools for Neighborhood Organizers is a series of workbooks I authored for Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods.  The booklets are based on my two decades of experience as a community organizer.  To open and read, you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on you computer.  

Organizations that want to get things done can always use more members. Some empowerment organizations have tens of thousands of members. Others but a handful. Clearly, bigger organizations are more powerful than small ones. Do the big organizations know something the small ones don't? Is there a secret to recruiting members?  Find out how in the "Secrets of Membership Recruitment."  

Consider the last time you attended a meeting. Of any organization. During the meeting, were you involved or were you bored? Did something of importance happen or was it a waste of time? Did time go by quickly or did you think the meeting would never end? Are you looking forward to the next meeting or have you already prepared your excuse not to attend? Learn how to plan for great meetings: