International community-led development expert visits Levin

Published on 10 August 2018

Jim Diers.

An international expert on community-led development, whose ideas have inspired programmes and projects around the world, is coming to Levin.  

Jim Diers will present a free workshop for local people with an interest in community driven projects at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō the evening of Tuesday 21 August.

Horowhenua District Council’s Community Development Advisor Michelle Rogerson said the workshop was a fantastic opportunity to learn from one of the world’s leading practitioners in community-led development.

“This is not to be missed if you want to get involved with your community to achieve locally-owned visions and goals,” she said.

Mr Diers is visiting from Seattle, where he teaches courses in community organising and development at the University of Washington and serves on the faculty of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He is an accomplished international speaker, author and workshop presenter, and provides technical assistance to community associations, non-profit organisations and governments.

Mr Diers has won several awards for his work, including an Innovation Award from the Kennedy School of Government and a Full Inclusion Award from the American Association on Developmental Disabilities.

In his workshop at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō, Creating Great Communities Together, Mr Diers will take a community-led approach to development built on five principles of practice. These include: shared local visions to drive action and change; using existing strengths and assets; many people, groups and sectors working together; building diverse and collaborative local leadership; and working adaptively so that learning informs planning and action.

“His approach is about making the most of everyone’s best attributes and teaching people how to work together to build collective strength,” said Ms Rogerson.

Mr Diers recognises New Zealand as being at the forefront of community-led development. Many New Zealand communities have already benefited from the community-led development approach.

In Christchurch, the Blue Pallet Pavilion project filled vacant space left by the Canterbury earthquake with 3,000 blue wooden pallets to create a summer gathering and event space for the community.

Residents of Lyttelton created a timebank, which enables members of the community to trade their skills using time credits instead of money.

In Palmerston North, the city council works with local business and community groups to create parklets. Parklets are carparks that have been converted into social spaces for people to enjoy.

Ms Rogerson said there are many talented people in Horowhenua doing great things, too, such as the Sharing Shelf at Waiopehu College, where people can exchange food and books.

“The community has a major role to play when it comes to raising our children, caring for our elders, sustaining the local economy, creating great places, and ensuring people’s happiness and wellbeing. By working together and creating a resilient community we can make Horowhenua an even better place to live.”

Jim Diers’ free workshop, Creating Great Communities Together, will be held from 6:30pm on Tuesday 21 August at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō. Contact Michelle Rogerson on michellero@horowhenua.govt.nz or the Horowhenua District Council Community Development team on 06 366 0999 by Friday 17 August to reserve your place.