Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Social Planning Definition

Defining Elements of Social Planning
Essentially, a group of people who hold a common interest.

Social Planning:
"Social planning is a process that helps communities identify strengths and weaknesses and determine ways to improve the quality of life in the community" (Community Development Halton, 2006). It is a top-down approach to working with communities and is usually directed by professionals, often involving some form of government leadership. Social planning cultivates the strengthening of communities by promoting positive social change, social justice, and care for people regardless of their race, colour, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or language of birth.

Core Values of a Social Planning Organization:
Primacy of Community -guides the functioning of SP
Voluntarism -actively encourages community members to involve themselves to some degree in issues affecting the quality of their lives
Diversity -recognizes and values the multi-dimensional character of participants whose backgrounds and experiences are varied
Equity and Justice - is committed to equal treatment of members, and fair access to resources for all participants
Co-operation -anticipates a willingness to comply with proposals based on expertise provided by leaders.

Operating Principles of a Social Planning Organization:
Independence -has the freedom to critique existing policies/systems and to propose alternative formats (more so than public sector groups or direct service providers)
Community Accountability -is membership-based and governed by boards elected by these members
Knowledge-based Action -links research data and community experience to action proposals/solutions to identified problems
Citizen participation -promotes the active involvement of community members in planning and decision-making steps
Inclusiveness -seeks to include all interested persons regardless of any self-defining form of identification
Empowerment -strives to build the capacity of leadership for participating effectively in democratic processes and accepting more control over decisions affecting the quality of community life
Holistic Perspective -recognizes the need for comprehensive and interdisciplinary approaches to planning/policy analysis/problem solving.
Process based -uses procedures to provide effective meetings that involve participants and develop proposals for positive social change.

Approaches for Social Planning Organizations:
Research -the provision of data to support a point of view
Policy Analysis
Convening/Facilitation -the organization of meetings, the provision of opportunities for participant input in a respectful manner
Collaboration -the recognition that political, economic, cultural, technological and social factors often need to be jointly considered
Community Awareness and Education
Service Development
Advocacy -the need to promote a cause/concern/problem to those with the 'power' to help to change

Challenges for Social Planning Organizations:
Priorities that change/evolve within the community
Demographics that change with time
Varying needs/priorities of community members
Creating/maintaining liaisons/relationships with organizations which can help to effect change/solve problems
Bureaucratic red-tape
Instigating consultation with a representative sample of community members

Strengths of a Social Planning Organization:
The creation of a 'community' to take problem-solving action
The creation of partnerships among various levels of organizations
The provision of data/research/statistics to help to guide
The provision of lobby groups to influence those in 'power'
People unable to actively be involved can still benefit from the process
People who feel intimidated/afraid/insecure may still be represented via statistics and thus helped with sensitive issues (i.e. HIV/AIDS, abuse, sexual orientation)

Additional Source: October 26, 2007.
Images from November 24, 2007.

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