When we first met many, many conferences ago, my writing partner discovered we had a lot in common. Beyond some similar childhood experiences, we are both community psychologists and both enjoy working with community coalitions and mission-driven nonprofits. We practice in communities, often as evaluators. Over the years, we both are often asked by emerging evaluators how to get started.
Thus, we wrote our book, Guidebook to Community Consulting: A Collaborative Approach, for people like us with a strong love for communities, especially community members who are marginalized in some way and for those living in rural communities. The purpose of the book is to provide professionals and students with a comprehensive source of information and guidance for consulting in communities. Though there are other books on consulting in general and some specific to the field of evaluation, we felt that there was a need for a guide for those people with a desire to establish a consulting business in communities, or whose jobs require community consultation.
Our book includes specific guidance on:
Our aim is to help readers assess if working in communities is for them. To that end, we developed the Community Consulting Professional Development Planning Tool (see Appendix 1) to help those interested in community consulting assess their knowledge, values, and skills to effectively work in communities. It is designed to identify areas in which you might need or want professional development.
We include guidance on establishing collaborative relationships with community members. We recognize that conflict is inevitable, that communities are always changing, and that collaboration is needed to achieve systematic change. We also recognize that deep and lasting community change won’t happen if we do not address the ways in which systemic racism, poverty, and other forms of marginalization affect social and health disparities.
As we say at the end of our book, “We believe in the power of community members coming together to identify and address their problems.” While local and federal governments have a role to play, so does the philanthropic and nonprofit community, we believe we all have a role to play in making our communities more just and healthier. Our book is a guide for those who, like us, have great hope for the future of strong, thriving communities.
Author: Susan M. Wolfe and Ann Webb Price