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Evaluating Community Technology Centers
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The Importance of Community-Based Organizations

Community-based organizations (CBOs) are human scale organizations that work to remove access barriers and create enablers. They are often more effective than large bureaucratic organizations or working for societal improvement at the family level. Moreover, a truly effective CBO empowers their clientele by increasing their freedom of choice and control, ultimately enabling community members to choose the life they want to lead. Thus, CBOs are uniquely positioned to be the true leaders in the struggle for sustained community revitalization. 

"We need to create social networks that allow individuals to realize capital, while simultaneously allowing these networks to realize the power needed to attract and control that capital...That is, while we need to create social networks to allow individuals to realize capital, those networks must ensure that the groups of people involved retain some control over the capital...Fortunately, such networks, and the organizations that are their focal points, already exist within the community development movement and need not be created from scratch". (1)

To accomplish these goals, a CBO must be open to institutional innovation. "Institutional innovation is the habit of problem solving…Without ideas about institutional alternatives and without the political mobilization of once passive majorities, politics degenerate into inconclusive bargaining among organized interest groups. Such a politics is incapable of addressing, much less solving, any of the major acknowledged problems of the country." (2)

Notes

  1. DeFilippis, James. "The Myth of Social Capital in Community Development." Housing Policy Debate. Volume 12, Issue 4: 2001. 799.
  2. West, Cornel and Roberto Unger. The Future of American Progressivism:  An Initiative for Political and Economic Reform. Boston, 1998, 29.

this page last updated
April 13, 2002