New 'Community Leadership Handbook' Puts the Tools of Democracy into Everyone's Hands

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Leadership is a choice, not a position. Everyday people can improve their community, and this hands-on guide shows them how. Based on the best of Blandin Foundation’s 20-year experience in developing community leaders, it gives community members the tools to bring people together to make changes.

Leadership is a choice, not a position. Everyday people can improve their community, and this hands-on guide shows them how. Based on the best of Blandin Foundation’s 20-year experience in developing community leaders, it gives community members the tools to bring people together to make changes.

At the end of his long career as a leadership scholar and advisor to four U.S. presidents, John W. Gardner issued a challenge and a plea for community leadership:

“I keep running into highly capable people all over this country who literally never give a thought to the well-being of their community. And I keep wondering who gave them permission to stand aside! I’m asking you to issue a wake-up call to those people -- a bugle call right in their ear. And I want you to tell them that this nation could die of comfortable indifference to the problems that only citizens can solve. Tell them that.”

The Community Leadership Handbook was written for people who have heard the “bugle call.” It’s for anyone interested in any issue that beckons a community-wide response -- reducing violence in a neighborhood, revitalizing a small town business district, creating affordable housing, or meeting the needs of seniors in a community.

Taking ideas off the page and into the world...

Based on the best of Blandin Foundation’s 20-years of experience in developing community leaders, the guide distills the essence of many theories into tools and techniques that emphasize taking action -- not on becoming an expert in politics, psychology, or sociology.

Among the fourteen “how-to” tools are:

  • Identifying Community Assets
  • Analysizing Community Problems
  • Accessing Community Data
  • Translating Vision to Action
  • Managing Interpersonal Conflict
  • Building Social Capital Across Cultures
  • Network Mapping: Locating Your Social Capital
  • Recruiting and Sustaining Volunteers

Carefully crafted examples -- based on real-life leadership issues -- help readers see how the tools play out in communities of all types -- rural, urban, and suburban.

Worksheets guide readers through the action steps presented in each tool—helping them define problems, create solutions, gain community “buy-in” for projects, strengthen working relationships, and move people to action.

Some books are just meant to be read. This book is meant to be used. Though the handbook is packed with content, it doesn’t have to be read cover-to-cover. Readers can ask themselves, “What tool can I apply to my community project right now?” and turn to specific information as needed.

The Community Leader’s Handbook will promote a better return on all the effort and time invested in creating a community’s future. Readers will find in it the tools -- and inspiration -- to make their communities better places.

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Rebecca Andrews
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