What do we want our Village or Town to be in 5 or 10 years’ time?
This is the central question that communities seek to address when they embark on a community planning process.
In 2020 OLDC recruited a community animator to work with communities in Offaly. This dedicated resource works to facilitate communities in their efforts to develop strategic action plans that build on their community assets and resources.
Why have a community plan? people involved in community life like the “doing” and this is really important but so to, is having a community plan. For one thing it allows the time for people to think about the future and plan actions accordingly. It’s a good way of checking in and finding out what the community would like to see happening, it’s a way of shaking things up involving new people in new ways with new ideas.
Communities in Offaly have had to embrace change. Change in how we live, how we work, how we heat our homes, fuel our cars, how we keep ourselves healthy and well and how we protect the land, water and habitat around us. This change is being driven by real concerns over climate change, rural depopulation, aging communities and more recently COVID. The cessation of peat production by Bord na Mona and the development of alternative energy production along with plans to rehabilitate sections of peatlands will also have an impact on communities in Offaly. Not only will the landscape change, but a way of life is changing. Community planning provides the space to begin to ask how this change can be turned into an opportunity and how best to build resilient communities.
Having a co-ordinated plan and agreeing a set of common community actions builds critical mass and allows communities to articulate their need as a “community”. This is important not just in terms of relevance to current public policy, but is crucially important in terms of accessing the range of funding supports, schemes and programmes that are available. Communities increasingly need to be able to demonstrate that they understand the “need” in their own community, and that they have developed a plan to address this.
The Journey is as important as the Destination
The planning process firstly involves getting to know the community, understanding the who, what when and where questions. The process is driven by the community themselves, it involves consulting with the wider community using a range of different approaches: community survey’s, business survey’s, focus group sessions with different groups and interviews with relevant stakeholders. OLDC supports this work along with facilitating on going working group sessions which focus on agreeing a community vision and anticipated outcomes for planned actions.
If you would like more information on Community Planning, please contact Ciara Monaghan for more information firstname.lastname@example.org.