Community Conference

Developing our communities: The battle between remembering and forgetting

Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development and a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago speaks about the challenges of community development.

There’s a backyard revolution happening across the globe. Challenges are pushing communities around the world to tackle issues head on.

Financial crises, rise in austerity and political unrest are contributing factors in forcing communities to take matters into their own hands. And although these communities are vastly different, whether they be in Rwanda or Scandinavia, Australia or the Highlands and Islands, we are all facing similar challenges.

Cormac Russell, managing director of Nurture Development and a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago, has worked in more than 35 countries over the past 21 years; training communities, agencies, NGOs and governments in ABCD and other strength- based approaches. Cormac’s work focusses on citizen-led action and enabling people at neighbourhood level to become more powerful.

Cormac’s next trip will be to the Strengthening Communities Conference in Aviemore on 21st and 22nd September 2017, to deliver a session entitled ‘Inside out: the only people who can build community are those who live, sleep and work there’.

From healthcare to education, there is never just one linear route for services; health and wellbeing goes beyond doctors and hospitals and education goes beyond schools, indeed wellbeing, and learning are not just about services, they are about life and community. Communities are taking matters into their own hands to ensure that they build strong interdependent communities to do what they do best, and ensure that services are there to effectively do the rest.

Nurture Development enables this by creating learning sites where people can walk alongside others and learn. These sites build upon the skills of residents, the power of local associations, and the support of local institutions to build stronger, more sustainable futures for communities.

Commenting on the proposition of communities in Scotland and the conference, Cormac Russell said: “Scotland has a culture that’s committed to community. And the battle is between remembering and forgetting – there is such a strong heritage in the Highlands and Islands that has been lost in many other places. This heritage is in the DNA of the region and it has to be defended and nurtured.

“I’m really looking forward to hearing the stories from communities across Scotland at the conference – I’m not just there to share my learnings and how we can apply ABCD theories to challenges, I’m there to learn too.

“I see increasing numbers of people wanting to get involved in community development and tackle important issues. There’s more at stake now than there has ever been before and I look forward to opening up conversation with communities in Scotland and the Highlands and Islands.”

The Strengthening Communities Conference takes place at Aviemore Highland Resort on 21st and 22nd September 2017. More information can be found here.

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