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An Italian woman may become an intensely involved member of the ethnic and cultural community of her Nigerian husband.
Whichever community defines your work, you will want to get to know it well. What do we mean by understanding and describing the community?
Understanding the community entails understanding it in a number of ways. Whether or not the community is defined geographically, it still has a geographic context -- a setting that it exists in.
Getting a clear sense of this setting may be key to a full understanding of it. At the same time, it's important to understand the specific community you're concerned with. You have to get to know its people -- their culture, their concerns, and relationships -- and to develop your own relationships with them as well.
Every community has a physical presence of some sort, even if only one building. Most have a geographic area or areas they are either defined by or attached to. It's important to know the community's size and the look and feel of its buildings, its topography the lay of the land -- the hills, valleys, rivers, roads, and other features you'd find on a mapand each of its neighborhoods.
Also important are how various areas of the community differ from one another, and whether your impression is one of clean, well-maintained houses and streets, or one of shabbiness, dirt, and neglect.
If the community is one defined by its population, then its physical properties are also defined by the population: The characteristics of those places can tell you a great deal about the people who make up the community. Their self-image, many of their attitudes, and their aspirations are often reflected in the places where they choose -- or are forced by circumstance or discrimination -- to live, work, gather, and play.
Roads, bridges, transportation local public transportation, airports, train lineselectricity, land line and mobile telephone service, broadband service, and similar "basics" make up the infrastructure of the community, without which it couldn't function. Patterns of settlement, commerce, and industry.
Where are those physical spaces we've been discussing? Communities reveal their character by where and how they create living and working spaces. Are heavy industries located next to residential neighborhoods? If so, who lives in those neighborhoods?
Are some parts of the community dangerous, either because of high crime and violence or because of unsafe conditions in the built or natural environment? It's vital to understand who makes up the community. Age, gender, race and ethnicity, marital status, education, number of people in household, first language -- these and other statistics make up the demographic profile of the population.
When you put them together e. The long-term history of the community can tell you about community traditions, what the community is, or has been, proud of, and what residents would prefer not to talk about.
Recent history can afford valuable information about conflicts and factions within the community, important issues, past and current relationships among key people and groups -- many of the factors that can trip up any effort before it starts if you don't know about and address them.
Community leaders, formal and informal. Some community leaders are elected or appointed -- mayors, city councilors, directors of public works. Others are considered leaders because of their activities or their positions in the community -- community activists, corporate CEO's, college presidents, doctors, clergy.
Community culture, formal and informal. This covers the spoken and unspoken rules and traditions by which the community lives.
It can include everything from community events and slogans -- the blessing of the fishing fleet, the "Artichoke Capital of the World" -- to norms of behavior -- turning a blind eye to alcohol abuse or domestic violence -- to patterns of discrimination and exercise of power.
Understanding the culture and how it developed can be crucial, especially if that's what you're attempting to change. Most communities have an array of groups and organizations of different kinds -- service clubs Lions, Rotary, etc.The consequences of distrust of the federal government are equally complex.
The growth of this opinion since the s has not been accompanied by a commensurate loss of appetite for government programs or solutions.
Opinions about using the government to solve important problems have changed remarkably little over the past 30 years. USAJOBS is the Federal Government's official one-stop source for Federal jobs and employment information.
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