Community Heroes: What A Year As An AmeriCorps VISTA Member Taught Me About Community Development
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You don't care about who I am, you only care about what I have to say. You want to know whether the content of this book will improve your life and be useful to you.
Hence, I have to persuade you that the content of this book will be useful to you and worth your money. Because that is obviously what I want you to do; buy it and follow the advice it gives you.
You probably care deeply about various issues in society–homelessness, inequality, climate change–but need additional tools to better understand and more strategically tackle them.
You're ready and willing to learn because you know that merely talking about how awful things are isn't a very effective way of solving them. You're also tired of the malicious manner in which every societal issue is politicized, and you hate the toxic bickering between both sides of the political spectrum. You're desperate for a more level-headed perspective on these issues.
That said, you know that social change requires a lot of work, which leads you to believe that your efforts are too small to make a difference. You're afraid that you'll fail in achieving this goal, despite your positive intentions. You think that if you can't succeed in changing one huge existential problem in the world, it's not worth trying at all. If your contribution doesn't make a big-picture impact in the world, what's the point, right?
Chances are high that you've frequently fallen into the following trap: you read an amazing article about an issue in society, become inspired to make a difference. and then lose all that energy a week later, with few results to show for it.
Because of these challenges, Community Heroes will focus on community development, rather than global change. Guided by my experience in the nonprofit sector as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, I will help you focus on incremental change in your community, rather than transformational changes to the entire world.
Even though you hear people say that there are so many problems in society that you're powerless to create change, that "the system" is rigged against us, and that it's impossible to change it, I can assure you that these are not valid excuses to give up and do nothing to help your community.
"But there are no problems in my community!" A painfully common misconception that is caused by people not looking closely enough. No matter how great your community is, it has many problems that need solving.
Community Heroes is for a range of audiences. It's for people that are about to become (or already are) nonprofit professionals, which specifically includes AmeriCorps VISTA members, but is certainly not limited to them. It's for those that care deeply about social impact, community development, and nonprofit work. Finally, it's for those of you that don't necessarily want to change the world but do want to learn how to change your communities.
In Community Heroes, you'll learn why it's important to:
. Suspend your dreams of changing the world and instead strive to be a hero in your own community;
. Understand why working on Wall Street might be a more effective way of achieving social impact than working for a nonprofit;
. Recognize why your efforts to make a positive impact in society might actually be for selfish, instead of selfless reasons;
. Understand the barriers to employment that disenfranchised people face and why they are such powerful impediments to progress;
. Break the unfounded stereotypes you might have of the (working) poor in order to serve them more effectively;
. And much more!