Banagher Community Plan 2018 – 2023
There are three key questions, the answers to which set the context for this plan.
- Why Banagher?
- Why Community Planning of this particular type?
- Why now?
Banagher has a history of community engagement and self-help.
In 2007 Banagher took part in an IAP – Integrated Area Planning – process. This was a participatory planning process through which the community reflected on the town and its potential and identified a number of projects for the future development of the community.
In 2018 Banagher once again recognised that as the living landscape which shapes the community had and was changing, they needed to respond; as a community, recognise and react to that changing environment and plan for the future.
The objective is to create a resilient community in Banagher. Resilience has many translations – spirit, strength, buoyancy – and it is both to avail of these attributes and enhance them in the future, that has led Banagher to develop this plan. A plan that is designed by Banagher for Banagher.
Why Community Planning of this particular type?
This plan does not concentrate on what Banagher does not have, on its difficulties and its challenges. It concentrates on Banagher’s assets and seeks to identify ways in which these assets can be used and developed to the benefit of the community. In this it reflects what is known as Asset Based Community Development.
Many community development actions arise as a result of a perceived need in a community; they are a response to an issue that gains prominence at a particular time and become active when one or more individuals become energised to pursue a response to the perceived issue.
These may be seen as often being negative triggers to positive action. The triggers arise from perceived weaknesses in the community but they result in community mobilisation. Ideally such responses are positive and developmental in nature in nature, though they may sometimes result in actions which are more devoted to criticism and remonstration rather than positive action.
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a strategy for sustainable community-driven development. Beyond the mobilisation of a particular community, ABCD is concerned with how to link local assets to the wider policy and programme environment. The appeal of ABCD lies in its underlying assumption that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilising existing, but often unrecognised assets, and thereby responding to and creating local social, economic and cultural opportunity. ABCD builds on the assets that are already found in the community and mobilises individuals, associations, and institutions to come together to build on their assets– not concentrate exclusively on their needs.
A second power of ABCD is found in the local associations who should drive the community development process and leverage additional support and entitlements. These associations are the vehicles through which all a community’s assets can be identified and then connected to another in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness. A key part of this plan process is to identify the associations and/or groups, existing and new, who will take on a particular project and bring it forward.
ABCD’s community-driven approach is in keeping with the principles and practice of participatory approaches to development, where active participation and empowerment (and the prevention of disempowerment) are the basis of practice. It is a strategy directed towards sustainable, social, economic and cultural development that is community-driven.
There are many assets to build upon – the people of Banagher; the places that define Banagher and the partnership of people together that make up many of the towns institutions, groups and organisations.
This plan focuses on the period 2018 – 2023. It identifies key visions and the actions needed to help realise these visions. The most important focus of all is the participation of people in making these actions happen, and it will be noted that many of the initial steps involve the establishment of small groups to take on a particular project. This will require that many in the community mobilise; that many who may not have felt the urge to be involved in the past do so now. There are many things to be done. It will require many hands to do them all.
Ireland has come through a very difficult period in the last decade. During that period, difficulty and loss, problems and retrenchment were the dominant features both of society and of public discourse. That has now changed. Many aspects of life have improved, though by no means all. Resources are again becoming available for various developments and projects. Now is an appropriate time for Banagher to put itself in the position of knowing what it wants, on having a clear, shared vision for the town and of knowing the actions it wishes to see taken so that it can engage in a positive, focused and coherent way with those who have access to resources and authority to assist the town in reaching its goals. This is also needed so that the resources of the community can also be focused and used in a concentrated way to achieve agreed outcomes and not dissipated by a focus on too many priorities and unachievable goals.
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