困境之所以產生，體現了社區在推動社區營造所震盪出來的結構性課題，但也再次指明契機之所在：社區走向永續發展，不可忽略在真實情境中創造轉化學習的過程。Mattessich、Monsey與Roy即發現高社會能量與社區永續發展間的正向關係：一個社區能夠永續發展，或者是達到某種階段性的成功社造經驗，關鍵在於該社區在持續推動社造的過程中，累積了一定程度的「社會能量」（Mattessich, Monsey & Roy,1997）。他們也整理出三大向度共28個指標之「社會能量」指標，分別為社區的特質，包括所在社區的社會、心理和地理上的特質，以及其居民投注在社造工作上的努力；社區營造進行過程的特質，包括人們試圖建構社區「共同體」感的各種流程(代表性、溝通和技術支援)；以及社區工作者的特質，係指組織社區工作或是領導社區營造之工作者特質，包括使命承諾、信任、理解和經驗。
在Mattessich, Monsey & Roy所建構社區能量指標當中，其中「社區的特質」特別重視社區內部與組織成員的關係，強調討論、共識合作與社群領導；「社區營造進行過程的特質」列舉了重要的流程因素與相應的制度設計，必須能夠促成參與、自我認識與增能，以及成果滿足多數居民的利益。「社區工作者的特質」是關於來自社區內外部、投身社區營造的行動者個人，扮演著促進變革的「關鍵酵母」，而個人需要透過自我教育與學習歷程進行價值轉化。
Reconsidering community building challenges and transitions in public engagement
By Fang Ya-Hui (方雅慧),
Post-doc researcher at the National Cheng Kung University Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences; and CEO of the Kuang He Waldorf Educational Experimental Institute
Community building has been Taiwan’s most widespread grassroots movement for decades. Stemming from the 1980’s, the public generally felt a growing awareness of a need for social engagement. When martial law was lifted in 1987, public engagement moved beyond protest activism. Street demonstrations became communities, and a vibrant local public domain emerged in daily life. In 1994, the Council of Cultural Affairs (now the Ministry of Culture) identified comprehensive community development as a core policy direction and based future policies on the goal of “community empowerment”.
Looking back over the past two decades, short-term changes were achieved but long-term community development also faces internal and external challenges; for instance, community parks and wetlands built by engaging community groups were often perceived as power struggles between interest groups. Sometimes conflicts of interest became legal disputes. Because these similar issues occurred across Taiwan, it became commonly felt that having a borough chief and the head of community development committee as the same person would improve community mobilisation; or perhaps the community has connections to an external network of capable leaders and at elections the community organisation is looking for something different from the past. In other cases community building activists serve as agents between the community members and their shared resources, meaning that as projects subside so does community activity.
Even today, the engagement process in community work is highly political. Resolving conflicts requires understanding the relationship between policymakers and social interactions in the community and mediating the interaction with professional assistance.
Policy tends to use a top down approach to grassroots governance, framing citizen involvement in the context of resource distribution while also legitimising the role played by policymakers. Grassroots communities can also build citizen cohesion through requests to participate and using collaborative mechanisms that werepreviously developed among community members. The key questions are whether it is possible to break through the traditional “top down” thinking and if so, what is the role of citizens in this process.
In the process of promoting community building, involvement by practitioners affects the issues being discussed as well as the power relationship in the group. How the process is designed affects both the rights to participate in public issues and the relationship among different interest groups. Professional practitioners therefore should ensure the process leads to grassroots empowerment of knowledge and power to build the strength of communities.
Process goals and outcome goals should match the competence and pace of that community. The community and the practitioners must be extremely careful in the use of resources to avoid to ensure a fair share across the community. Maintaining a platform for discussions of public issues will help community building to become a force for enabling the community to grow and transform into a more democratic mechanism.
These challenges reflect a structural issue that surfaced in the community building process, but they also point to new opportunities: communities need support to sustain their development. When the community reaches a self-sustained development or when the community building work has reached a certain degree of success, a keys to ongoing success is the quality of motivation within the community (Mattessich, Monsey & Roy, 1997). Mattessich, Monsey & Roy list 28 factors for successful community building efforts, grouped in three categories: 1) community characteristics: the social, psychological, geographic characteristics, and the endeavours of the community members; 2) community building process characteristics: the sense of cohesion in the agenda (true sense of representation, communication and support); and 3) characteristics of community organising practitioners: commitment, responsibility, empathy and experience.
Among the community building characteristics identified by Mottessich, Monsey and Roy, the ones most relevant to the nature of community emphasise members’ relationships, ability to discuss, reach consensus and cooperate. Positive characteristics for the process emphasise a design that can promote widespread participation, self-understanding, empowerment, and results in satisfying the interest of the majority. Practitioner characteristics refers to qualities of people within or outside the community who are devoted to building the collective. With sustained commitment, these practitioners act as a vital “catalyst” to encouraging change. They must also constantly seek self-renewal and learning to help communicate these values.
In essence, the core value of community building is to stimulate internal transformation through community engagement. Experience is a necessary process for the participating citizens because change is derived from the transformations inherent in learning: respecting and accepting others and transforming from self interest to finding the common good. Professionals in community building must continue to reflect on their roles and their work and to be adaptive to local wisdom and experience, mending society by rebuilding community life (transforming relationships and establishing community life based on democratic processes), structures (building highly participatory and synergetic processes), and culture (building a democratic lifestyle for conviviality). While these core values may vary in priorities, they are all vital. By reflecting on the challenging issues faced with community work, we may very well rediscover our initial passion, take an inventory of the social capacity at the moment, and move to build up the quality and mechanism for the community from individual, relational, structural and cultural perspectives.