By utilizing the skills, talents, and knowledge of each community member and tapping into the resources and relationships that are inherent within each community they can identify issues, define solutions and create change. Each community member brings their own expertise and talents to the table, combining with others to form a strong community force. Helping individuals recognize their own strengths; learn new skills and develop the confidence to utilize them within a group setting defines for us— grassroots leadership development.
CCAEJ approaches our leadership development within the context of the following principles:
o We assist communities in speaking for themselves-not advocating for them.
o We help people develop skills and local resources that inspire independence—not dependence.
o We bring people together in ways that encourage trust, respect and tolerance among diverse peoples. To that end, we actively seek opportunities to bring together people of varying backgrounds—ethnic, racial, class, gender and sexual orientations.
o We are sensitive to local community culture and ethnic makeup. Therefore, CCAEJ publishes its materials in the predominant languages of the area and following the cultural traditions of local neighborhoods.
o We actively seek broad inclusiveness and collaboration with all whose lives are touched and who choose to apply their skills and interest to the issues at hand to listen, learn and share leadership.
o We honor and help to develop the leadership and expertise of each individual, especially those who have traditionally been marginalized because of race, income, gender or age.
The building blocks of every community lie in the relationships at the neighborhood level. We work to enable local residents to be the authorities within their neighborhoods. People have knowledge, contacts and skills that enable them to draw their neighbors into efforts to improve their community. Our efforts are not to build a community leader, but to encourage many community residents to share leadership. Some people are strong on research and like the details; others have strong people skills and can motivate others to get involved; others have financial skills; others have good writing skills; others have close relationships and credibility with many people in the community; and others have persuasive speaking skills. Each is a leader in their own right. Each has the ability to expand their skills and explore new experiences.