“Miss you know any don weh good?”
“I want to talk to the adults in the community but i don’t know how. I am unfamilar with the politics of the area and afraid of coming face to face with the don. I have been told several times that you have to go in through the don. You have to have the leadership of the community on your side. But what if the leadership is a don and what if the don is not a good leader? What if our view points are opposed? What if i become a threat to the don?”
Di Institute for Social Leadership is concerned with exploring and engaging different ideas of leadership. We consider social leadership to be an important move forward or shift towards creating equitable, caring communities and responsible, socially and politically aware individuals. We do not define communities as merely a physical location but a collective of individuals who share a similar vision or interest in how we all can live together.
However in the Jamaican context, Leadership and community have very familiar meanings.
Leadership refers to a responsibility or role, to be in charge of a task or group of people is to demonstrate leadership. Community is usually physical and usually inner-city communities or rural communities come to mind. Community Leadership is usually connected to the “Don”.
Leadership is closely related to the idea of power. The link between leadership and power is a significant one. One of the questions that the Institute for Social leadership will have to engage is how power and leadership work in physical communities and whether or not the idea and model of social leadership challenges the present as well as what we can learn from that relationship and dynamic.
Any work that looks at social change and social re-engineering will bring us close to physical communities. Di Institute is located close to many communities and so we will have to understand the dynamics of the life of youth and adults that we want to engage. These communities are not targets because we feel like this is where most of the work needs to be done, but we want to increase access to learning and provide support to grow where it is limited and we also want to connect to people. Physical communities such as the ones near to the ISL have always been important for their potential to start revolutionary change in a country.
In our reflection on communities, leadership and dons we have identified a few questions which we are seeking answers to over time. These answers we believe can help in the creation of a model for social leadership.
- How do we successfully engage community leadership whether we consider it good or bad?
- What are the strategies that exist that different individuals and organizations can utilise in engaging communities?
- How can work be done with communities without engaging community leadership and politics?
- How do members of a community negotiate the leadership of the community?
- What do we know of the dynamics of community leadership?
- How can we create good leadership models in the community?
- Is it problematic for outsiders of a community to get involved in the social and economic development of the “community”?
- How can we get close enough to learn from community structures?
- What dangers do communities present?
- What is the objective of government engagement with communities? Are there alternative objectives to be pursued?
- Are communities separate entities on the island?
- What is the definition of a community? How are they formed? Is development work restricted to community work in Jamaica?
- Why are communities important?