The goal of social planning is to strengthen communities and build pathways to well-being for all citizens. Creating community well-being is about learning how to live together in a way that gives everyone the opportunity to develop their full potential.
Like any other type of planning, the process includes identifying goals and making a plan to achieve those goals. As the old adage goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Building strong communities is no different.
According to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia, “Community social planning is a local, democratic system for setting priorities, arriving at equitable compromise, and taking action. It supports community needs and interests in social, cultural, economic and environmental affairs. It is a process for building community well-being.”
In its optimal state, social planning is an ongoing organized presence in the community, something that doesn’t need to be recreated every time an issue, need, or opportunity arises.
In Belleville and Hastings County, there have been ongoing efforts toward social planning over the past many decades, but these efforts have been sporadic, piecemeal, and temporary – often driven by available pools of funding. While achieving a strong, resilient, and vibrant community is a goal for us all, it is easy to overlook long-term plans for vibrancy, in the face of more immediate tasks, goals, or crises.
As Belleville and Hastings County grow, it is time to put a more intentional effort into planning for a strong resilient future. This means planning for social justice, equity and opportunity, participation and inclusion, respect for celebration of diversity, building consensus and community decision-making, building equitable distribution of resources, and maintaining a healthy public service system to support community, among other priorities.
The Community Development Council of Quinte (CDC Quinte) has recently updated their mandate to put Social Planning front and center, allow it to guide future work, and to support all social organizations in our region to do the same.
Social planning means many things, but first and foremost, it means getting to know the community -- understanding their needs and wants and planning to enrich their lives. It means understanding the gifts of all those who live in our community and celebrating those gifts. It means building on what we have and using those strengths to continue to grow.
As CDC Quinte begins its journey towards a strong social planning mandate, we look forward to reaching out to you and learning more about the community you want. We all deserve to eat and we all deserve a healthy community. Stay tuned as we venture in to our upcoming Asset Mapping project. We look forward to working with you.
Amanda Solmes is the Community Research Coordinator for the Community Development Council of Quinte and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.