Health Administration 315
Unit 3: Mapping Community Development
Welcome to the third unit of our course on health and community development. In Unit 2, we applied systems thinking to community development; in this unit we will learn how to expand our understanding of these complex systems by mapping the community as a way to identify the key social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental components, and the relationships between them.
In the first segment, we explore concepts and tools that can be used to take a first step in effective community development practice—making a kind of graphic representation or model of the community development challenge that you and your community colleagues and allies have chosen to work on. We introduce you to tools that can be used to initiate community development action. A critical first step is to understand more deeply the scope and determinants of a critical social issue that a group of people or a community has committed itself to tackling (Figure 3.1).
Figure 3.1 Determinants of community wellbeing as identified by community leaders in Northern Pakistan. Tree by HebiFor/Pixabay . CC0.
We employ the use of a GPS metaphor to explore the types of “reading,” or information and analysis, that can help us get our bearings. The first kind of information that is needed is a “map” of the problem or of the elements of a constructive alternative toward which people and human groups can be working.
We describe two mapping tools in Segment 2: the medicine wheel, and a determinants model. The medicine wheel (Figure 3.2) can be used to analyze how the different parts of a living system interact with each other to bring a total outcome, and to gather and organize information about how life is now being experienced, what it was like in the past, and how it would look in a desired and doable future. The medicine wheel operates at many levels: the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual life of an individual; the demographics of the community (children, youth, men, women, and elders); the social, political, economic, and cultural life of the community; and the levels of engagement that are required (individual, family, community, region, wider world . . . ).
Figure 3.2. Medicine wheel showing the relationship of the parts of a living system. CC BY-SA.
In Segment 3, we explain that a determinants model begins with a question, such as: “What are the root causes (or determinants) of a particular issue?” or “What does an individual (or family, or community) need in order to have a good life?” The fourteen determinants of well-being identified by First Nation communities using the Medicine Wheel are examined as a case example of how the determinants model has been used to guide development action.