Change agents are individuals who indirectly or directly initiate change. For example, a change agent may be a person employed within a company whose passion revolutionizes the processes that structure the organization. Change agents are the catalyst for change within the community. Their presence fosters community development. Community development projects link people with one another (Homan, 2010). Additionally, the aforementioned provides opportunity for multiple streams of income to enter the community that will theoretically transform unsavory conditions which will eventually lead to improvements in the public’s quality of life. These changes are made possible from the resources available to the community. Admittedly, a community may not have access to a large vault of money; however, it may acquire funding through alternate forms of capital. A healthy community relies on multiple streams of revenue to guarantee that it is able to sustain itself and grow. Additionally, a healthy community consists of community members who actively work together to improve their neighborhood.
According to Homan (2010), there are numerous forms of capital available to the community that many fail to consider. Some examples include natural or environmental, physical, political, human and social (Homan, 2010). Each of the aforementioned examples can be used as leverage to obtain financial backing if funding is required. Environmental capital may be one of the most important forms of capital as it includes the natural features and resources of the area. Investing in one’s environment is essential because it is the foundation for the community. Consequently, community members invest in their surroundings because they are emotionally invested so the property’s attractiveness and features must be maintained at all cost. Human capital is the central source of wealth for the community as it allows direct access to stored skills, talents, passion, energy and currency (Homan, 2010). Additionally, political capital involves access to the system of policy setting and enforcement in the community. Utilizing political capital allows community members to enact change and influence policy pertinent to the improvement of the community.
Social capital is the system of community norms and interrelationships that produce trust, collaborative action and community consciousness. A community rich in social capital will likely undertake efforts to develop other forms of capital that may be in short supply in the community. Social capital is a fundamental strength of the community. According to Homan’s (2012) study on school performance, it is suggested that the availability of social capital within the community can substitute for what is missing within a family (Homan, 2010). Alternatively, low percentages of social capital increase the probability that community members will feel powerless, exploited and unable to effect change. This knowledge is important because it reveals the importance of cultivating social capital. Social capital strengthens both individuals and communities through networks of connections, and this concept has tremendous merit for community change agents. It is the presence of social capital that motivates members to focus on the success of the collective.
The community has the power to create vocational and educational programs that will benefit the collective community. Resources are available to the community, but sometimes the collective must work together to utilize the capital effectively. Each person within the community has the ability to offer skill sets that are relevant; however, the community must be on one accord to assure optimal success. By including everyone within the community, members feel more obligated to offer assistance. Moreover, they become emotional invested in improving their community. This connection is essential to assure the success and continuation of all planned projects.
Homan, M. S. (2010). Promoting Community Change. Belmont: Cengage Learning.