At the heart of the Global ARC's work is the idea of "Authentic Demand." In plain language, Authentic Demand occurs when people come together to take collective action to make something happen -or- stop something from happening in their community. It occurs when an organized, knowledgeable and engaged community inserts its voice into the public dialogue. In specific terms, it is defined as ". . . resident voices at decision-making tables, with competence and confidence to participate fully in the deliberations and who understand that they are connected to constituencies in their neighborhoods to whom they are accountable." For there to be real accountability, these constituencies must be organized.
Creating Authentic Demand begins with community organizing and the building of democratic constituent organizations (residents of a neighborhood, students, parents, etc.). It can only be fully achieved through those organizations acting as the legitimate voices for their constituencies.
The Global ARC supports the development of Authentic Demand by working with communities to build their capacity to generate, receive, share, assess and act upon knowledge and information that impacts their quality of life. Building on existing social networks within a community, we develop Knowledge/Action Networks that provide the basis for building a strong, connected community.
The Global ARC's work is focused in four areas:
The Global ARC’s work focuses on four areas: Green Infrastructure, Refugees, Neighborhoods and Youth. The intent in each of these areas is to assist the residents in developing Knowledge/Action Networks that allow them to critically analyze their situation, research their issue(s) and work in collaboration with others to develop creative and innovative approaches to community issues.
Green Infrastructure ~ Progressive Planning:
The Green Infrastructure & Progressive Planning focus grows from the Global ARC's commitment to creating Healthy Places. The thought that Place Matters means that we must successfully address the challenges to our environment. Even if all social inequities were eliminated, human life as we know it will be threatened if we do not have safe Food, Water, Air and Clean Energy. Progressive Planning involves including the voices of all parties impacted by the issues into the planning process. This means that in addition to the regional and city planners, elected officials, researchers, scientists and bureaucrats, we must add the voices of community residents (including youth) and community-based organizations.
The Global ARC’s work in this area is centered on the Ocean View Growing Grounds, a living laboratory located on a 22,000 square foot piece of property that is home to a community garden and Learning and Research Center located in a food desert in San Diego. Using the garden and food as a focal point, the Global ARC is developing Knowledge/Action Networks in the surrounding neighborhood that will increase people’s access to healthy, locally grown food and share knowledge about environment and health emerging from institutions like UC San Diego and other community models from across the country. The goals are to increase both the health of the neighborhood and their level of civic engagement.
Global ARC staff have been working with the refugee community in a variety of ways for over six years. Its work is focused on supporting their efforts to organize and have their voices heard and their issues addressed. These efforts have included conducting Participatory Action Research Projects to name and document concerns with access to healthcare, ability to get and maintain public benefits, quality education for their children, access to healthy food, etc. This research is then used to develop action plans that collectively address community concerns.
The Global ARC‘s work with youth takes a Community Youth Development approach that brings together the best practices of Youth Development with best practices of Community Development. It recognizes that having our youth become healthy, happy and contributing adults requires engaging them in their world in appropriate ways as they grow. At the center of this approach are youth-adult partnerships that are built on mutual respect for the perspective each brings to an issue. The energy, creativity, optimism of youth can be powerful if it is focused and applied thoughtfully to any issue. The experience of adults is critical to knowing how and where to focus all that energy. There is enormous power to effect positive change inherent in this partnership.
The Global ARC’s work in this area is in the exploratory stage and is focused on working with Neighbor Associations within the City of San Diego. These neighborhood associations are calling for a greater say in the City’s planning as it relates to their neighborhoods. While this project is in the visioning and early strategic planning stage, the Global ARC views these associations as vital structures that support an organized community voice within the dialog regarding planning and problem solving effecting their respective neighborhoods.