When people discover what they have, they find power.
When people join together in new connections and relationships, they build power.
When people become more productive together, they exercise their power to address problems and realize dreams.
The Real Communities Partnerships Initiative (RCP) was launched statewide in 2010 by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) to support community and civic engagement through the creation of inclusive and welcoming communities where people of all abilities are valued equally and are active participants in making the community better for everyone.
Because of our long-standing commitment to transformational community engagement as a standard practice, GCDD tagged Global Ubuntu to provide oversight for the RCP Initiative. We worked alongside partners to support them in engaging community members, trained them in Asset-based Community Development and Popular Education principles, and helped them build capacity through facilitated learning opportunities.
This thoughtful, action-learning approach equipped community members at the local, grassroots level to use person-centered supports, community-centered connections, and persistent and reflective learning to work toward common goals to improve their community. RCP program partners were located through the state, including in Americus, Clarkston, Dahlonega, Macon, Moultrie, and Savannah.
Purposefully involving people with and without developmental disabilities in collaborative projects was pivotal to the framework of Real Communities Partnerships. Because the goal of the RCP was to create opportunities to strengthen social capacity and advocate for change, projects were determined by the individual partner communities and varied according to local needs and desires.
By handing the reins to individual communities and leading by stepping back, Global Ubuntu helped GCDD support real communities to flourish and achieve real and lasting, community-based change.
Along with the RCP, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) and Global Ubuntu worked together to support Welcoming Community Dialogues (WCD) on social issues and themes in communities statewide. The aim of the dialogues was to create space for community members of differing backgrounds, races and abilities to discuss and dream of a society where everyone is treated with dignity and justice.
In October 2019, we hosted the Welcoming Community Summit in Clarkston, GA to showcase the community dialogues, celebrate successes, and to practice and learn for continued community building.
Through the lens of the Real Communities Initiative, the Welcoming Community Dialogues and Summit provided the foundation for a movement wherein the culture shifts from one of hate, unfairness, and dehumanization to one of love and belonging where the principle of morality is practiced as the norm.
THE DIALOGUES ARE POISED TO SHIFT CULTURE AND ATTITUDES SO THAT EVERYONE IS ABLE TO REGARD OTHERS WITH EMPATHY AND COMPASSION, PEOPLE FEEL WELCOMED, AND DEVELOP A SENSE OF BELONGING.
The recent launch of the Welcoming Community Movement Fund is confirmation of the need for continued support of initiatives that call-in the voices of marginalized persons throughout Georgia for a seat at the table to discuss and mobilize around issues impacting their ability to thrive.
The purpose of the Welcoming Community Movement (WCM) is to continue to pave the way toward an equitable and just society - foundational of welcoming communities - where people across race, ability, ethnicity, culture, class, socioeconomic background, educational status, gender, and religion are treated with dignity and respect.
Global Ubuntu and GCDD supported communities to understand that a welcoming community is a dream and journey that a community can take together; it is not a short-term investment but doesn’t have to be hard. Community-building conversations can start over coffee or dinner simply by asking how we can create a fair and welcoming community for all.
Through the WCD and WCM, we worked with community builders throughout Georgia - including in Athens, Augusta, Comer, Fort Gaines, LaGrange, Tifton, and Warner Robins - by providing funding, training, facilitation, and mentoring in support of their efforts to assist in the creation of welcoming communities.