Community advancement is wanted; the community going forward together. Working with the White Mountain Apache tribe in the USA, they defined SEED-SCALE itself as “our people walking forward together.” Regardless of the words used (development, improving lives, progress, well-being) these words describe energy going forward. By contrast, these are not words of getting wealthier or economic growth, the other major way of thinking about community change.
So, to think in terms of energy for people to advance, that results when people work together. For going forward together, as when people play sports or create a drama, there are defined roles they must play. In community advancement the major role is for the community: Bottom-up action. Not just some of the community, but all. All who share an identity in common need to share the potential to improve.
This shared growth maximizes when true partnership engages from the Top-down. Top-down has people in government implementing laws and regulations that order each local society. Top-down also has people implementing flows of financing. Top-down also has religious and cultural leaders who administer the local presentation of values. These three have institutions behind them, and the institutional positions are important, but people with their specific interpretations are what engage at community level, and it is with these partnerships that communities on a daily basis either strengthen or weaken their partnership potential.
Changing Top-down/Bottom-up interactions is also influenced by Outside-in intervention. When an Outside-in contribution shows mutual advantage to the Top-down/Bottom-up engagement, size and substance of energies can shift to large effect. Such Outside-in contributions can be those of education, showing a new and better way or outcome, and they can be introducing technologies, or external financial resources.