Different types of projects and what’s involved in getting them done.
When you first start imagining doing something in your community, it appears in your mind as a beautiful, exciting vision. You see the children playing noisily in the new park, the bright yellow van driving up to the door to deliver hot meals to the town’s seniors, the colorful awnings shading the shop windows on a revitalized main street. When you start thinking about how to actually make it happen, you’re likely to face a blank wall. Where do I get started? What on earth am I supposed to do first?
We’ll talk later about the specific steps to project planning and implementation. But one thing is certain; you’re not going to do it alone. No matter what the project, you’ll have to start by sharing your idea with other people and getting them to help you. Some of those folks (like maybe your spouse) will be happy to dream along with you. But the people whose support you’ll need to really get the project going will listen a little more critically. It’s a hard fact of life that busy, capable people are frequently approached for assistance, and tend to make quick judgments about these requests – sorting them into the people they will help and the people they will thank sincerely and get rid of as soon as possible.
As a professional grant writer and program developer I’m one of these people who gets approached frequently with great ideas for the community. A lot of them get the ‘smile and nod’ treatment. But some of them get a serious hearing, thoughtful consideration, and suggestions for next steps or resources. Sometimes, I’ll even give a promise of assistance. What makes the difference? It’s not the idea itself. (I love all ideas for how to make communities better places, that’s why I’m writing this book.) The difference is how much work it will be for me to communicate with this person. If it is clear that they have no idea what is involved with making their project a reality, I just don’t have the time or the energy to explain it all to them. If, on the other hand, they seem to have a good idea of how to approach their project, I’m happy to give them a little push forward.
So in this chapter you’re going to learn a little more about types of projects and what is involved in getting them implemented. This is just an overview. Later on we’ll discuss the steps in more detail, as well as the how to get the resources and skills you’ll need to move through the implementation process.