Growing and learning in rural communities – a revised edition

Back and front covers of book - growing and learning in rural communities - a revised edition

A professional development manual for facilitators on the front-line of community engagement and management. An introduction to theory, practice and evaluation of a model of Collaborative engagement for transformation.

Publication Date: 19th July 2024.

Distribution Channels: To be advised shortly.

Review quotes

This is social and spiritual change at its absolute best. – it really matters. Sincerely Debbie.
Adjunct Professor in Environmental Humanities Deborah Bird Rose, wrote in a letter following her involvement in A Regional Affair the story so far.

Helen’s work on collaborative engagement is particularly powerful as it tells the on the ground histories of local communities, and the practical changes that can be created.
Professor Robyn Eversole, 2022.


This revised edition is for facilitators (paid and unpaid), those on the front line of community engagement and management. The title Growing and learning in rural communities, reflects the source of motivation for my search to discover ways to engage across divisions created by stereo-typical myths and policies that enshrines benefits for some at the expense of communities and landscapes.

The introduction to nine strategies that engage community members and decision makers in dialogue has proved to be a foundational resource for those tasked with reframing community and organisational relationships towards mutually beneficial partnerships. Each strategy is accompanied by underpinning theory followed by suggestions for implementation and examples of outcomes from community engagement programs. Participants share insights of how hearing the reality of diverse life experiences challenged, or affirmed, their own views and relationships. In regular use by universities and government departments involved in facilitating community engagement across sectors.

The regional approach offers a human-scale understanding of the impact of global, national and regional policies on community relationships and the environment on which they depend. The stories record communities taking steps towards leading change, participating in planning towards mutually beneficail partnerships. The outcome is to transform relationships with agencies and organisations shifting experiences from despair to optimism.

Table of Contents

Introduction. The motivation, journey and potential. Why and how. Originally motivated to reconnect understanding of rural/urban interdependency the theory and practice expanded to challenge binary thinking across gender, race, ability, Indigenous knowledge and culture. Brief overview of changes since first publication in 2000.

Chapter 1. Personal and community development
Introduction to community development. Defining community. Clarifying language. Why rural development? Goals of community development. Practice of community development.Role of community development worker. Facilitation. State of our communities. Locating learning within communities. Changing roles: partnerships with government, industry, corporations, and public and private sector organisations. Further reading.

Chapter 2. Strength in diversity
Challenges of change and richness of diversity. Beginning: the important first step. Role of community development worker. Same but different. Adversity creating opportunity. Why and how people change. Learning together. Further reading.

Chapter 3. Safety and respect
Principles of regional development as if communities really mattered. Involvement and participation. Safety. Practice and reflection. Healing divisions. Further reading.

Chapter 4. Collaborative engagement for transformation.
A sequenced approach introducing theoretical contribution of dialogue, time, visioning, local community ownership, networking, co-operative culture, action, transformation and reflection as strategies for change, strategies for implementation and outcomes. Further reading.

Chapter 5. Bio-regional approach
Community development workers role in finding out. Establishing partnerships. Learning about learning. Networking. Regional communities, regional groups and peak bodies. Communication Social media.Establishing and financing projects. Further reading.

Chapter 6. Continuing to develop
Narrative as a tool for change. Using media. Continuing to affirm. Walking away: knowing how, when and why.Communities and organisations continuing to engage and learn.

July 9, 2024
Community Engagement, Professional Development, Publications