What is Oakland? What is the community of Oakland? More importantly, who is Oakland? Community can be defined as “a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.” People come from diverse cultures, work longer hours and move more often, making them more transient members of their residential neighborhoods. But people still look for “community”, to belong, whether they can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, Ellis Island or a transcontinental air flight. Community is important in that it contributes to individual and social well being by establishing and maintaining channels of communication, organizing resources to meet local needs, and providing a framework where the collective is more than the sum of its parts. But how do we create and maintain this? It is created and maintained through the process of community development. Community development can be seen as an action that is purposively directed towards altering local conditions in a positive way. When specific projects are pursued with an emphasis on building social relationships and communication networks, community development has occurred. Community is enhanced when residents work together to address common issues. However, for development to be most effective and to maximize its impact within the locality, it must incorporate both social and economic needs. In understanding this process, the distinction between development in and development of community is important. Development in community is often associated with the recruitment or establishment of industry and other economic structures. While such indicators or successes are important, focusing only on them ignores the significance of the social and cultural connections between residents or to communicate needs and opportunities throughout the locale. The development of community seeks to enhance the social realm and relationships between people. It is the process of interaction, communication, and collective mobilization that is important. Central to the development of perspective is the establishment of relationships and networks between diverse community members. Such an effort would begin by bringing together a diverse and representative grouping of the local population in a routine and focused setting. This process allows channels of communication to be established that cut across class and other dividing lines. Through the purposive assessment of skills, needs, and opportunities for action, locally based plans for community and economic development that reflect the community can be prepared. Such efforts are purposive and serve as the basis for interaction that benefits the overall community. On November 16, 2006, the Town of Oakland will begin the process of community development through the first of three public workshops as part of the Town’s Comprehensive Policy Plan update. This plan will act as the guide for future development in the community, but it will be based on the public interest as communicated through the individuals of the community. Please mark your calendars and attend these important community development workshops. Additional information may be obtained by calling the Planning Department at 407/656-1117 ext. 12 or visiting the Town website at www.oaktownusa.com.