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The Chennai Chapter of Community Leadership Circles has chalked out six initiatives to help people and neighbourhoods

If the wind recently brought the phrase “Community Leadership Circles” you way, and gave you a bad case of “information shock”, just relax. The concept is relatively new, and it is only now beginning to have an effect on local communities in Chennai.

So, first things first. Community Leadership Circles is a Facebook initiative that is world-wide in its reach, but significantly hyper-local in its core function.

“Community Leadership Circles (CLC) is essentially a platform for leaders trying to effect positive changes in their local communities, both through the communication advantage provided by technology and on-the-field interventions. It is restricted to those engaged in social service. This is how it functions: Every chapter of CLC will consist of the admins of FB groups with such a focus,” says Raghu Kumar, Chennai lead of Community Leadership Circles, and an admin of Organic Garden Foundation.

“Faceook started this initiative only last year, with its global launch taking place in Berlin in December, with the leads of 115 CLCs from 85 countries coming together for a major gathering. I attended the meet as the lead of the CLC – Chennai chapter. The first major meet-up of the Chennai chapter of CLC took place in February 2019. We are always connected online, but we have also a schedule of periodical offline meet-ups,” explains Raghu.

How does CLC help promote community work?

“It does two significant things. One, it expands the contacts of a member-group, giving them access to other groups working in the social-service domain. Two, by creating common projects, it encourages a cross-current of ideas and sharing of diverse resources and expertise. This ensures synergy and multiplier effect,” says Gopinath Ramakrishnan, a trustee of Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN) and an admin of its FB group.

CLC ensures timely help, says Divya Swapna Raj, an admin of Women's League Foundation.

“Often, we become painfully aware that more people could have benefitted from an initiative, after the initiative is over, because these people did not show up on our radar. Now, if I am doing an initiative for underprivileged women, I will start a conversation around it in the CLC group, and thereby receive all the support I need, and more significantly, be pointed in the direction where I can find a great number of the needy people for whom this initiative is being organised,” says Divya.

Can CLC impact the work being carried out by residents' welfare groups?

Says Gopinath, “As CLC is open only to admins of FB groups, members of residents’ welfare associations can be part of it unless they are themselves admins of any FB group. However, as CLC works on the ground and grapples with local issues, the collaboration with residents’ welfare associations invariably happens in an organic manner."

“Lake rejuvenation and tree plantation” is one of the six focus areas of the Chennai chapter of CLC, and especially in this context, collaborations with residents’ groups should be unavoidable, as many such groups are already extremely active in this sphere of community action.

Six focus areas

The Chennai Chapter of Community Leadership Circles has a wide variety of influences, as it accommodates groups that are working in practically every corner of community service.

Besides continuing to work in their specific domains, the groups will work collaboratively on six major focus areas.

Raghu explains: “One focus area is ‘Food for the needy’. There are many groups in CLC that do this service, and by making this a collaborative project, we are only enabling how these groups can locate more beneficiaries with the help of the other groups. Then, there is lake rejuvenation and tree plantation, something that we realised we have to do urgently, after Chennai experienced a severe water crisis. Other common focus areas are: ensuring mental health; creating an accident-free nation; preventing child abuse; and creating sustainable livelihoods for women.”

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 2:54:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/connect-online-work-offline/article29992058.ece

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