We believe that healthy communities are built and sustained through systems that invite and foster participation by the neighbors within the community. Thus, Mika’s method for neighborhood development is to identify and support the leaders already living and working within the neighborhoods. Mika carries out this strategy through its Community Coach and Coordinators. Their commitment is wholly focused on building relationships to develop, train and equip existing leaders who have emerged from the communities and taken it upon themselves to initiate transformation and growth in their neighborhoods. They identify potential leaders, young and old, who have the desire and potential to bring change to their communities.
We work to build the capacity of these leaders to identify, design, fund and manage initiatives that positively impact their neighborhoods.
For Mika, a developed leader:
Pursues a life of obedience to God
Maintains healthy relationships with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation
Engages in learning opportunities to increase his or her leadership capacity
Leads positive change in his or her community
Organizations exist in our community to provide services that address economic needs and basic relief to the poor; Mika’s unique work is to build whole relationships through leadership development and community building. Mika engages neighbors in an empowering process in order to address the broken relationships that prevent the poor from making decisions necessary to overcome poverty.
This relational understanding of poverty has shaped the way we choose to respond to the needs in our community. When poverty is defined solely in economic terms, solutions tend to be short term fixes to a larger problem and may lead to dependency on social services. According to Myers, the “unspoken assumption is that when the missing things are provided, the poor will no longer be poor” (Myers 65). Relief-based approaches, which provide temporary aid to reduce immediate suffering, can perpetuate the cycle of poverty that is found in cities across the country. This may lead to charity fatigue between the giver and receiver and it tends to overlook the transformative potential already existing within a community. We approach the issues of poverty in Costa Mesa with the recognition that neighbors who struggle economically are also experiencing relational poverty. We seek to address these issues with solutions that not only acknowledge the economic needs of our neighbors but also seek to reconcile relationships with one another, the community and God.
Easy as ABCD
Mika uses an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to accomplish our mission. This method of community development seeks to maximize a neighborhood’s existing resources. It is based on the belief that neighborhoods have a diverse mix of talented, passionate, and driven residents, capable of creating vibrant communities. These skilled residents, however, often lack the resources and connections to realize their potential. ABCD is an alternative to a more traditional needs-based approach, and rather than focusing on their deficiencies, this approach brings to light the many opportunities present in these low-income communities.