We assume a lot about the virtues of governance "from the bottom up." We trust in it as an antidote: to oppression from the other direction; to the kind of "top-down" planning that we blame for the tragedies of urban renewal; and to the hubris of any "helping professionals" who think they have good ideas about the way in which communities ought to be helped.' In short, we place a great deal of faith in the authenticity of the neighborhood-based organization as an engine of democracy. Less emphatically, we also (sometimes) assume that programs run by neighborhood-based organizations carry with them guarantees of efficiency and efficacy. It is an oft-repeated, if unproven, maxim that services delivered "low to the ground" may reach their intended beneficiaries with less slippage than if administered from a great height, and, benefiting from incorporation of local knowledge into design choice, may address needs more appropriately.
Bennett, Susan, "Little Engines that could: Community Clients, their Lawyers, and Training in the Arts of Democracy" (2002). Presentations. 359.