“Nothing About Us Without Us.”
Community development, community growth, community enrichment is not something that just happens. Healthy, vital, growing communities need constant care, constant attention and involvement of constituents who truly reflect the demographics of all who live, work, play and achieve meaning in the environment. Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a process tool that can open a variety of paths for exploring an organization’s ability to have greater impacts within the community.
Edventure Approaches the Community
Recently, Edventure Children’s Museum of Columbia offered video seminars in the Hartsville are to introduce this process tool. On Thursday, April 22, a group of about 12 came together over Zoom for the second time to learn about the ABCD process with Deb Wisniewski, an ABCD community development facilitator.
One of the crucial lessons that comes from this training is that community improvement should probably come from a growth mindset that begins with the assessment of what is already available in the community to help bring dreams and visions to life. And one of those assets, that appears at the top and the bottom of the list is the individual who is willing to be part of the enrichment process that must be ongoing. If you are hitting the right heart or mind buttons there should be many with your same interests ready with helping hands. And if you look at your community from an asset base instead of a liability base, you will likely find far more opportunities.
The H Gifts
The facilitator reminded all the participants early in the first session that we all had gifts that are critical to the nurturing of our communities. Those are the gifts of the head, gifts of the heart, gift of human connections and gifts of the hands that every individual has within them. One of the basics of the ABCD process is to find ways to uncover those gifts and put them to use in your organization, your community or your overall environment.
Asset Based Actions
A review of six assets that were highlighted in the ABCD training include – Individuals; Associations (both formal and informal); Institutions; Physical Assets; Economic Assets; and History/Culture.
Tool for Thinking and Building
The webinars showed a the ABCD to be an extremely interesting tool that can be used as a platform for generating discussion and planning for a wide variety of challenges. One of the key discussion points that was made that when you are thinking about doing something that involves others a major starting point would be engaging those “others” in the discussion at the beginning. That is where the idea of “nothing about us without us” would come into your thinking.
Nothing About Us Without Us
Much of community development is done from the inside out instead of from the outside in. Much of the time the needs of the organization are the central focus of activities with little regard as to how those who might receive the services can find ways to access what you have to offer. An idea that changes some of those dynamics is to talk with those who might be on the receiving end prior to setting up your program or your solution to see if it going to actually meet the challenge. This was an interesting theme during the most recent webinar because for me it connected to other ideas I have been seeing. Strong Towns, which is another organization that discusses ways to make communities better, is often pushing the idea of getting out into the neighborhood and asking people what is causing them distress or challenge. After the input, the next idea is to find ways to include those being served in the decisions that are being made. The webinar went into some detail about the “power ladder” and gave participants a lot more food for thought.
Edventure worked hard to build interest among a lot of different organizations in the Hartsville area and they have developed a package of materials from the webinars that they would be happy to share. Those who might want to learn more may contact Retha Kelly-Horne at the Hartsville Edventure Children’s museum. The bottom line of the ABCD process is relationships and if you are looking to expand your relationships, thinking about the ABCD tool might be a way to begin.