When we are moved by a complex community problem (whether it be poverty, global warming, community safety; or another local need or deficiency) we are tempted to try to quickly provide a programmatic fix; to design services to fill the gaps and fix the problems.
The result of our eagerness, however, can be a community that feels dis-empowered and dependent. We have all seen the results to a community in which people have become passive recipients of expensive services rather than active agents in their own and their families’ lives.
Services are important and necessary to meet some community needs. An asset based approach to community development (ABCD), however, helps us to distinguish between those needs that can best be met by family, friends, and a well connected community/neighbourhood; those needs best met through co-operation (and collaboration!) between services and communities; and those that can only be delivered through services. ABCD supports each of these groups to best perform its role in a community that is flourishing.
We will be taking a “deep-dive” into how we can use an strengths based approach in responding to complex issues (using Domestic Violence as an example) in our January Faith in Action workshop with the inspiring Dr Richard Harmer as our host again.
More details on the website
In the meantime, if this interests you, I would like to suggest checking out the following short resource: A Glass Half Full: how an asset approach can improve community health and well-being. (30pg PDF)
While coming for a community health perspective in the UK; the authors of this report have a lot to contribute to our more general approaches to community work here in Australia (or anywhere).
The success stories of this little resource teach us:
- We can be inspired by what is already working in our community (even if it is only something small) and generate more of it (like I talked about in my earlier blog post on bright spots).
- We must cherish all people! When we see all people as valuable contributors we recognise that as soon as people are talking to each other they are working on the solutions. Suddenly it’s not all up to me!
- A strength based approach will actively build capacity, safety and confidence among communities.
- Participatory tools create shared ambitions, empower local communities and build ownership of improvement and regeneration processes.
- By building pride in achievements and a realisation of what they have to contribute, communities create confidence in their ability to be producers not recipients of development.
If you would like to learn more about this then consider coming along to one of our Faith in Action Workshops.
To contribute to this conversation please leave a comment below and subscribe to this blog in the top right hand corner.