I met today with leaders of Aberfoyle Park Baptist Churches’ newest venture called “The Meeting Place”. This venture was inspired by a desire to put Asset Based Community Development into action. And it gets some stuff really right in my opinion.
At its center it is a mini-café space from which spin off any number of community gatherings centered around topics, programs or activities that community members would like to share with one another. Whether it is teaching a new skill or playing a game.
What I like about it:
It’s starting where the community are at.
The meeting place is augmenting a couple of projects already happening in the Aberfoyle Park Baptist space. It’s bouncing off a Seniors Exercise class, a volunteering program and a Mainly Music program. It’s not starting everything from scratch but adding to some stuff that is already going well. Creating additional buzz around spaces where there is already strength.
It’s starting with small, short, cheap pilot projects.
Because there are already a couple of existing programs there is room for other small projects to be trialled alongside without needing to be massive successes in their first incarnation. Trying a lot of things and allowing them to scale as appropriate is a good way to get a feel for what works in the community without investing too much energy and time. Even the café venture they have established at the heart of the project is small. Just a very humble espresso machine and a few homemade treats for sale.
It’s creating a hub from which people’s gifts can be shared.
Although the project has started primarily with people from the Church community sharing their gifts the hope of the project is that increasingly those contributing will be former participants who, in conversation at the café and within the mini-projects will be inspired (and encouraged by the leaders) to believe they might have something to contribute to this space as well.
Well done to Liz and Jacqui for giving this a red hot go and I can’t wait to see what might be birthed from your creativity as this evolves.