I am a big proponent of strengths-based practices and even when it comes to community design, I advocate for not only focusing on a needs or deficit model but moreso on amplifying inherent strengths.
Which is why I encourage clients to explore Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). In asset based community development, the emphasis is on the assets that are found in the community and mobilize individuals, associations, and institutions to come together to realise and develop their strengths.
Asset Based Community Development categorizes asset inventories into five groups:
1. Individuals- the centre of all communities are the individuals within the community who all have gifts and skills that needs to be recognised and identified.
2. Associations- are small informal groups of people, such as clubs, working with a common interest as volunteers who are critical to community mobilization.
3. Institutions- paid groups of people that generally are professionals who are structurally organized. These include government agencies and private business, as well as schools, etc.
4. Place Based- land, buildings, heritage, public and green spaces are all examples of assets for the community. A place might be a centre of natural resources, a hub of activity, living skills, transit connection or marketplace.
4. Connections- Asset Based Community Development recognises that the exchange between people sharing their gifts and assets creates connections, and these connections are a vital asset to the community
In the Community Builder : Designing Communities for Change workbook, we created this Ecosystem Resources worksheet to help you identify what are the strengths and assets that are inherent to the people that you want to serve.