Tim Harrold and Andy Blakey

Recap from previous article…

On Thursday 18 April, seminars were held at Orsett Hall on the subject Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD).

The main bulk of the 120 or so delegates were from Thurrock Council, which is of course seeking ways to change its methodologies in this age of austerity in order to establish preventative strategies in the face of the soaring cost of curing all forms of societal malaise.

Facilitating the sessions was Cormac Russell of Nurture Development and the ABCD Institute.

What follows are highlights and soundbites taken from Tim’s notes for the day, followed by some further information and links about ABCD.

“No matter how rich you are, you have needs – no matter how poor you are, you have gifts.”

We must unlock opportunities now rather than continue to produce services.

ABCD logo jpegDefinitions:

  • Deficit-based thinking
    • focusing on problem IS the problem
    • can’t do attitude
  • Asset-based thinking
    • believe that people have untold possibilities
    • can do attitude!

Helpful pictures to illustrate this:

  • the institutional is a triangle or hammer – community and family are a circle or saw
    • the hammer produces predictable outcomes – the saw involves pooling together and contribution
    • it’s control versus consent (non-hierarchical)
    • ‘triangle/hammer’ produces goods and services and is client/consumer/needs-based, while ‘circle/saw’ is about care for citizens as assets
    • the two tools are in conflict – how do we get the hammer/triangle off the back of the saw/circle?
  • how do we get the institutional and the community working together?
  • institutionalisation leads to dependancy – how do we get people out of the trap of the triangle?

The task of the asset-based community is to:

  • bring people who aren’t in relationships into relationships
  • bring people who are in relationships into deeper relationships
  • bring those relationships to where the funding is

Learning Conversation

  • The Great Escape film end credits show actors with roles and skills (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdC1FHi5Xak)
  • when we identify our skills and strengths, we can connect together in productive way and be mobilised into action.
  • when energy rises, action follows (don’t focus on what we can’t do)
  • create environment through which people can identify their skills and strengths – use an exercise like Great Escape (ask: if you had to escape from a POW camp, what would you bring to the Escape Committee?)
  • Tim Vogt (Cincinnati) – freeing people from triangles. See “51 people” video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o796ctDGEOQ and also www.inclusion.com

Triangles will always tend to envelop circles… what can circles (communities & families) do that triangles can’t do?

Asset Mapping
Focus on gifts

  • identifies gifts
  • removes negative labels
  • gifts are not gifts until they’re given

Types of gifts

  • gifts of the head: things you know
  • gifts of the hand: practical things you can do
  • gifts of the heart: the things you have a passion for

Positives of asset mapping

  • it’s a guide for relationship-building not just a collection of data
  • helps to find common ground: people meet people where people are at, i.e. in conversations, in twos and threes – NOT online and in meetings (!)
  • it’s a powerful tool in community-building

What are my personal assets?

  • what positive qualities do people say you have?
  • who are the people in your life you give to?
  • how do you give to them?
  • when was the last time you shared with someone else?
  • what do you give that makes you feel good?
  • what are your dreams?

The triangle of institutionalisation tends to ‘colonise’ any asset map, but “an asset map is where we are free – it’s the opposite is fascism”

  • read Poem A Fence or an Ambulance? by Joseph Malins (1895) (see link to left)
  • triangles can’t build community – only circles can
  • triangles can’t create relationships – but can create environments in which relationships can grow

Learning conversations
In groups of two, we asked each other:

  • what would you love to teach a neighbour?
  • what would you love to learn from a neighbour?
  • where are the bumping places in your neighbourhood?
  • what are the social networks in your neighbourhood?

This information was written on four post-it notes by everyone in the room and stuck on four boards. A group of ‘connectors’ then matched the notes across the boards to create an asset map.

Matching Funds
using money to build community in from the cliff edge (as in poem)

  • e.g. Seattle – Jim Diers (see more in third ABCD article): neighbourhood matching fund scheme with massive engagement
  • e.g. John, Holly & Hospital story – a guy called John with special needs who always wanted to work in a hospital; lady called Holly in community group who volunteered in hospital went to CEO to ask for a job for John who was given a job handing out mail; because all the staff loved him, they covered his mistakes; thus 600 staff talked with each other when before these lines of communication did not exist; consequence was a far more efficient and friendly workplace
  • triangles only change as much as they want to, not as much as they need to, and only when they’re challenged!
    • barrier-busting
    • why let reality get in the way when you can create your own reality and let their reality catch up?

Stepping Stones

  • find connectors
  • have conversations
  • what are the common themes
  • bring groups together to plan 10-20 years ahead
  • matching funds – accelerations
  • celebrate achievement and make it fit for purpose

Planning locally

  • what are we actually going to do?
  • individual & collective community action
  • take steps
  • be passionate

More to follow!

Some thoughts…

  • is God speaking to us through some of this?
  • how can we apply these principles to the way we do church?
  • has the church always worked like this?
  • does the church need to become more conscious of these principles for today’s challenges?
  • is this a part of the the Lord’s redemptive processes for the immediate and longterm future of Thurrock and the UK?