The Asset Based approach looks at things through a different lens: it tries to understand where the opportunities are, and what strengths can be built on.
Of course there are problems and a lot of needs to be addressed in Communities throughout Manchester and the Foundation’s money and resources are needed to do that. But there are also a lot of talented local people who as well as having problems have talents, resources and passion. As thing currently stand most of our attention is on the problems and little on the untapped capacities and resources in local communities. ABCD doesn’t ignore the fact that there are needs, it simply argues that there are assets as well, and if we’re serious about development we should give them attention.
Too often the communities have received funding the terms of the funder, this is a transactional relationship, and is not respectful or reflective of the untapped potential that is to be found within every community. The fact is a community has more assets than anyone person or organisation can know. Nobody is talentless, everybody has something to contribute to developing a vibrant connected community. In the same way in spite of labels like disadvantage, marginalised etc, low income communities have hidden treasures waiting to be tapped.
Lets look more closely at this. Starting with needs. Sometimes when people present ABCD they present it as a polemic between needs and assets. To me that somewhat of a superficial interpretation. ABCD is not suggesting that we ignore needs in preference for assets, but that we take care as to how we understand needs. Most psychologists now agree that there are four fundamental needs. See slide… So ABCD begs the question how do we as helpers address for example security needs in a way that does not harm autonomy, competency and belonging. Can you think of any examples from your own life experience when someone in an honest effort to help inadvertently undermined the need for autonomy, competence or belonging of the person or community they were endeavouring to assist?
One that recognises that ‘we can never know what a community needs, until they know for themselves what they have’. We as a Foundation can start a new more empowering trend in how we use our assets to support communities to build real power for change, leaving behind us a legacy of competent, capable citizens working together in a way that includes everyone; instead of clients who depend solely on services and programmes. In this way the vision of Forever Manchester can come alive in every neighbourhood, home and organisation in the city. Imagine a Manchester where we all identify, connect and mobilse our assets towards a shared vision…..Forever Manchester..
But this kind of change has to go with the grain of life and has to happen where people live their lives: in neighbourhoods.
By doing this we change the old way of working which put us in the driving seat of the transaction.
To a process of grass roots grant making and community building that puts citizens in the led. Of course we want to do this in a way that does not simply give gate keepers more power, and this is why Asset Based Community Development as a process matters so much: it shows us a clear way that everyone can be included and everyone’s voice can be heard.
For policy makers as well as traditional community leaders the new starting point in my humble option is at the fire side, the one on one conversations, and the neighbourhood organising, that’s where Britain will begin to coproduce and re-weave its wellbeing and future in terms of its economic prosperity, it environmental sustainable and the welfare of all its citizen in real partnership with Government, the Third Sector and the Corporate Sector, that to my mind is the path from so-called Broken Britain to a truly Caring Society. But they cannot hope to reap that harvest until they plough the soil, and I think that’s where people like us come in. Thank you!
A life of my own choosing,
A life of my own choosing Ageing Well through the lens of Asset Based Community Development Cormac Russell, ABCD Institute
About the ABCD Institute <ul><li>Est. 1995, </li></ul><ul><li>Northwestern </li></ul><ul><li>University, Illinois </li></ul><ul><li>Presence on every continent throughout the world. </li></ul>
Tell us a story….. <ul><li>‘ Can you tell us a story about a time when </li></ul><ul><li>you and your neighbours came together to </li></ul><ul><li>make things better?’ </li></ul>
people focused their attention on…. <ul><li>What can be done instead of what can’t be done </li></ul>What might be possible if rather than problems more than weaknesses
<ul><li>In the real world there are both strengths and needs </li></ul>So where is most practice focused? Where is most policy focused?
Transition from village communities to the money economy
The Dilemma . . . Children and Families have deficiencies & needs Children and Families also have skills and talents On which should we focus most?
Fundamental Needs Security Autonomy Belonging Competence ? Emotional & Material Agency. Independence. Sense of efficacy in the world. Plus authenticity Community, Family & Friends, as giver & receiver Ability to sustain tasks of choosing, to contribute. Security Belonging Competence Autonomy Russell, C (2010)