Last night, I attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Falmouth, ME hosted by the Maine State Ballet. The event had me thinking about asset based community development which is an approach to community-based development, based on the principles of:
(1) Appreciating and mobilizing individual and community talents, skills and assets (rather than focusing on problems and needs) and
(2) Community-driven development rather than development driven by external agencies
It builds on:
- Appreciative inquiry which identifies and analyzes the community's past successes. This strengthens people's confidence in their own capacities and inspires them to take action
- The recognition of social capital and its importance as an asset. This is why ABCD focuses on the power of associations and informal linkages within the community, and the relationships built over time between community associations and external institutions
- Participatory approaches to development, which are based on principles of empowerment and ownership of the development process
- Community economic development models that place priority on collaborative efforts for economic development that makes best use of its own resource base
- Efforts to strengthen civil society. These efforts have focused on how to engage people as citizens (rather than clients) in development, and how to make local governance more effective and responsive.
So, this is a shout out to all membership driven organizations, like the Falmouth Chamber, that want to serve up a new, highly focused and interactive program for it's members in the form of an asset map and great community wide conversation. I also see a graphic facilitator playing in this space.