New Albany Renewal

New Albany Renewal is intended to serve as a repository for ideas relevant to preserving and restoring historic buildings, cleaning up neighboorhoods, revitalizing downtown, and improving the quality of life in New Albany, Indiana.

Location: New Albany, Indiana

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Developing Assets

Principles of Assest-Based Community Development (ABCD)

1. Everyone has gifts--With rare exceptions people can contribute and want to contribute. There is unrecognized capacity and assets in every community.

2. Relationships Build a Community--An intentional effort to build and nourish relationships is the core of ABCD and of all community building.

3. Citizens at the Center--People in leadership in everyday life (associations, congregations, neighborhoods, and local business) must be at the center of community initiatives rather than just helping agency leaders.

4. Leaders Involve Others as Active Members of the Community--Leaders from the wider community of voluntary associations, congregations, neighborhoods, local business, can engage others from their sector. Strong community leaders invite a growing circle of people to act.

5. People Care About Something--Agencies and neighborhood groups often complain about apathy. Apathy is a sign of bad listening. People in communities are motivated to act. The challenge is to discover their motivation to act.

6. Motivation to Act--People will act on certain themes strongly felt; concerns to address, dreams to realize, and personal talents to contribute. Every community is filled with invisible "motivation for action".

7. Listening Conversation--In one-on-one dialogue or in small group conversations is how to discover motivation and invite partcipation.

8. Ask, Ask, Ask--Once a person's possible 'gifts to give' and 'motivations to act' are recognized; an opportunity to act must be offered. Asking and inviting are key community building actions.

9. Asking Questions Rather Than Giving Answers Invities Stronger Participation--People in communitities are usually asked to follow outside expert's answers for their community problems. A more powerful way to engage people is to invite communities to address "questions" finding their own answer--with agencies following to help.

10. A Citizen-Centered "Inside-Out" Organization is the Key to Community Engagement--community engagement initiatives rarely succeed without residents as leaders organized to do intentional relationship building. It takes an organization of citizens to organize a community.

11. Institutions Have Reached Their Limits in Problem-Solving--All institutions such as government, non-profits, and businesses are stretched thin in their ability to solve community problems. they can not be successful without engaging the rest of the community in solutions.

12. Institutions as Servants--People better than programs engage the wider community. Institutions of government, non-profits, and business can be of invaluable help supporting the work of citizens' to engage their fellow community members.

Asset-based community development is a process of identifying, mobilizing, and connecting assets. The focus is on developing what you have rather than focusing on what you do not have or cannot get.

The greatest assest of any community are its people. The talents, experience, skills, and passion of individuals represent a huge and often untapped resource. Identifying the potential gifts of individuals along with other community assets such as associations, congregations, non-profits, government, businesses, local economy, and the physical world is the first crucial step toward developing those assets.

More information:

A Different Perspective

Asset-based is a term that is being thrown around a lot lately. You've heard it, but what does it mean? When I received an invitation to a workshop on asset-based community development I thought I might get more out of the experience if I did a little background work before hand.

While doing my homework I discovered Change the Way You See Everything? by Kathyryn D. Cramer and Hank Wasiak a 45 minute read which introduced me to the concept of asset-based thinking.

Asset-based thinking is a more sophisticated version of positive thinking and counting your blessings. The central idea is that most of us focus on our weaknesses and problems and that focusing on your assets or opportunities instead can help build energy, relationships, and productivity.

Sure, new self-improvement and business fads are a dime-a-dozen and I will be the first to admit that most of them are pretty lame but asset-based thinking really makes a lot of sense to me.

It's a simple concept that is easy to understand and, I hope, easy to practice.

Put most of your time and energy in what you do well rather than focusing on changing what you don't do well. "Magnify what's best and focus on what's next." Asset-based thinking uses the 80-20 rule in reverse. Instead of devoting 80% of your time and attention to solving problems, turn it around and focus 80% on opportunities.

"To most of us, facing a problem usually provokes us to cast blame and assign guilt. But what if you could reach into the depth of that problem and extract a treasure--a wealth of information that could propel the situation forward in a way that benefits everyone involved, exponentially! this moves you into the affirmative zone in which Asset-Based Thinkers thrive."

There is an introduction at