Excerpt from the ABCD Institute
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a strategy for sustainable community driven development. Beyond the mobilization of a particular community, ABCD is concerned with how to link micro-assets to the macro-environment. The appeal of ABCD lies in its premise that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilizing existing, but often unrecognized assets, and thereby responding to and creating local economic opportunity.
ABCD builds on the assets that are already found in the community and mobilizes individuals, associations, and institutions to come together to build on their assets– not concentrate on their needs. An extensive period of time is spent in identifying the assets of individuals, associations, and then institutions before they are mobilized to work together to build on the identified assets of all involved. Then the identified assets from an individual are matched with people or groups who have an interest or need in that asset. The key is to begin to use what is already in the community.
In the past when a person had a need they went to their neighborhood for assistance. But this has shifted today to the belief that the neighbor does not have the skills to help them, therefore we must go to a professional for assistance.
The Welfare system today works in such a way that professionals have made clients and recipients of the poor, robbing them of the support from their neighbors who now think that they are not skilled enough to help. This leads to isolation of the individuals. The poor begin to see themselves as people with special needs that can only be met by outsiders, but this can be changed through the ABCD process.
A second power of ABCD is found in the local associations who should drive the community development process and leverage additional support and entitlements. These associations are the vehicles through which all a community’s assets can be identified and then connected to another in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness. Users of the ABCD approach are deliberate in their intentions to lead by stepping back. Existing associations and networks (whether formal or informal) are assumed to be the source of constructive energy in the community. Community-driven development is done rather than development driven by external agencies.
ABCD draws out strengths and successes in a community’s shared history as its starting point for change. Among all the assets that exist in the community, ABCD pays particular attention to the assets inherent in social relationships, as evident in formal and informal associations and networks.
ABCD’s community-driven approach is in keeping with the principles and practice of participatory approaches development, where active participation and empowerment (and the prevention of disempowerment) are the basis of practice. It is a strategy directed towards sustainable, economic development that is community-driven.
Guiding Principles for ABCD
Most communities address social and economic problems with only a small amount of their total capacity. Much of the community capacity is not used and is needed! This is the challenge and opportunity of community engagement. Everyone in a community has something to offer. There is no one we don’t need.
For more information visit the institutes website