While I am no expert in the science of Asset-Based Community Development,the ideas ring true to me. I like the concept of leading from our strengths, both individually and in community. All of us have gifts, areas where we are strong. Surely within the disability community, we all can bring those gifts to the work at hand. Our purpose includes equal access in our communities, for example. What gifts do community members bring to achieving change in access?

Of course, to recognize strengths or assets in ourselves or others we need to think about them and share our gifts with each other. One tool is to ask people about their gifts, in three difference categories. First, what are your gifts of the hand? What things can you make, do, fix or create with your hands? Secondly, what are the gifts of the head? What do you know about, or what are you interested in learning. Finally, what are the gifts of your heart? What are your passions, cares and concerns?

Apply these to the work at hand. If you are targeting a specific neighborhood for improving access, the people in that neighborhood very likely already know what some of the local assets are. They know what organizations are already present n that neighborhood. They know their strengths, what streets and buildings and services are physically accessible. Neighbors may know the individuals and associations of their community. They know what cultural concerns are present.

In the ABCD model you:

  • Focus on ASSETS
  • Build from OPPORTUNITIES
  • Emphasize ASSOCITATIONS
  • Focus on COMMUNITY with a goal of EMPOWERMENT
  • Remember power comes from RELATIONSHIPS
  • PEOPLE are the answer.

As you plan, ask these questions:

  • As neighbors, what can we achieve by using our own assets?
  • What can we achieve (leverage) with our own assets if we get some outside help?
  • What can’t we do with our assets that must be done by outsiders?

Most goals can be achieve with the community’s own assets.

More about Asset-Based Community Development

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