Our processes will not be radically different form other community development techniques. However, we should stress that we are adopting an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).
Asset-based community development, or asset-based community-driven development as it is sometimes called, is a bottom-up way of working with communities that focuses on community strengths and assets rather than on deficits and problems. Consider two communities. One was a ‘community in crisis’; the other was one with strong community relationships and bonds. Of course these two communities were the same community – it all depends on what we decide to focus on.
If we ask people to look for deficits, they will usually find them, and their view of situations will be coloured by this. If we ask people to look for successes, they will usually find them, and their view of situations will be coloured by this (Kral, 1989).
ABCD focuses on the half-full glass. The half-empty glass represents the notion that communities are deficient and have many needs. The half-full glass represents the notion that communities (and the people who live there) have many strengths, capabilities and assets. It is the half-full glass that gives us something to work with.
ABCD is built on four foundations (Kretzmann, 2010; Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003):
- It focuses on community assets and strengths rather than problems and needs
- It identifies and mobilises individual and community assets, skills and passions
- It is community driven – ‘building communities from the inside out’ (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993)
- It is relationship driven.