Benefits of Asset Based Community Engagement
By choosing to frame your community work using an asset based approach, you will:
- Identify, affirm, and call upon the gifts, resources, skills, and knowledge that already
exist in the community.
- Contribute to a community's sense of pride and empowerment.
- Call for broad participation from community members, inviting people to contribute
their talents, resources, and skills.
- Recognize that power, privilege, and influence are related to relationships and connections
(not just credentials or technical expertise).
- Focus on leadership and collaboration, including forming partnerships to achieve specific
- Shift the locale of power and control for community work from the outside expert to
a blended situation where the outside expert and the community resident both have
ideas to contribute.
- Help people realize their own potential beyond the contributions of outside developers.
- Find ways to sustain long term community change by building capacity and strengthening individuals and communities.
"Look How Involved Everyone Is!"
It did not take very long for the principal to get back to Mrs. Poole and Derrick. He liked the idea now, particularly if there is a way to develop the nature trail without much expense to the school.
Mrs. Poole and Derrick were very busy spring semester. The after school club started up again, so they were responsible for learning activities. Derrick talked with some of his classmates in environmental education classes on campus and got them involved with the club.
He then worked very closely with Mrs. Poole and a leadership team to start a planning process for the nature trail. They held meetings, wrote newsletter articles, and posted updates on Facebook, to reach out to as many people and groups as possible.
They asked for ideas and involvement from as many people as possible. While they were very busy coordinating ideas and information, good things started to happen. Unlikely people stepped forward to assist with the nature trail. For example, one student's dad worked for the town's public works department and got permission to donate the wood chips from the spring tree trimming to the school to put along the nature trail path. This was a huge surprise and a really important donation because the entire trail needed to be covered in wood chips.
Think about a community project you are familiar with. Consider how many people or
organizations contributed to making it a success. Were there just a few? Were there
many? Then, think about how long the community project continued. Did it have a long
life of its own? Or did it fizzle out after the initial leaders moved on to other
things? What do you think the relationship between broad participation/ownership and
long-term sustainability might be?
The bullet points listed above highlight the key areas of an asset based approach. By building a community project based on these areas, you are more likely to have broad participation and long-term sustainability.