Module 4 - Asset Based Community Engagement

Value of an Asset Based Approach

Asset based community engagement is valuable because it has a positive effect on communities in so many ways. For example,

  • As communities identify and mobilize their own assets, they become increasingly confident that they have something of value to contribute to community work. This encourages a sense of community pride to develop and grow.

  • Asset based community engagement encourages participation from the community very broadly, and in some cases, extends invitations to community members who are often not included in community projects.

  • Because many people from the community contribute to asset based community engagement, leadership and collaboration skills are strengthened. These skills continue to grow in the community and, in some cases, lead to new projects.

  • Asset based community engagement takes the wishes and resources of the local people into consideration (instead of relying completely on models that are broadly generalizable and promoted by experts, but may not be completely applicable in this particular community).

Community members recognize their strengths, start to take pride in their community, and learn to work together more effectively, their communities grow in ways that promote long term and sustainable change.

"So Many Lessons Learned"

The nature trail was established within the year. By fall, school classes and clubs had plans to use the nature trail for learning activities. On the weekends, some parents were already regularly using the trail as a source of free, family fun in the community.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mrs. Poole and Derrick stopped to think about the whirlwind of activities and reflect on how the nature trail came into existence.

Derrick was amazed by the community's response for help with a nature trail. So many individuals and organizations found a way to make a contribution—and they made it in their own special way. The shop teacher, for example, had students build bird boxes for the trail as one of their projects. Derrick would have never thought about that. But using an asset approach—where you invite people to brainstorm who has skills, knowledge, and resources to contribute—all sorts of people felt invited to come forward and pitch in. Derrick's biggest lessons learned were 1) never underestimate who can contribute and 2) make sure you invite as many people as you can to help out.

Mrs. Poole was also pleased that the broad appeal to the community for help worked so well. She learned something valuable about leadership, especially about how framing an issue can make all the difference in the world.


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