Community Building is Inviting Gifts, Care, Connection
...that which cannot be produced, delivered, manufactured, mandated or legislated by any industrial, governmental, or educational "system"
The following notes come from a 3-day training with John McKnight? and Henry Moore in July, 2003. Most of this is from their stories and handouts. A bit of it is stuff that got stuck to their material on its way through my brain.
some articles posted to the ABCD listserve...
(a classic story of demedicalizing health)
(an amazing story -- what happens a hospital actually listens)
Regenerating Community: The Recovery of a Space for Citizens, by John L. McKnight?, Distinguished Public Policy Lecture, Institute for Policy Research (2003)
(hit http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/publications/papers/2003/mcklecture.pdf to download the pdf)
(a nice summary of ABCD)
workshop notes and handouts info
(some lingering issues at bottom)
- Assets-Focused (gifts, dreams, skills, passions)
- Relationship-Centered (stories, connections, people, associations)
- People-Based (inside-out, as opposed to program-based solutions from outside)
- Identify Assets
- Connect Assets
- Invite Contribution
Where to Look for Assets
- People with Gifts and Dreams and Concerns and Skills
- in OpenSpaceTechnology we'd say Passions
- can kill gifts by focusing on needs/deficits, even as being nice, servants, helpers
- community builders see gifts, capabilities, possibilities, opportunities, ignore deficits
- see Questions listed below
- Associations and Congregations (circles, groups)
- care-based, asset-based, people/relationships as solutions
- participation, consensus, stories, relationships, direct responsibility
- citizens, voluntary self-selection
- common purpose (sewing, singing, walking, teaching, etc.)
- real work done by volunteers
- focus on gifts, dreams, concerns, passions, pastimes, dreams, skills, growth
- Institutions - for-profits/non-profits/government (triangles, hierarchies)
- control-based, needs/gaps-driven, programs/services as solutions
- production of goods and 'services'
- consumers, marketing, demand focused
- meetings with predictable ending times
- real work done by paid people
- limited liability (responsibility)
- focus on deficits, needs, gaps,
- generates apathy, dependency, hopelessness, "not my job", "not qualified", gridlock
- Land and Buildings
- owners and users are not always same (vacant lots used as community gardens)
- Local Economy
- aggregate purchasing power
- shade tree mechanics, underground businesses
What to Ask to Find Assets
- getting started in groups (in pairs/threesomes)
- find three non-work-related things you have in common
- appreciative inquiry sorts of questions(?)
- what is it that you like to do that you get lost in for hours?
- what are you good at that very few people know about?
- what is your most significant gift, not learned skill, but real gift(s) you were born with? (what is it that you really want to/have to share with others)
- if ask group, often will have 30-40 different answers before repeating
- this is real diversity, uniqueness surfacing
- can ask people to do this with partners, making partner responsible for finding the other's gift
- everybody has a gift, everybody wants to give it
- what have you seen happen around here that was an improvement, a change for the better?
- how did that get started?
- can you tell me what you can do? ...what kinds of skills do you have? ...what can you make? ...what can you fix?
- (after reading back the whole list) when you think of all these skills, what do you do best?
- what of these do you do well enough to get paid for?
- what would you like to teach?
- tell me about your gifts of the head... things you know something about and would enjoy talking and teaching about, ideas and concepts, birds, art history, movies, solar energy...
- tell me about your gifts of the hands... what do you know how to do and enjoy doing? cooking, carpentry, etc...
- tell me about your gifts of the heart... what kinds of things do you care deeply about? environment, children, etc.
- can be done as survey... asking for 2-5 in each category, with names to post on wall or tape to bodies and mingle.
- identifying SKILLS in surveys and interviews with individuals
- interviews in laundromats and buffet serving lines... to learn enough to build the survey
- survey everyone you can get to and feed back results
- ask individuals which skills they have, then read back the list to them, recite the long list of skills so that they get to hear it
- aggregate results point to what might be convened in OpenSpaceTechnology
Identifying and Connecting Associations
- associations data
- not hard to generate enough associations (unless group/n'hood is very new)
- is possible to generate too many associations... where do we start?
- start with major issues, poll action, willingness, possible willingness, not willing to be involved with each issue
- association interview questions
- Identify - address, tele, contact person
- Meetings - time, date, place, open or by invitation
- Leaders - who are they? formal, informal?
- Stated Mission - the primary reason for meeting, purpose
- What else do you do?
- for others and yourselves?
- for others primarily?
- What might you do in the future?
- Are you interested in working on "X"? (our issue)
- Yes? next steps...
- involve your membership?
- what could you contribute?
- Yes and No?
- what other local associations are you connected to/know about?
Identifying and Connecting Institutions
- organized for consistency, sustainability, reliability
- schools, parks, libraries, gov't, non-profits, agencies, hospitals, private businesses (workplaces)
- strong communities make strong institutions...
- fortress or treasure chest? ways to serve community through local action:
- investment and banking
- youth training
- accountability: local people serving on boards and committees
- staff contributes time, resources, and effort to community
- contributing use of space and equipment
- opening doors (politically)
- institutions as servants
- gappers (self-inventories, mapping, small grants)
- conveners and authorizers
- economic power
Unrecognized Power of Associations
- amplifiers of gifts
- reach large numbers, quickly and easily
- affect attitudes and behaviors
- creative and adaptive
- vision - association of associations
Skills Needed to Connect Assets
- well connected
- believes community is welcoming
- when one person serves another, there is imbalance, dependence
- when two see each other as gifted, skilled, then friendship is result
- jesus' last word... (paraphrased) when the master has told the servants all there is to know, there can only be friendship... as higher form than servant/served duality.
Community Building Model
- focus on ASSETS
- builds from OPPORTUNITIES
- INVESTMENT orientation
- emphasis on ASSOCIATIONS
- focus on COMMUNITY
- goal is EMPOWERMENT (MOVEMENT, ECHO, PEACE, CARE)
- people are CITIZENS (in democracy)
- power comes from RELATIONSHIPS
- PEOPLE are the answers, solutions ...are RESPONSIBLE
Social Services (also Industrial Production) Model
- focus on NEEDS (DEFICITS, GAPS, PROBLEMS)
- responds to PROBLEMS
- CHARITY orientation
- emphasis on AGENCIES
- focus on INDIVIDUAL
- goal is SERVICE
- people are CLIENTS
- power comes from CREDENTIALS
- PROGRAMS are the answer, solution (...are supposed to be RESPONSIBLE)
- Who? Citizen Centered
- Purpose? Relationships not Data
- Collect Information?
- How Use?
Types of Asset Mapping
- individual asset inventories
- gifts, talents, dreams, hopes, concerns, passions, stories
- association mapping
- associations you know
- associations you don't know (heard of)
- what do they currently do?
- what have they talked about doing but not yet done?
- what might they do if they were asked?
- institutional mapping
- gifts of employees and vols
- physical space and equipment
- how money is spent, supplies, services, hiring, etc.
- current relationship with community
- physical space mapping
- what is in the place/hood, parks, schools, libraries, community centers, hospitals, clinics, apartments, single family homes, neighborhood businesses, bike and walking paths, green spaces, vacant lots, artwork...
- what happens where... block club activity, rec/sports, crime, senior activity, youth activity, cleanups, code problems, housing type, etc.
- nhood economy mapping
- how money flows in and out of place
- nhood business development
Community capacity inventories, questions to ask before you start
- what is our goal?
- what specific goals can we name that will help make the gen goal more concrete
- what kinds of questions need to be asked in order to generate the kind of information necessary to meet both the general and specific goals?
- how will we use the info that we collect to accomplish our goals?
- what is the most effective way to collect info that we need, given resources available?
- how many community residents do we want to interview?
- how will our interviewers be educated and trained in teh capacity inventory approach and process?
- what will happen to the info once it has been collected?
- who will be responsible for analyzing and maintaining it?
- how will it be made available (and to whom?) to be used toward meeting goals?
what does it look like when it really works? ...but see questions etc. at top of page
- association of associations, as core, with institutions in contact around the edges
- institutions have voice without a vote
- not a partnership b/w assoc/instits
- no needs surveys... focus on gifts, dreams, skills, assets
- built from indiv, assoc, instits, landowners... ideas and assets
- as detailed as possible
- what can you contribute? ...assocs first, then instits, then outsiders
- do we need money? do we have it here? where can we get it?
lingering issues and questions and conclusions...
- the whole thing starts with gifts. skills, dreams, passions, concerns, cares. individuals. people who care enough to do something.
- when people care and connections are made, associations form. OpenSpaceTechnology seems to catalyze associations. but without an OpenSpaceTechnology-type experience/view do they not have a propensity to institutionalize themselves, if not financially, then at least organizationally? organizing to raise money, giving small monetary awards and incentives, team recognition awards and contests, etc.
- is institution not a naturally occuring phenomenon? something associations naturally evolve into as they accumulate assets, especially funding? noticing that not only are institutions unable to manufacture or deliver care, they are also specifically structured/chartered to NOT take on responsibility/liability. incorporation seems a more fitting line between assocs and instits that does money. incorporation and explicitly codified/solidified hierarchies seem the operational crossing of the line.
- what does the future look like if it all really worked out along these lines? associations springing up and morphing into institutions? institutions dissolving as they are replaced by new groups to meet needs? ...or at least radically restructuring themselves?
- what does ABCD look like when it happens within an institution like city gov't or private business org?
- does it all come back to, come down to gifts? and self-interest? personal responsibility? passion and responsibility of OpenSpaceTechnology?
- in making it work, the association of associations need not exclude instits, need not even have voting... the core of the thing is the purpose "making this place a whole, beautiful, inviting, healthy, prosperous or otherwise great place to live, work and play" ...what can you contribute in the direction of this?
- if you can assemble the questions and the contributions around such a question, the association of associations, the circle of individuals who care, representing indiv, assoc, and instits interests can all be gathered in the same OpenSpaceTechnology circle... no voting required... only learning and contributing. the vision is as detailed as the questions and contributions allow. and it is refined over time, in iterative openspace meetings. workgroups forming and dissolving, some likely forming and solidifying in the direction of assoc and onto instits even. the overall circle stays a circle of circles, literally so in the practice of the meetings in OpenSpaceTechnology.
- in ongoing OpenSpaceTechnology, the association of associations expands to include individuals and institutions as full members, full participants, with no need to write self-limiting visions and force pre-mature voting on options based on partial information because necessarily limited planning horizon... instead just keep extending the inviting of gifts and contributions and learning... and that hardly ever fails... so long as the space stays genuinely open.
- the rules bounding and mandating the association of associations as that and nothing else, might be necessary to maintain the partial opening it represents. it might also be possible to move beyond it now, to the circle of all assets. maybe we know enough as a people to keep the space open. or maybe we need some enlightened institutions that will play inside the circle, helping to bound it, without institutionalizing and controlling it.
- seems the most exciting organizations are emerging as hybrids... community groups like gardens, youth programs, and faith circles connecting with or developing for-profit businesses like urban ag sales, bakeries, grocery stores. what do we call these new orgs that marry the care of individuals, the wholeness/inclusiveness of association, and the bottomline focus of institutions?
- and then, what does ABCD look like in communities without land? or with only virtual land? online communities and communities of practice?