The ABCD Approach: Some Resources

While John and I were in Kojonup recently, I talked about the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to creating inclusive, bottom up, community-driven change. The ABCD approach was first developed by John McKnight and John (Jody) Kretzmann, along with their associates in the USA. They set up the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. In this blog post, I provide links to a number of resources which should be useful for members of the Kojonup community, and others adopting or planning to adopt an ABCD approach to community development.

Firstly, here are three of my earlier blog posts on ABCD which have appeared on this website:

Community Building: ‘Mental health is not a product of pharmacology or a service that can be singularly provided by an institution: it is a condition that is more determined by our community assets than our medication or access to professional interventions more generally. There are functions that only people living in families and communities can perform to promote mental health and wellbeing…’ Cormac Russell, Nurture Development

Sustainable Community Development: From What’s Wrong to What’s Strong – Cormac Russell: ABCD focuses on a community’s assets, capacities and abilities. Historical evidence indicates that significant community development takes places only when local community people are committed to investing in themselves and their resources. Communities are built bottom-up, not top-down.

Community Capacities & Community Necessities: ‘We are striving to live in a democracy. A democracy is a politics that gives us the freedom to create our vision and the power to make that vision come true. We strive to be citizens: people with the vision and the power to create our own way, a culture of community capacity, connection and care.’

The latter post contains an article about ABCD originally written for the Abundant Community website in 2010. This website is a very useful resource, as is the book The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods by John McKnight and Peter Block.

Additional blog posts since this one was posted:

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), Part 1: The ABCD approach has a set of principles and practices that act like a compass in community-building work. These principles and practices fall into five categories: Citizen-led; Asset-based; Relationship-oriented; Place-based, and Inclusion-focused

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), Part 2: In his recent Kindle book Asset-Based Community Development: An Incomplete Guide, Cormac Russell describes eight touchstones of ABCD. He points out that whilst all eight Touchstones rarely appear together and do not represent a step-by-step guide to community building, they do show up regularly in ABCD community practice around the world.

Another great resource for those working with the ABCD approach is the Nurture Development website, first set up by Cormac Russell from Ireland. The website provides access to ABCD resources, reports, blogs of interest, and information on research & evaluation, consultancy services and learning development. There is an introductory one minute video from Cormac Russell, which is well worth a watch. You can download a variety of Cormac’s publications on ABCD on his personal page.

I first met Cormac here in Perth some years ago and we have remained in touch since then. I love his passion and I am impressed by his knowledge and productivity.

Cormac has published a very useful guide on ABCD, entitled Asset-Based Community Development: An Incomplete Guide which you can purchase as a Kindle book (read on phones, computers and other devices) for the grand sum of A$1.37. I can strongly recommend this book. I’ll be referring to it in future blogs.

I found Cormac’s book Rekindling Democracy, A Professional’s Guide To Working In Citizen Space to be very useful as I reflected on what I might be able to do to help Kojonup develop the ABCD approach. The book ‘offers a practical yet well-researched guide for practitioners seeking to hone the way they show up in citizen space.’

Finally, here is an excellent TEDx Exeter talk by Cormac Russell. In this talk, Cormac says:

‘… despite the fact that thousands and thousands of pieces of evidence call us to the idea that we should start with the capacities and the abilities in people and in communities, we see this great preponderance in governmental and non-governmental programs alike around the focus and the obsession with the starting on what is wrong, what is broken, what is pathological in people.

Sadly, that focus has caused huge harm to millions of people around the world, especially poor people and especially communities. And it has created four harms, unintended as they may be…’


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