Asset-based community development (ABCD) starts and ends with the community. It is not a process that is driven or directed by a benevolent corporate big brother that hands out what it thinks people need.

ABCD is about people finding and claiming their own power and using what they already have to build the lives and the communities that work for them.

There are 13 steps in the ABCD process and over the next seven editions of Bubbles we are going to look at them two at a time. These cartoons and descriptions are our interpretations from the ABCD study material compiled by GIBS and the Coady Institute, both leaders in the ABCD methodology.

Where is your focus?
Do you focus on what you have, or on the lack of things you need? For  years, we have been going into communities asking leaders what they need,  and then we feel slightly offended when they present a list of what they feel  entitled to receive. With ABCD, the focus is entirely different. You find out  who the community is, what it’s members community have, and what they  can do with that. When you appreciate the half-full part of the glass, you  empower people with the ability to act, because they have something to act on.

Types of poverty
There are three types of poverty. One is not more important or more damaging than the others. We need to find ways to eradicate all three. ABCD discovers the assets that can be mobilised to do that.

Poverty of the stomach.
Hunger and the need for physical safety and comfort is the one most visible type of poverty – at least from a distance.

Poverty of the mind.
Knowledge and skills allow people to mobilise their assets and take control of their circumstances. Education in all forms is needed to eradicate poverty of the mind.

Poverty of the spirit.
Social capital and emotional connections are often the difference between poor and empowered. Social capital’s ability to act as a catalyst for change has been proven by many research studies. Humanity and our ability to hope, love and have faith are the sparks that some individuals and communities lack.

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