What do we already have to work with?
Mapping or taking inventory of the stories, talents, skills, knowledge within a community is the first step in taking action. How does a community know what can be done without knowing what they have to work with? Individuals, community-based organizations, associations, and local businesses and institutions have a wealth of resources and interests. The process of highlighting these assets results in conversation, connections and can help build energy and momentum for coming together and acting. There are many resources that can be helpful to guide this process within a school or extended community learning environment.
What talents of the hands (skills), head (knowledge) and heart (passion) are inherent in the community?
Uncovering the talents of parents, school or extended community members can highlight the wealth of available assets and resources available to draw on. it is our experience that groups are always surprised when they learn they may have been unaware of the diverse talents of those around them. When small groups do this exercise they are inspired by the potential number of assets when this is extrapolated to the wider community.
The ABCD Institute has a number of mapping tools available in their toolkit for download. The capacity inventory, provides a form/script for identifying talents of individuals within a community, along with accompanying guide. (from J. Kretzmann, J. McKnight’s “Building communities from the inside out: A path towards finding and mobilizing community assets” (2003).
School Community Assets
Family, School, and Community Who are the people and organizations that support your child’s learning? Who else could provide support? (think about your own learning experience).
This simple asset map captures the assets and strengths according to family, school and broader community. Joyce Epstein et al at the Centre for School, Family and Community partnerships has consolidated research showing the benefits for the learner when these spheres are overlapped. more on this… This easy to use tool can be adapted electronically to link the local resources with web presences for the benefit of parents and extended community.
Who are the community-based organizations, associations, and other institutions that have been identified as part of the extended community? Developing a working relationship with groups can begin with a conversation to better appreciate what their work is, what resources or assets they may have within their organization, and to gain a sense of the ways in which they may feel they can contribute to the school community. The ABCD Institute and it’s ABCD in Action offer a number of tools for supporting this information gathering process such as Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization’s Capacity by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, with Sarah Dobrowolski and Deborah Puntenney (2005).
Extended Community Assets
Five key types of assets inherent in each community are identified in this Asset Pentagon – an adaptation of the Sustainable Livelihood Framework (Dept. for International Development, UK). This diagram can be used as a tool to brainstorm the assets according to each area, including both individuals, associations and institutions. Key to engaging all available assets is the social assets, or the opportunities for people to come together, ie. family dinners, meetings, websites, Facebook, newsletters, social gatherings. For more on the sustainable livelihoods framework in this short article by the Tamarack Institute…
Further reading and resources: Asset Mapping
The Community Toolbox has a consolidation of information and resources related to community mapping.
The Asset Mapping Handbook (T. Fuller, D. Guy, C. Pietsch, 2002), resource built on Canadian National Rural Conference focusing on asset-mapping from a rural Canadian standpoint.
The ABCD Institute has a number of tools and publications available to help with asset mapping such as:
- Workbook: “Mapping Community Assets Workbook – Strengthening Community Education: The Basis for Sustainable Renewal” by Diane Dorfman – a 15-page workbook for understanding and mapping community assets. Contributed by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
- Instructional: “Asset Mapping: Eight Steps to Increase and Support Residential Engagement”
- Contributed by ABCD faculty member Dan Duncan
- Instructional Exercises: Gift Discovery (short version) Gift Discovery (long version) Contributed by ABCD faculty member Dan Duncan
The Search Institute of Minneapolis has consolidated research highlighting a framework of developmental assets, the skills, relationships experience and behaviours known to support learning and healthy development throughout early years up to adolescence. Thrive! is Search Institute’s Canadian partner for advancing the Developmental Assets in Canada. Lions Quest Canada: The Canadian Centre for Positive Youth Development is dedicated to providing opportunities for caring individuals to gather and learn from and with each other.