Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action, and then determining and taking appropriate action. This method uses the community’s own assets and resources as the basis for development; it empowers the people of the community by encouraging them to utilize what they already possess.
The ABCD approach was developed by John L. McKnight and John P. Kretzmann at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. They co-authored a book in 1993, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing A Community’s Assets, which outlined their asset-based approach to community development.
Needs-based community development emphasizes local deficits and looks to outside agencies for resources. In contrast, asset-based community development focuses on honing and leveraging existing strengths within the community. Related to tenets of empowerment, it postulates that solutions to community problems already exist within a community’s assets. Principles that guide ABCD include:
- Everyone has gifts: Each person in a community has something to contribute.
- Relationships build a community: People must be connected in order for sustainable community development to take place.
- Citizens at the center: Citizens should be viewed as actors—not recipients—in development.
- Leaders involve others: Community development is strongest when it involves a broad base of community action.
- People care: Challenge notions of “apathy” by listening to people’s interests.
- Listen: Decisions should come from conversations where people are heard.
- Ask: Asking for ideas is more sustainable than giving solutions.
- Inside-out organization: Local community members are in control.
- Institutions serve the community: Institutional leaders should create opportunities for community-member involvement, then “step back
We envisage this site being used to help identify , record and mobilise the gifts of Luton’s communities.