This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.


It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.


It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Coming Back to Learn about ABCD

Ok, I am confessing to a perhaps obvious truth, I am a bad blogger. First, it has been about ninety days since my last post and some time before that one, not blogging bad. The usual excuse, working in other areas and easier to stay with the more introspective capable Kumu than switching with Blogger media. Focus has been on updating past done systems thinking oriented Kumu maps, mainly on participatory and deliberative democracy, and means of collaboration. Other perhaps less obvious reasons for being a bad blogger are good bloggers are said to write what audience is interested in, write what they (bloggers) know, and write short pieces. I don’t do any of that. So, don’t have thousands of followers but okay with that. This is a means of interacting with new ideas of interest. Most things written about have been about things that were at first of little knowledge, including Systems Thinking, but one learns over time by engaging.

So showing up again to write about something of increasing interest but currently of little knowledge, Asset Based Community Development or ABCD. Why now though? It has been on the mental back burner for some time, actually a year, since writing on Collective Impact and Kumu Relational Mapping - Creating New Ways of Seeing Our Community, which showed up today as  a Facebook memory, and again in Using Systems Thinking to Explore Amplifying the Voices of Community Members in which ABCD was first mentioned in a Kumu map, as well as again in Living Cities Collective Impact • Modules 1 to 2 Bridge / Collective Impact - Living Cities online course • Kumu

Still have more questions and concerns than knowledge on Collective Impact but he focus went elsewhere. More recently though have been following @CormacRussell on Twitter, a faculty member of the ABCD Institute, and Managing Director of Nurture Development offering an interesting contrast to fellow ABCD Institute faculty member, Dan Duncan, who was featured in the Living Cities’ approach to Collective Impact, an arguably Grasstops down perspective. So the original question was how does ABCD relate to Collective Impact? Or perhaps better, does ABCD relate to Collective Impact the way I am being told that it does?

The Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach has some useful tools to determine what assets exist in a community, and how they can be leveraged. In short, the ABCD approach seeks to discover the skills and passion of local community members, ask them to share those gifts, and then connect with others to create meaningful solutions, according to an article by Living Cities. "Amplifying the Voice of Community in Collective Impact" which cites an article by H. Daniels Duncan, “Effective Collective Impact: Through the Power of ABCD and RBA

True resident engagement requires institutions, funders, local governments and nonprofits to lead by stepping back to create space for residents to be involved as producers. To accomplish this it is imperative to ask five strategic questions to drive institutional actions: 

  1. What are the things that only residents can do? 
  2. What are the things that residents and institutions or government can accomplish together?
  3. What are the things that only institutions or government can do? 
  4. What can we stop doing to create space for resident action? And, 
  5. What can we offer to the community beyond the services we deliver to support resident action?

RBA {Results Based Accountability(tm)} questions to drive action and results.
1. What are the quality-of-life conditions (population results) we want for the children, adults, and families who live in our community?
2. What would these conditions look like if we could see them?
3. How can we measure these conditions?
4. How are we doing on the most important of these measures?
5. Who are the partners that have a role to play in doing better?
6. What works to do better, including no-cost and low-cost ideas?
7. What do we propose to do?

ABCD provides an effective framework to answer the RBA questions 5, 6, and 7 and provides the structure to work collectively with the community...


1. Community engagement and co-production
2. Relationships and trust
3. Results and accountability; and
4. A clear, common purpose.
So I have finally gotten something written on ABCD and Collective Impact but the sense I get, with my limited familiarity, is that Cormac’s and Nurture Development’s approach is somewhat different. 


Not judging here, though biases may peek through. Still far more that I don’t know than I do know about ABCD. Don’t know to what extent my own, systems thinking oriented approach is in truth in line with Cormac’s and ABCD. I have discussed briefly with Cormac, the complexity of citizen interaction with civic professionals and building community efficacy on Twitter (mostly everything on Twitter is brief). 

Latest twitter discussion has raised complex questions of art and community empowerment and ABCD. Still not sure though what ABCD has to do with it. Cormac hasn’t had any input yet but I originated the discussion in his Twitter account. I included @ArtsFwd in the conversation as I knew that they have background in this area having been featured in the past with Art as a Path of Social Disruptive Innovation Towards New Community Paradigms, and New Community Paradigms Require a Creative Community not just a Creative Economy

So a number of new and interesting ideas to follow up on to learn more about Collective Impact and now more about Asset Based Community Development (along with new wiki-page), both independently and how they could be related. 

I will leave off with another numbered list from another organization held in high esteem, and learned about through the Living Cities Collective Impact course, Tamarack, an Institute for Community Engagement. The folks at Tamarack came up with 5 Big Ideas from their 2014 CI Summit in Toronto which while not explicitly has, from my limited insight, a more ABCD feel to it in perhaps finding a balance.

Collective Impact 3.0:

Big Idea #1: "Collective Impact" Does Not Need to be Applied to Every Collaboration

Big Idea #2: "Context Experts" and "Content Experts," a 50/50 Proposition

Context Experts are residents with lived experience, including children and youth. Typically, they are the people who experientially know about the issue. Content Experts are professionals, providers, and leaders with formal power who have knowledge, tools, and resources to address the issue. Typically, they are the people with the technical knowhow.

Big Idea #3: Ownership and Buy In are Not the Same Thing

Big Idea #4: Best Practices are the Enemy of Emergence

Big Idea #5: Change Happens at the Speed of Trust


People can tell me if I am getting any of this wrong, a matter as someone as told me of trial and learning. I will be following up, though to be honest, I will be going back to a more close knit inquiry,  using Kumu, into effective virtual collaboration with Systems Thinking and other ongoing concerns. With any luck, I will have something to blog about that in the not too distant future, well hopefully at least before another ninety days.

Past Posts