Asset-based community-driven development (ABCD) is built on four foundations (Kretzmann, 2010; Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003):
- It focuses on community assets and strengths rather than problems and needs
- It identifies and mobilises individual and community assets, skills and passions
- It is community driven – ‘building communities from the inside out’
- It is relationship driven.
As can be seen, ABCD is much more than creating an asset map. In my teaching and work, I am moving away from asset mapping to other ways of identifying and mobilising community strengths and assets.
The above video, featuring Wendy McCaig, is a great example of putting the foundations into practice without relying on an asset map.
Some of the things that stood out for me include: Continue reading
I just updated a post on vertical and horizontal community engagement. The more I think about it the more I like it but have changed from seeing them as different approaches to community engagement to different dimensions of community engagement.
This morning I spoke to some new lecturers at the University of Newcastle about how I try to maintain a balance between supporting students and not letting teaching take up all my time as an academic.
In preparation, I updated a post on Some hints re course coordination for new lecturers. It includes various resources and tips that help make my life a bit easier and have helped me become a better lecturer. While it is specifically about the University of Newcastle most of it is relevant to other universities as well.
All campuses of the University of Newcastle (UoN), Australia, are now smoke free.
I love working in a smoke free environment and don’t miss the days when smoking was much more common. When I was much younger, I had to put up with smoking at meetings, at concerts, on public transport, in restaurants and even in my guitar lessons. Dire warnings of the consequences of banning smoking in restaurants, public places and so on have proven to be unfounded.
At the same time I wonder about the implications for community engagement of the Uni becoming a smoke free campus.
I’m proud of the commitment my University has made to equity of access to higher education. The commitment is backed up by action and UoN has a history of supporting students from a range of backgrounds to succeed at university. We are the largest provider of enabling programs in Australia [which provide alternative pathways to university entry] and 27% of our students come from low socio-economic backgrounds (compared to a sector average of 16%). Continue reading
The relationship between community engagement and community development
Community engagement is at the heart of community development.
In her useful discussion of community development, Jessica Smart (2017) discusses the difference between community-based work “which involves the community”, and community development, “which is led by the community” (para. 5, emphasis added). She suggests that community-based work is characterised by:
- Decision-making power rests with the agency
- The problem or issue is defined by the agency
- There are defined timelines
- Outcomes are pre-specified, often changes in specific behaviours or knowledge levels (Jessica Smart, 2017).
Community development in characterised:
- Power relations between agency and community members are constantly negotiated
- The problem or issue is first named by the community, then defined in a way that advances the shared interests of the community and the agency
- Work is longer term in duration
- The desired outcome is an increase in the community members’ capacities
- The desired long-term outcomes usually include change at the neighbourhood or community level (Jessica Smart, 2017).
You may have noticed that I just published a password protected post. I had hoped that subscribers would not be notified, but you were!
It includes a couple of resources for Alternative to Violence Project facilitators that will not be of wide interest and I’m not quite ready to make the post public. As a subscriber, if you really want to see it you are quite welcome to by using the password Transforming.
From 2018, an undergraduate online elective I teach on community engagement at the University of Newcastle will be one of a growing number of courses (or subjects) the Family Action Centre is offering in family studies at both an undergraduate and a postgraduate level. This means that the course will have a greater emphasis on engaging families as well as communities.
Twelve months ago I restructured the course (HLSC2241 Engaging communities), which I’ve been teaching since 2008, so that it had a greater focus on how community engagement is used in practice.
Prior to last year’s restructure, it had five modules:
- Introduction to community engagement
- Building on community strengths
- Strategies for community engagement
- Case studies of community engagement
- Summing up
The new structure was largely built on three broad areas where community engagement is used:
- Introduction to community engagement
- Community engagement in community development
- Community engagement in service delivery
- Community engagement in planning and decision-making
- Summing up
At first I thought it wouldn’t be too big a change to incorporate engaging families, but the more I think about it, the bigger it seems.
When the focus was mainly on community engagement, the emphasis was largely on how to involve people in community development, service delivery or planning and decision making after the initial engagement. With the increased focus on engaging families, particularly marginalised families, I think we need to explore the initial engagement of families (getting them through the door, or letting service through their door) much more. Continue reading