As you listen to Peter you can’t help but realise that community development – and, indeed, other forms of development – is very easy. Simple even. Beware though. ABCD is not a one size fits all approach. It's not like a piece of software you can buy off the shelf.
Peter described a number of examples of ABCD from New Zealand, Australia and the US. Each example was different in content. One was about watching whales, another about a soup kitchen and yet another about how a towns very name (Bulls) can be an advantage. All different in content, but very much the same in basic approach.
Each of the examples began by not asking what do we need, or what haven’t we got? Rather they began their community development by asking what have we got? What are our assets? Starting with that question communities arrive at much different answers. Crucially too, they start tapping into the creativity of individuals and the wisdom of communities.
Peter noted that it can be very easy for people to become “experts in talking themselves down” when community development is approached from a top-down, needs-driven approach. What is needed is a simpler approach.
Peter is wont to use a lot of quotations in his presentation and these can be inspiring. To show this simpler approach he shares one from Ernesto Sirolli (author of Ripples on the Zambezi1):
“The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, imagination and resources of its people.”Simple and easy – isn’t it? Yes, it is. Peter warns, though, that we have to make a conscious choice about how we think of individuals and communities. That may be the hardest part of ABCD; overcoming our present notions of what development is and who drives it.
Peter ends his presentation with five principles of ABCD:
- Appreciative Mindset Focus (What assets do we have?)
- Community driven
- Community asset riches
- Giftness of all
- Relationship focused.
Ma tou rourou, ma toku rourou, ka ora te iwi.”1. Sirolli was disenchanted with foreign aid projects in Africa which ignored local knowledge. The book explores an alternative model whereby people recognise their talents and business passions and then acquiring the skills to transform their dreams into reality.
“With your basket (gifts) and my basket (gifts), the community will thrive.”