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These are some of the notes from John McKnight’s presentation; For more writings and resources, go to http://www.abcdinstitute.org. The handout for today was Community Building in Logan Square, a free resource under their downloadable resources.
Origin of the word hospitality is hostile but it evolved to mean stranger and then to welcome the stranger.
Hospitality is critical at the edge of every community for the sake of stronger and more inclusive communities.
In their initial research, they began to ask what have people done to make things better in their community. They came with 3000 stories. From them, they found five key resources that people had used, which their team then called “assets.” One of the tools from the Institiute is an asset mapping tool.
1. People, and their gifts. Symbol…stick figures of people
2. Voluntary associations of all kinds, most without paid staff. In the stories of how things got better, more than half of them were started in community associations. Associations are networks where people gather by consent, eg, clubs, civic groups, cokngregations, hobby groups, advocacy groups, support groups, etc. Associations magnify and amplify the gifts of individuals. symbol….triangle
3. Groups and organizations where people are paid. Businesses, nonprofits, government. The symbol was an organizational chart. A few people can then control a lot of people. The glue is money. Associations are held together by care. Institutions do not care. Medicare does not care. People in organizations and institutions may care deeply as individuals, but the institution itself is not the caring force.
4. Lands and assets and how they are used.
5. Exchanges, where things, goods and services are shared, traded, bartered, bought, and sold.
Good community builders”broke the lines.” Three key things in improvements.
1. A combination in different forms of the assets above.
2. Assets connected, created connections.
3. Connectors. Vital. May or may not be the leader. Skill: host, hostess, bring people together.
Question from audience about role of technology. John noted that in research like Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone”, associational life began to decline in 1969, when first wave of baby boomers who had watched TV reached adulthood.. Technology can precipitate real life, face to face relationships, which are key for community building.
Care is freely givencommitment for another, not managed or provided. Managers cannot make care happen.
In efforts in Logan Square related to disability, inclusion happened by someone being welcomed or adopted by an existing association or organization. It wass something new. Civically centered. Find people in an association who can lead people on the fringe back in.
Training staff in an agency to do this does not ultimately work. The key people involved are the connectors..
Four traits of connectors:
1. Gift centered, not deficit focused. See the potential in everyone. (glass half full)
2. Well connected.
4. Believe their community is welcoming.
The best connecting organizations are associations. John showed an example of the Prince George, Canada, community associatin guidebook. Thousands of them in one community. Associations come together around something they care about. Example, the Anti Gravity Association. (jugglers) You don’t have to be a juggler to belong, but would you like to…? That.s where you go.
The issue with human service organizations is that they label people and then everyone has to spend enormous effort getting away from the label as the key identity, rather than gifts and interests.
Major resource from ABCD: Building Communities from the Inside Out.
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