I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
Last week, as part of my continuing education, I participated in ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) training. As part of my last Partners in Policymaking class, we were reminded that the welcoming community already exists (even if we don’t always see it) and it’s waiting to be activated under the surface of your neighborhood, school, workplace, church and synagogue. You can activate, nurture, reinforce and deepen it, but only if you believe in it. While the contexts of both were related to the disability world, I couldn’t help but think of my community, Cudahy, and how this all relates.
ABCD training started by having us talk about our gifts, what we are good at, what we have to offer our own communities. There is the glass half full or half empty approach. It can be looked at from the half empty perspective as people and communities having deficiencies and needs. Or the half full approach that individuals and communities have skills and talents.
A community is built on the skills of the local residents, the power of local associations and the supportive functions of local institutions. As adapted from the ABCD Institute, “ADCD draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.”
We learned to focus on what is present, not with what is absent. We need to concentrate on agenda building and problem-solving of local residents, associations and institutions. It is relationship driven, builds and rebuilds these relationships between and among residents, associations and institutions.
We need to focus on our assets, build from opportunities, and create empowerment. Power comes from the relationships and the citizens are the answer.
We each have gifts that each one of us can give our community: Gifts of the Hands, Gifts of the Head, Gifts of the Heart and Gifts of Human Connections. What are your Gifts and how do you share them?
We can’t always start with the answers, recruit the people to implement the answer then look for the answers to the problem of “lack of motivation". We need to start with civil conversations, discover what people care about, how they see the conversation and what they have to offer. Finally we need to make the connections and build relationships. Everybody needs to be a part of the conversation, not just a chosen few.
We were given some examples where questions are more powerful than answers. “What is the best thing you experienced in this community?” “If you could get involved in something in your community, what would it be?”
What is your best experience in Cudahy? What one thing would you like to be involved with? What is stopping you?