UNIT 10
Asset-Based Community Building :
Creating Social Capital to Build Neighborhood as Better Places to Live*



OBJECTIVES
1) Understand Asset-Based Community Building
2) Understand how students can become members of their community
3) Understand the importance of social and human capital
TOOLS and MATERIALS
1) Web access for online projects and research
2) Surveys and handouts

ACTIVITIES
1) Group Activity 1: "What Are Your Gifts?"
2) Group Activity 2: "The Community Tree: Where do I Belong?"


SUMMARY of the LESSON

When communities face difficult issues such as poverty and crime, it is easy to talk about them based on their problems and what they lack. However, we can look at communities like a half empty or a half full glass, depending which perspective we decide to take. The goal of asset-based community building is to reverse the perspective of most community development that looks for problems and needs before seeing the advantages and solutions already in place. Before we point out the problems in our communities, we need to look for the resources that already exist there. Many of the resources we need to improve our community life are available in our own backyard. The most important resource in the world is human and social capital: individual skills, experience, and collective energy to make the world a better place. We need to search out our neighbors' assets and find out what each person brings to the community. Every member of our community has a place at the table and each of us brings different gifts to the feast.

*This unit is largely based on John P. Kretzmann & John L. McKnight's "A Guide to Capacity Inventories: Mobilizing the Community Skills of Local Residents" (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 1997).