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Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is an approach to sustainable community-driven development. ABCD offers a radical shift of perspective: to move away from a one-directional giver-receiver pattern to facilitating the space for citizens to join together and co-create what matters to them as communities.

The origins of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) start with the work of Professor John McKnight, Professor Jody Kretzmann and eighteen of their associates in the late 1980s. Using only open and participatory processes, John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann gathered 3,000 stories in response to questions such as, “can you tell us a story about a time when you and your neighbours came together to make things better around here?” The stories they gathered had some mix of the six key community building blocks in common. While not every story possessed all six, across the 3,000 stories gathered, these are the most recurrent strengths:

  • The skills of residents
  • The power of local associations
  • The resources of public, private and non-profit institutions
  • The physical resources and ecology of local places
  • The economic resources of local places
  • The stories and heritage of local places

These building blocks, which were eventually categorized as “community assets,” reflected the residents’ real-world’ accounts of their experiences in nurturing their health and well-being, protecting the environment and the local economy, raising happy children, ageing actively and comfortably at home, responding to natural or man-made disasters, as well as being good stewards of local ecology and deepening democracy, achieving social justice and nurturing local wisdom.