4 Invisible Assets Waiting to be Discovered

Imagine how different things would be if well intentioned helpers took care, to first discover:

  1. The informal ways communities sustain themselves.
  2. The informal ways that things get done in a community and the stories that reveal the quiet and invisible ways residents make a difference.
  3. How different cultures get along and have come to understand each other.
  4. How people naturally and competently produce care, health, safety, sustainable foods, raise their children, care for their environment, and nurture their local economy.


Then having discovered these four indigenous competencies, helpers proceed to work with local people to further precipitate those ‘discoverables’ by supporting that which was previously disconnected, to become productively connected.

Working this way is clearly more sustainable and respectful of hidden indigenous inventiveness. The downside is that it is slower, not controllable/messier, impossible to scale, and complex to measure. For those interested in promoting more citizen led invention, that’s a combined price worth paying. They will therefore happily put the proscriptions in place to ensure institutions don’t overwhelm, demean or displace those capacities; instead deeply listening and appreciating them.

In stark contrast, for those committed to efficiency, measurability and scalability these competencies are an irrelevance at best; an irritant at worst. For most others who occupy the provider camp, such capacities are fanciful myths: wishful thinking.

For the deliverers and providers of this world, the solution is there to be prescribed, why wait for it to be discovered, when they’ve already figured it out? But, for the discoverers and the searchers the possibilities are their to be revealed, connected and made productive over time at the speed of trust. It’s the difference between ego and eco.

The ego versus eco choice is made every day. It is important therefore, for democratic process and cultural wellbeing that we as residents remind local practitioners of the value of valuing us, and that we remind those who think they know better than us, that that is the surest way to never get to know us better.

Those practitioners who understand the importance of placing discoverables ahead of deliverables have also come to understand the importance of refunctioning our communities, and placing the urgency of community refunctioning ahead of institutional reform. But that’s the subject of next week’s blog.

Cormac Russell


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1 Comment
  • Hi Cormac.. your Ted Ex talk – strong not wrong – is inspirational and I continue to share it with anyone that will listen… I’ve just read your blog and this line… ‘at the speed of trust’ … It Is the most genius line I’ve ever heard.. ! I am a director in a CIC passionate about doing the same thing.. we facilitate exhibitions, and share THINK! Tools. (Www.theheroproject.org.uk) We are keen to share the tools and want to have a proper control / evaluation. Our tools are adapted from GO MaD thinking and they share a simple framework for understanding self and others, personal responsibility and planning etc. We are working with yoing people to develop the tools. Were aiming to create an army of young THINK! Engineers. Just wondered if there is anyone you can direct us to for an initial chat.. or a university that yoi know that might be interested in that type of research. We are in the Midlands UK. Thanks …I’m pretty sure that I met you at an ABCD workshop at Birmingham settlement many moons ago! Thanks Deana

    April 28, 2018 at 9:25 am

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