The difference between a hole and a well


At a workshop recently, someone challenged the idea that you can’t build anything useful from the top down, except for a hole, a ditch (trench) or a grave.  ‘What about a well?’ they retorted in good spirits.

We explored it for a while and agreed that a well is fundamentally a hole with potential. However, more importantly, it is dug from the top down so as to remove whatever is burying the water/stifling the wellspring. We also agreed that a well fills from the bottom up (wells up), with the stuff that gives life: water. The absence of dirt makes a hole, the presence of a wellspring properly stewarded makes a well.

A nice metaphor for Asset-Based Community Building, I thought. You can build a hole in the ground but it only becomes a well when it fills from the bottom up.  The hole opens the possibility (facilitation), but the usefulness and the asset is what comes from the bottom up!


Cormac Russell



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  • Zeb Ghumrs

    Wells are foundation of all growth and it’s exactly what even to this day my community strive in supporting back home. However the well we had here continues to be filled with concrete by policies that slowly but surely are forcing such Wells to work. Thus leaving communities more deprived.

    November 13, 2016 at 10:52 pm
  • Thank so for taking the time to comment Zeb. You’re spot on! Where are you based? BW Cormac

    November 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm

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