It Takes Courage
To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left largely untried. That is true at least in the professional fields of endeavour. In citizen space, it seems that organic asset-based community efforts spring up regularly, untitled and largely unrecognized. This wellspring of mass localism was plain to see (for anyone paying attention) from late March to June 2020. COVID-19 precipitated a boon in mutual aid and citizen-led action. We now need to find a positive alternative to COVID-19, which is as effective a precipitant but without the harm.
The primary challenge for 2021 is to precipitate more antifragile communities. This will not require technical know-how, it will require courage. The courage is not so much to try new things, as to stop certain old patterns.
Old patterns to stop include the ever-recurring impulse to adopt a command and control responses in a crisis. We might add to this the slavish commitment to certain assumptions, such as:
- the institutional assumption: more services equal better outcomes for more people.
- the passive/active assumption: communities are passive recipients of outside actions
- the outside in assumption: change happens when outside actors come in to do it to, for or with communities.
It looks like 2021 will again remind us of the limits of such patterns and assumptions.
All that in mind, I wish you a very Courageous New Year!