The Importance of Community

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Originally published on the Greater Vancouver Food Bank website: https://www.foodbank.bc.ca/news/the-importance-of-community/

What is Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)? This was a question that we first came across in March 2014 on meeting the team at Building Caring Communities.  It sparked the beginning of a new community relationship and learning process for us all at the Food Bank.

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Since that point we have seen the Building Caring Communities team use ABCD to have quite an impact across Vancouver; mapping and recognizing community assets, building connected neighbourhoods and generally spreading and sharing positivity into the lives of those they touch. Hearing their individual stories and meeting those impacted by the initiative inspires us to start conversations in our day to day work. It also reminds us that collaboration, recognizing people’s gifts rather than just needs and listening are all key to improving the overall health of the community.

To celebrate our learnings so far, our shared focus on capacity building in the community and to shed further light on the collaborative work being done by Building Caring Communities and its partners, we sat down with our good friends and BCC Community Connectors Katherine Allen & Laura Kosciecha for a quick 101 on ABCD in Vancouver:

Tell us a little about how ABCD approaches community building?

Oftentimes, as service providers, our heart is in the right place and our intention to do good is genuine, but our focus remains on the deficits and needs of the individuals we serve. Through an ABCD lens we can begin to shift our focus to the strengths and assets – the ‘gifts’ – of people and communities. This shift in focus, from the perceived ‘deficits’ of an individual to their strengths, sets the stage for more empowered, meaningful, and reciprocal relationships to flourish.

Who are Building Caring Communities? 

Building Caring Communities (BCC) is an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) initiative that strives to foster meaningful connections in Greater Vancouver. We do this by discovering the gifts and interests of individuals or groups of people (associations). The role of the BCC team is to remain curious all the while searching for welcoming people and places. By spending time in neighborhoods, we are able to build a map of the assets there – the gifts and interests of community members; local businesses, organizations, associations, resources; and people and associations who demonstrate radical hospitality.

Tell us a little more about how your Community Connectors work?

We often meet people who are in search of something; whether it be a friend, a helping hand, a space, or a mentor. Our role is to help thread a web of connections in an already-abundant community. Much of what we seek is already there, but perhaps we just didn’t know it yet, or had to adjust our lens to see it.

The main role of the Community Connector is to find ways for community members to share their unique gifts with others – whether it be a knack for fixing things, or a love of hosting. We do this because we believe that the more connected a community, where people are recognized and appreciated for their contributions, the more vibrant, safe, and welcoming that community is for all of its members.

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