About ABCD

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a global philosophy and practice related to asset focussed, place based and community driven initiatives.

While practiced intuitively by many community builders for a long period, it was the work of John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann over a 40-year period and their creation of the ABCD Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA in 1995 that gave it its name and prominence. Today, a wide diversity of impressive ABCD initiatives can be found across the world.

ABCD is not a recipe, but a place based framework that incorporates such principles as:

  • Meaningful and lasting community change always originates from within. The wisdom of the community always exceeds the knowledge of the community.
  • Building and nourishing relationships is the fundamental action in community building.
  • Communities have never been built by dwelling on their deficiencies, needs and problems. Communities respond creatively when the focus is on resources, capacities, strengths, aspirations and opportunities.
  • The critical developmental process involves highlighting, mapping, connecting and celebrating the diverse range of community assets; and harnessing these connected assets for action that strengthens caring and inclusive communities.
  • The strength of the community is directly proportional to the level that the diversity of its residents’ desire, and are able to contribute their abilities and assets to the well-being of their community. Every single person has capacities, abilities, gifts and ideas, and living a good life depends on whether those capacities can be used, abilities expressed, gifts given and ideas shared.
  • In every community, something works. Instead of asking “what’s wrong, and how to fix it,” ask “what’s worked and how do we get more of it?” It generates energy and creativity.
  • Community residents must be valued as co-producers and citizens, rather than being viewed as clients, consumers and customers. They act responsibly when they care and support what they create.
  • Creating positive change begins simply with the act of conversation.
  • Having fun must be a high priority in all community-building efforts.
  • The central factor in sustainable change is local leadership and its continuous development and renewal.
  • The starting point for change is always mindset and a positive attitude.

To understand ABCD further, watch Cormac Russell, the Convener of the 1st International ABCD Festival, in Blackpool, UK.