Do you know all of the resources that your community has to make it stronger? Every community contains resources that can be harnessed to make it a more sustainable, vibrant place to live. But many of these resources are undiscovered and untapped.
While most communities have leaders and associations that meet on a regular basis to address community needs, traditionally conversations have focused on the external resources that the community lacks, or any number of the things that aren’t going well. Unsurprisingly, this approach rarely leaves residents feeling empowered and motivated to address these problems.
A better approach is community asset mapping, which focuses on existing community strengths, rather than weaknesses. By making this shift, residents and change-makers feel more inspired than defeated which helps keep morale and momentum up over the life of a project.
Community asset mapping catalyzes connections, builds consensus and creatively engages local residents and organizations to address the community’s most pressing problems and tap into new or underutilized resources. Community members and organizations become co-learners and co-creators, all the way from identifying and defining the issue to identifying the assets available and discovering, designing and implementing the solutions.
Several years ago, we were invited to help a coastal Tribal community in Alaska to address the growing depletion of fish in its waters. Fishing had been the village’s main economic resource. Tribal leaders were concerned about their future and were seeking support with sustainability strategies.
Campaign Consultation used an asset mapping approach to bring tribal leaders, village residents and local organizations together and diagram all of the region’s assets (both traditional and new). By shifting the conversation from focusing solely the declining fish population and the resulting economic concerns, the villagers realized that they had an over-abundance of a lucrative untapped economic resource: gravel.
During the long winter months, air transportation was the only means of transport between villages. Gravel was needed to build and maintain aircraft runways, which are critical for the region because during the long winter months air transportation is often the only means of transport between villages.
Community asset mapping helped to increase the capacity of the villagers to not only identify this untapped resource, but to harness the power of collaboration and connections to turn the abundance of gravel into a viable economic resource to grow a new, sustainable economy.
Below are great links to aid in creating your own community asset map.
A community asset map provides a gateway to shaping strong, vibrant communities. Have you created an asset map? We’d love to hear from you.
Finance & Operations Manager
Campaign Consultation, Inc.