By Amy Heydlauff
In my work world there are a lot of acronyms. This week I read a new one (to me). ABCD. No kidding. ABCD. It refers to an approach to community health.
Community health, these days, encompasses everything from pollution to unemployment, safe play spaces, healthy food, access to good health care and more. Lots of universities and experts are weighing in on how to go about improving ‘health’ when problems exist. Some of them are promoting ABCD or Asset Based Community Development.
There is one huge point in ABCD that completely resonates with me. Quoting from ‘An Introduction to Building Communities from the Inside Out’ that says “First, all the historic evidence indicates that significant community development takes place only when local community people are committed to investing themselves and their resources in the effort.”
To me this idea is as simple as making a kid do their own homework. They are more vested in their education and feel better about themselves because they took responsibility. In fact, research shows kids who were expected to help around the house are happier as adults. In other words, when we contribute we care. When we care, we feel good. And based on my personal experience, when we feel good, we get a lot more done.
Let me give you an example of this concept in action. In Chelsea, one man (Jeff Hardcastle) decided there had been talk of trails in and around the community for far too long. It was time for action. It didn’t take him long to convince other community members it was time to act because they wanted trails, too. Then they asked for a broader group of community members to demonstrate their commitment with small donations. Sensing the excitement, hundreds responded. The next step was to ask organizations (businesses and non-profits) to contribute. Many more stepped up with contributions of all sorts (time, talent and treasures). Lastly they sought funding from government agencies. Because they could demonstrate such strong community support, grants materialized. Two years later, bull dozers are moving dirt. Rather than waiting for someone else to swoop in and make something happen, the everyday people of the community came to life.
This isn’t the only time we’ve seen such commitment to our own communities work to the community’s advantage. Think safe routes to school, farm to table dinners, vital farmers’ markets and community organized walks and races, among others.
And that’s how we get things done. Dare I say: It’s as easy as A, B, C?