Neighborhood residents across the country are realizing that they hold the key to neighborhood revitalization and sustaining healthy neighborhoods. Increasing and mobilizing residents is often a challenge for many neighborhoods. But it is being done across the country on a daily basis and will take commitment, determination, passion and creative approaches. One of the greatest assets of any neighborhood is the people with the gifts and talents to make a difference in improving the quality of life for all.
According to John McKnight at Northwestern University and author of "Asset-Based Community Development", the key is to help residents identify those assets and put them to work on the issues that they think are most important. Don't just look at a community and decide what's wrong - look at a community and build on what's right.
In his research, John McKnight points out that "across the United States, communities are in trouble. In our cities, economies sputter, social ties weaken, and political power fades. But everywhere, creative local leaders are fighting back, rebuilding neighborhoods and communities. And they are succeeding by starting with what they already have. In the face of diminished prospects for outside help, they are turning first of all to their neighbors and to the local citizens associations and institutions that lie at the heart of their community,"
A capacity-building approach is a powerful revitalization tool that:
- creates an environment that will nurture and strengthen the gifts and talents of residents and future neighborhood leaders;
- provides the resources including education, funding, and capacity-building tools;
- involves residents directly who can influence and engage in solutions that will make a lasting difference;
- gives residents the opportunity to learn new skills, meet people, and solve problems as a team;
- addresses neighborhood challenges and issues in a cost-effective manner.
Get involved and make a lasting difference!
Other helpful links:
The Community Tool Box is a global resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It offers more than 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement.
The City of Charlotte, Neighborhood and Business Services, Community University