What it's about:
When we're trying to build resilience in communities thought of as "low capacity", it's easy to lose sight of the dictum that when it comes to a community's needs and future, the community is the expert - always.
According to this blog post's author, however, "their deficiencies — e.g., relatively high levels of poverty, violence, drug use, mental illness and distrust — are often thought to prevent residents’ interest in or ability to organize on their own behalf around issues, such as participating in wildfire resilience."
The post presents a story from Mendocino County, California, where a community is "working from the inside-out" to chart its own path toward resilience to natural disasters. By identifying and connecting their existing strengths, the community realized who else should be "at the table" and also identified opportunities for change.
The story also highlights several related resources that resilience practitioners in other areas can use to do similar asset-based work.
Why it's noteworthy:
Almost every public service program and organization claims to be community-based. But what actually qualifies as community-based?
Is it that the project serves the community or that the project is informed, shaped and "owned" by the community? I'd argue it's the latter, but pathways toward work truly grounded in a community can be hard to find, especially if you're working in a rural and/or financially poor community.
It's so easy as an outsider, and sometimes an insider, to focus on what's wrong - not enough money, too much crime, not enough jobs.
This post not only offers concrete resource guides for how to truly ground your work in a community and its strengths, it also tells a place-based story about how one community in California is using this model to blaze its own personalized path toward wildfire resilience.
To me, the author sums up the approach when she says, "Your community’s capacity gets stronger by utilizing the assets that make it up, not by substituting resources from elsewhere."
Read it on
Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network