It builds on:
Appreciative inquiry, which identifies and analyses the community’s past successes. This strengthens people’s confidence in their own capabilities and inspires them to take action.
The recognition of social capital and its importance as an asset. This approach focuses on the power of associations and informal linkages within the community and relationships built over time.
Participatory approaches to development, which are based on the principle of empowerment and ownership of the development process.
Community economic development models that place priority on collaborative efforts for economic development that makes the best uses of its own resource base.
Efforts to strengthen civil society. These efforts have focused on how to engage people as citizens in the development, and how to make local governance more effective and responsive.
How is ABCD Facilitated?
ABCD is a process of self-mobilization and organization for change.
The following steps do not presume to add up to a complete blueprint for asset-based community development. Rather, they are intended to identify some of the major challenges facing community builders, and to point at least toward the beginning of a walk down the path that would mobilize an entire community’s assets around a vision and a plan. Such a path would cover at least these basic steps:
Collecting stories: to begin building confidence in the community, informal discussions and interviews that draw out people’s experience of successful activities and projects will help to uncover the gifts, skills, talents, and assets people have. This celebration of achievement and realization of what they have to contribute builds confidence in their abilities to be producers, not recipients, of development.
Organizing a core group: in the process of collecting stories, particular people will emerge as leaders in the community. The next step is to organize a group of committed individuals who are interested in exploring further the community assets and acting on the opportunities identified.
Mapping the capabilities and assets of individuals, associations and local institutions:
Mapping is more than gathering data. It is very important that citizens and their associations do the asset mapping themselves so that they build new relationships, learn more about contributions and talents of the community members, and identify potential linkages between different assets.
Identifying individual gifts, skills, and capabilities
Identifying the assets of local institutions
Identifying physical assets and natural resources
Mapping the local economy
For more information about Mapping Assets
Building a community vision and plan
During this process, assets are matched with opportunities around an “organizing theme” – a vision for community development. An activity is selected within that organizing theme for the community to begin working on right away. This activity needs to be:
For more information about building a community vision and plan Convening the Community
Mobilizing an Entire Community
Across the country, community builders are refocusing attention on capacities and assets, and are inventing new methods for mobilizing neighborhood residents. Most often, however, these efforts concentrate on one or two local assets, generating new relationships and influence for a particular school, or church, or park, or community organization. Before us lies the challenge of a more comprehensive asset-based strategy, one which might involve virtually the entire community in the complex process of regeneration. Mobilizing the community’s assets is fully for economic development and information sharing purposes.
For more information about Mobilizing Assets
Building relationships among local assets is for mutually beneficial problem-solving within the community.
The types of questions community builders always ask themselves are: What might such a process look like? What are the basic building blocks which, when fully mapped, would constitute a more or less complete inventory of a community’s assets? How might these building blocks be combined into a strong and dynamic community building strategy? How do the disciplines of community organizing, community economic development and community-based planning inform this whole community strategy? Who might be appropriate conveners for this process, providing it with the leadership which invites investment and vision?
For more information about Building Relationships
Leveraging Outside Resources
Leveraging activities, investments and resources from outside the community to support asset-based, locally defined development: external resources are not tapped until local resources have been utilized. This puts the community in a position of strength in dealing with outside institutions.
For more information about Leveraging Outside Resources
Taken together, these above steps begin to point the way down a community building path which is, in fact, asset-based, internally focused and relationship driven. These steps can each be thoroughly examined in a little more detail using the link associated with each step.]]>
San Francisco, California
“I believe HIV is a civil rights issue.”
24 Years Old and Changing the World
Todd Murray has been on Earth barely as long as the HIV epidemic itself, but he has already left his mark in the battle to end it. Diagnosed with HIV four years ago at age 20, Todd has helped found two nonprofit agencies dedicated to addressing the special needs of HIV-positive people under 25: Hope’s Voice, a national organization, and Positive Hope, a global HIV support community with members in two dozen countries. As Executive Director for both agencies, Todd uses his own experience as a young adult with HIV to motivate people of all ages to create HIV support services in their communities, and to reduce the number of new HIV infections by providing quality HIV education and support to all people, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, risk factors or HIV status.
Todd is currently on a month-long speaking tour with the “Road to Hope” tour, a nationwide educational campaign that is the result of collaboration between Hope’s Voice and the Student Global AIDS Campaign. “Road to Hope” speakers will provide HIV education and testing at colleges and high schools across the United States, and introduce the Hope’s Voice “Does HIV Look Like Me?” awareness campaign nationwide as it travels. For more information on the tour schedule, visit the Hope’s Voice Web site at hopesvoice.org.
“There are people out there who are living and following their dreams, and you should do the same. … Pay attention to what you’re doing to your body, and don’t let life slip by.”
Who have been your mentors? Who do you look up to, and why?
First would be my parents, who made me who I am and taught me to stand up for myself and to work for what I want to see in the world. Second is Pedro Zamoros — when I was growing up and watching MTV, his was the only face and voice of HIV that I had. I dedicate a lot of my work to his bravery. He was the first and only one doing what he was doing for young people, and even now there are so few youth doing what he did.
Really, though, everyone who has fought this same fight is my hero. That includes the activists who founded ACT-UP, and lots of the civil rights heroes. I believe HIV is a civil rights issue; I see a lot of parallels between our struggle and the struggles of other civil rights workers in history.
What made you decide to speak out publicly about your HIV status?
After I was diagnosed, I went through a long period of time where I didn’t think about it or look in the mirror or anything. I felt a deep sense of shame and regret, because I’d made a decision that turned out to be a mistake. But everyone does that — everyone makes that kind of mistake. I wasn’t going to go back in the closet, so to speak, and keep secrets from everyone — and I was tired of seeing my friends become HIV positive, tired of sitting around and watching it happen. It’s a tragic situation, but I don’t believe I need to live a tragic life.
What do you think is unique about the audiences you try to reach when you speak out?
Well, my agency speaks to everyone. When I look out at an audience, it’s not one color or gender or sexuality. Lots of programs target specific groups. While I believe that needs to happen to some degree, our programs aren’t built just for one population. We want everyone who comes in to feel connected — that’s our mission.
What’s the best thing about sharing your story with others?
People realize that HIV/AIDS affects them. I could go to a class and talk and give statistics and all that, but when you talk with students about their world, they leave feeling respected and educated. One-half of new infections are in young people under age 25 — we’re losing the battle, and we need to get real! When we speak with students, they do feel connected. We get e-mails and letters; they feel a personal connection to HIV/AIDS. I met a young woman tonight who still thought you could get HIV from sharing a glass of water. She now has a connection and can protect herself and educate others.
What’s the worst thing about sharing your story with others?
I think the worst thing is that you might rather be more selective about who knows you’re HIV positive. When you’re that much of an advocate that’s not really an option. That can be emotionally challenging — so few people are out, so everyone comes to you for counsel. Some days you just want to feel normal and to be able to have some privacy.
What do your relatives feel about you speaking out?
I don’t think it’s easy for them. I do know that most of my relatives know, and my immediate family is concerned and worried — they call me all the time to make sure I’m doing okay and I’m healthy. They also know that I’ve always stood by what I think is right, and they believe the same things that I do, so they are very supportive of my work. I couldn’t do it without their support … like I said before, my mom and dad raised me to be the way I am. I’m also inspired by my siblings. My sister is 21, a good mother and a good friend. My 12-year-old brother was born with special needs, and his attitude is “You can let it get the best of you, or you can get the best of it!” That’s an inspiration too.
What have you learned since you began speaking openly about your HIV status?
I think the main thing I’ve learned so far is the power of the human spirit, and the willingness of people to see the best in even the worst situations. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. I took for granted a lot of the best things in my life, like my family and friends and access to decent healthcare. It’s humbled me to have all those blessings available to me now that I’m dealing with all this as an HIV-positive person. I feel focused and moved to make a difference. I’ll never say I wanted this, because of course no one wants it. But I believe all things happen for a reason, so I can continue to live and not let anything stop me from going forward with my plans and my dreams.
Any tips for those who are newly diagnosed?
You are not alone! This is not your last day; you are going to wake up tomorrow. There are people out there who are living and following their dreams, and you should do the same. Use everything you have to your advantage — get educated, talk with people. Pay attention to what you’re doing to your body and don’t let life slip by.
What do you think is the first thing someone who has just found out they have HIV should do? What’s the second thing?
First, you need to know that you have a choice: You can ignore HIV or you can take care of yourself. Second, find resources for yourself. You have to initiate contact with whatever can help you, whether through e-mail or a web site or an AIDS organization or talking with a person. You have to learn to be your own advocate — get educated, and talk with someone you can trust. Cry if you have to. There’s nothing wrong with crying or saying “I’m afraid” or getting help.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing HIV-positive people today?
The general lack of understanding and compassion towards the HIV positive. There’s a stigma; we’re treated like lepers. I don’t look at it any different than cancer, really, and people with cancer are treated with respect and compassion. But we’re still fighting for that compassion.
What is the biggest change you’d like to see in HIV care?
There’s still real horror stories from the medical community. I read about people having to move across the country in order to get adequate care; I hear about young people whose nurses won’t touch them. I heard recently about a 22-year-old man who was admitted to the intensive care unit, who knew this was his last night. He was crying all night for his mother and his boyfriend. The nurses wouldn’t even sit with him and hold his hand. That’s not a death with dignity, not by a long shot. The medical community needs to have a lot more understanding and compassion for us.
What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in HIV education?
In education, well, where to begin? There’s a major lack of adequate sexual health education in this country. There’s at least one state where it’s illegal to say the word “condom” in schools — what’s that about? Condoms are not about religion. Condoms are about protection. Our agency calls for progressive, comprehensive education in the schools. Parents need to look at their children’s textbooks, because a tiny minority is making the education decisions for everyone right now. The strongest schools are those that talk to their students and make sure they’re getting what they need, the same way an agency will talk with their clients to make sure they’re getting what they need. We all have to get involved with the schools!
What kind of relationship do you have with your care providers?
It’s good! When I’m speaking with students who are going into medical fields, they always ask me, “What can I do to make healthcare better for people with HIV?” I tell them, “Give your patients five extra minutes.” Although it’ll add an hour onto their day if they give five extra minutes to 10 patients, it makes a huge difference. My doctor takes that five minutes to check in with me about my life and my work before we get down to the nitty-gritty about why I’m there, and that’s part of why I stay with him.
Do you have any health or wellness regimen that you feel helps you stay healthy?
I try to stay balanced and I try to keep a positive outlook. Living a balanced life is the major thing. I work out, eat well and try to keep a good mindset. I want to let my body and my mind fight the virus for now before I try anything man-made. I’m young and real healthy and got diagnosed early, so that’s what I’m doing for now.