Highlight 2: The Abundant Community Network
Throughout the summer months we saw great connections happening between neighbors and we clearly saw the importance and power of our work, however we also began to observe challenges. For example, we had interviewed close to 100 neighbors and we were struggling to keep track of the information we had gathered. Furthermore, as we branched out from our block the process felt less and less relational--which is at the heart of all of our work.
Amazingly, we had the opportunity to have lunch with John McKnight, who developed the idea of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). He generously shared insights and ideas with us, and at the end of the meal he suggested we reach out to Howard Lawrence in Edmonton, Alberta. Howard has developed a model for doing ABCD in neighborhoods by recruiting one or two Block Connectors on each block. These Block Connectors do 3 things: 1) they interview the neighbors on their block to find out their skills and interests, 2) host 2 block parties a year and 3) meet once a month with other Block Connectors to share what they are discovering and seek connections.
We did connect with Howard Lawrence and he has graciously agreed to mentor us in using this model. As we moved through October and November we got acquainted with the material. On December 1, we hosted our first Block Connector training, and currently we have 4 AWESOME Block Connectors. We will be using the cold winter months to slowly recruit a few more Block Connectors and work with them to learn how this model best fits into SoCe.
The Block Connectors are volunteers. SoCe Life staffers Matt and Catherine Johnson recruit, train and support the Block Connectors and maintain the database where interview information is stored. We have started calling this model of connecting the Abundant Community Network.