Creating Community, Together
On a Saturday in early September, about 10 Louisville neighbors gathered together for a morning of learning and connection. This was the first session in a three-part seminar series designed to explore the topic, “Creating Change, Together.” Essentially, this series of seminars pursues the question, “How do you turn knowledge into action?” And how do you act in an intentional and inclusive way, instead of independently maneuvering towards your goals? It’s truly about moving beyond terminology and diving into application within the community.
Jasmine Wigginton, who works both at Americana Community Center and with Young Authors Greenhouse, offered her inner motivation to spend her Saturday morning learning. “I want to learn how to involve and build more community [in my work]. I want to create a long-term engagement plan.” In so many words, Wigginton recognizes that community building is a two-pronged process requiring long-distance stamina: building new webs of community connection is valuable, but in order to ensure sustainability, it’s important to also activate and include existing networks in a community.
In this first of three seminars, our Education and Engagement Director, Mikal Forbush, guided the class on a deeper journey into Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). While the concept of ABCD is introduced and explained in the Neighborhood Institute curriculum, this seminar aimed to present it as an applicable method of organizing and as a process of development. Not everyone in the seminar had participated in Neighborhood Institute, but everyone in the room was offered the foundational underpinnings: everyone has gifts, everyone has something that motivates them to act, every community has assets.
Together, the group put methodology into practice, experimenting with ABCD strategies like “Listening Conversations” and community organizing tactics such as “Developing a Power Analysis” - Who has power in a community? What are the levels of power? How is it that power being used? - as well as learning how and why to turn “Problems Into Issues.”
For Amy Talbot, Wigginton’s fellow seminar participant, hope lies in the asset-based mindset. While she is already working in her neighborhood to beautify a commercial block, she is on the lookout for ways to apply ABCD techniques to her project. “I want to learn how to make it come to life,” she says.
Sincere thanks to Jasmine and Amy for offering your thoughts. And thank you, Johni, for capturing moments in pictures!
Graduate Seminars are geared towards to Neighborhood Institute graduates, but they are open to all! Stay tuned for details on our second seminar...