Sunday, October 7, 2007

Summary of Participants Reflections from John McKnight's Presentation on 10/1/07

Building Communities from the Inside Out (Post 5 of 5)


Ingredients that are “mapped” to discover all of the assets of the community:

  1. Individual citizen and his/her gifts - one example of an inventory but others have been created by local citizens and associations
  2. Local Associations – less formal and much less dependent upon paid staff than are formal institutions, are the vehicles through which citizens in the U.S. assemble to solve problems, or to share common interests and activities
  3. Institutions – government, schools, hospitals, businesses, other services, etc.
  4. Physical characteristics – the land, buildings and infrastructure of neighborhood
  5. Local Economy – exchange

#1 and #2 are the basis of democracy and will take more time to discover. All of the community assets should be mobilized.

Characteristics of a good CONNECTOR:

  1. Gift centered – universal characteristic
  2. Well connected – been part of the community for a long time – universal characteristic
  3. Trusted
  4. Believes community is welcoming

This is about CONNECTING rather than leadership. A good connector is NOT a leader. A good connector is born and cannot be “trained.”

Summary of Participants Reflections from John McKnight's Presentation on 10/1/07


Things I want to know more about...

  • how I can overcome the effects of spending my days in a labeling environment
  • beginning to connect
  • finding connectors
  • our organization being a “case study” in Westerville
  • how to encourage people to connect in their communities
  • any local efforts like this in Columbus area
  • the other 4 assets for building community
  • how I can apply gift inventories
  • “gift inventory”
  • more of the above
  • skills/how to identify connectors
  • ways to reach “fringe” groups/people
  • Could some of this be applied to issues as well as persons?
  • What gifts does the Otterbein community possess?
  • How do we find enough people to accompany those who would give?
  • guides to emphasizing the gifts of the marginalized
  • more connections
  • other examples of how people get connected
  • how the community can continue their commitments to the individuals – What keeps these connections going?
  • the other 4 ingredients to the recipe and how to accomplish this – how to get our busy world to care, etc.
  • how to reconcile needs with gifts – say alcoholism, clinical depression
  • how asset based community building transforms communities in more of a macro sense – I see how it enriches individual lives and believe there would be a ripple effect
    future studies and positive stories
  • how to go about making effective connections
  • developing a good interview tool to discover community gifts
  • involving people with behaviors in community – I hope John will consider speaking in Northwest Ohio
  • what I can do where I am to share my gifts with others and discover the gifts of others
  • organizations in my local community that are doing this
  • Summary of Participants Reflections from John McKnight's Presentation on 10/1/07


    What seems most important among all the stories I heard...

    • the depth of probing and reflection that allowed people to find the gifts of “those on the edge”
    • the embracing of individuals that without sharing their gifts would not have build relationships
    • focusing on the gifts
    • the importance of recognizing and connecting peoples gifts to bring about community transformation
    • need to focus on gifts and find “connectors”
    • finding the gifts – the work behind that
    • that I overlooked people who I marginalized through my own perceptions
    • need for others to appreciate benefits to themselves by accepting gifts from others who were overlooked before
    • the examples of success stories in Chicago – real people we all know
    • the stories confirmed what I have experienced throughout life – only we need to know more
    • New Prospect Baptist Soup Kitchen story – the pastor’s story about God’s message to him
    • You can uncover tremendous resources in your community by focusing on the part of the glass that is full
    • Probably a need to run counter to or undo training/education that made me aware of deficit, problems, etc.
    • The people who get “connected” don’t have to always have an agenda
    • “Blessed are those who give…” – to best serve a group is to give them power to serve others – share their gifts
    • the transformation of a community through the welcoming of the gifts of everyone
    • the good & bad affects of Eddie’s job to co-workers
    • being connected and all having opportunities to share gifts
    • don’t think in terms of deficits
    • the impact that committed individuals can make
    • Being part of a community is more than being “served” or having 1:1 paid staff time to go in the community for activities AND it is possible one person at a time.
    • the community connections
    • keeping in mind in giving service to also offer/ask what they would like to offer, what they would like to do with the community
    • how we can be empowered by looking at a person’s asset
    • the importance of making the connections and the importance of finding the gifts of people
    • who have been deemed less than – especially the damage of school systems in setting up those labels
    • I can do this! It begins with my positive attitude about accomplishing this.
    • that ALL of us, everyone – period – have gifts to offer others
    • SIMPLICITY – seems so simple
    • reach out to others and welcome all
    • the need for civilian involvement in connection

    Summary of Participants Reflections from John McKnight's Presentation on 10/1/07


    What I learned I didn’t know or acknowledge before...

    • my day-to-day experience in a labeling environment is affecting how I regard people and approach problems
    • the value of communities needing and utilizing everyone’s gifts
    • the many gifts of citizens in a small community
    • the source of John and his work
    • it’s easy to focus on gifts of others rather than focus on deficits
    • the work of connecting is one person at a time
    • limits of thinking as a server verses a connector
    • key to effective connectors
    • very helpful to carry the image of half empty/half full as deficit/asset descriptions
    • resistance can occur even within organizations designed to help others
    • the idea of giving gifts and helping people see what gifts they have to offer – even when others may not see them as valuable
    • a different perspective, way to gain insight
    • the various stereotypes (phrases) that we make without even knowing it – like “homeless”
    • 2 new thoughts connecting people were important – I’ve known but felt wrong to say that groups honor problems.
    • the importance of connectors for community building
    • gifts of “effective connectors”
    • how I could use in my job every day in the school setting
    • the tremendous power of positive thinking
    • how much the Puerto Rican community became involved with the disenfranchised in their neighborhood
    • what asset based community building is
    • how open some of the communities were
    • the devastating effects of labeling
    • it begins in neighborhood; doesn’t have to be on some grand scale
    • as John said, so many of these things we probably already knew but he “reminded” us of them and challenged us to apply & reflect upon them so beautifully and effectively
      the devastating impact of labels
    • how important we are to each other
    • programs are easy to manage, fund, and control, but individualized connections take effort from the community and need to be micro-managed

    Summary of Participant Reflections from John McKnight's Presentation on 10/1/07


    What surprised me the most…
    • how much the stories touched me on an emotional level
    • “Soup Kitchen” story – hadn’t thought of that angle before
    • the simplicity of the process
    • how simple yet important the message was
    • hearing John’s stories, though a second time, and that they still had such an impact
    • how to separate the levels of building community and recognize the gifts in everyone
    • realized that as a parent, I’ve viewed my children by their deficits – small, keep leaving laundry on the floor & big, not getting a better grade
    • the story of “more blessed to give than receive” – soup kitchen story
    • felt like I was back in church with the gospel story of Lazarus and the rich man from yesterday and the feast of Guardian Angels tomorrow
    • the simple question: What have people done here to make things better?
    • how well accepted these people became after they being a part of an organization
    • concrete, down-to-earth presentation
    • the various ways communities connected citizens with each other
    • how poorly impersonalized “helpful” institutions can harm the very community they wish to help
    • damaging effect of deficit marketing
    • That this was free! What a wonderful speaker and knowledge.
    • how simple it may be to connect
    • how simple the message and building blocks are
    • how committed the community was
    • that many of the people in the story that had become homeless had started businesses
    • how attitudes can change when you look at the ability!
    • how different things can be if you look at the cup as half full
    • how easy it seems to work
    • the gifts we share with each other
    • the information on misery/need based surveys