Friday Food For Thought: Associations

Associations by John McKnight

Question: Why do associations matter?
Thoughts:  Many neighbors are connected to interesting and productive groups clubs and associations. Many neighbors may be interested in connecting their interests or gifts to these groups. Many of these groups may join the neighbors in undertaking a community project.

Question: What are the types of associations and what do you do with this information?
Thoughts: Here are some ways of thinking about this:

Identify associations of local residents.
Ask people about the groups they belong to.

Our question to you: What types of associations did you find?

Connect the gifts of individuals to associations.
You could connect a gardener to the garden club, someone to a mother’s group.

Our question to you: What connections did you make?

Create new neighborhood associations.
Connect neighborhood musicians and form a band, organize community energy savers from among those concerned about the environment.

Our question to you: What new groups did you create?

Connect existing associations. You can connect a garden club to the local environmental organization or a seniors organization to a youth group.

Our question to you: What associations did you connect?

Question: What can we do with our local institutions?
Thoughts: We can divide our effort into several categories:

Local Institutions.
Many neighbors have connections with local institutions such as businesses, health and human service agencies, police and fire departments, schools, libraries, hospitals, parks, etc. Their connections can often lead local institutions to be helpful to people in the neighborhood and neighborhood people can be helpful to the institutions.

Neighbors’ relationships with local institutions.
Where does each neighbor work?  Is the workplace local?  Does the neighbor own the business? Which other local institutions is the neighbor connected to?

The information about the neighbors’ institutional connections can create two kinds of productive new neighborhood relationships:

-What are the job openings the neighbors know about?
-Are there internship possibilities for neighborhood young people in the institution where neighbors work?

This can be given to all the neighbors through the neighborhood web site, newsletter or the Connectors Table.

-What information did you find about jobs and internships?
-How did you communicate the information to the neighbors?
-What connections were made between neighbors and institutions?

A neighborhood project with local institutions.
All the neighborhood businesses, not for profit agencies and government organizations have potential for productive connections. Neighbors can identify all the local institutions and visit them to find out:

-What kinds of jobs do the institutions have and how can the neighborhood be informed of openings?
-Would the institutions be willing to provide internships for local young people?
-How could neighbors help the local businesses find more customers and  become more profitable?
-How could the neighbors support the work of the local agencies and government organizations?

This project provides great opportunities for mutually beneficial connections between neighbors and local institutions.

Question: How do Connectors sustain themselves and keep learning about this function?
Thoughts: Start by convening a Connector’s Table.

Posted with permission.  See the original post here at Abundant Community.

John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development.

About communitiesfirstassociation
Using Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) methods, CFA transforms a growing number of communities and engages Christians and Churches in their community.

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