ABCD Training: May 10-12, 2012 in Saugatuck, MI

ABCD training activity

Join us in Saugatuck, MI on May 10th through the 12th for an Asset Based Community Development training hosted by CFA member Dave Kool in conjunction with Great Lakes Urban.

CFA Executive Director, Jay Van Groningen, will facilitate the training.  Participants will explore the principles of ABCD and address, ”How the church can be a great neighbor, harnessing and supporting their neighbors’ gifts and energies in actions that contribute to a redemption story for individuals and the neighborhood.”

Click here for the training brochure, or call Dave Kool at 616-283-0553 for more information.

ABCD Resources: Jay’s Picks

Someone recently asked me, “If you were going to recommend three books on Community Development in the US context what would you recommend?”

Here is my preferred beginner’s list:

1.  The team that I work with wrote a book called Communities First - it needs a re-write, but it still introduces the themes I work with today. You can order it here.   I recommend the main text without the workbooks as a starter. The workbooks go a little further into application.

2.  Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton is a book along the lines of When Helping Hurts.   It is a good read and goes beyond naming the problems to proposing solution directions.

3.  Peter Block and John McKnight have an excellent book titled The Abundant Community.

A few more resources (because I can’t resist):

  • A website I recommend for Asset Based Community Development and training is  Mike has been a mentor for us.  Another is  Both sites list excellent resources.
  • Peter Block also wrote a great book called Community: The Structure of Belonging.
  • CCDA’s  beginner’s primer by Mary Nelson called Empowerment. You can find it here.

Programs and Communities of Support

Jay Van Groningen – Executive Director

My friend said to me recently, “The problem with this country is that people who operate the systems don’t care.” What was he talking about?

  • Three of his children were perpetually not in their classes at school, and no one notified him even though he had shared custody of them.  All three dropped out by the time they were in the 9th grade.
  • The courts never took the time to get to know him, see his good gifts for parenting because he had a prior felony on his record. They always sided for custody with his ex wife who was mentally unstable and a terrible parent. She only had misdemeanors on her record. (She is white and he is Mexican).
  • His current wife crossed the border to Mexico to be at a nephew’s wedding. Now she cannot return because she had an immigration request pending. No one told her she could not leave the country with her case pending. (Green card application)
  • He has an acquaintance (aged 34) who is on permanent disability. He has a good mind, and mostly able body. He could work, but because he is lazy, he prefers to be on assistance.
  • His youngest son (4th child) is a high school graduate who sleeps all day, watches TV all night while smoking pot and receives disability for being “slow”.  He may be slow, but he is not brain dead and he certainly is not disabled. Who signs off on this young man as being disabled?
  • Another acquaintance applied for and got more than $30,000 in housing subsidies by hiding his (under the table) income and only declaring his wife’s part time recorded income. It was obvious if any one would check there was more income in the household than they declared. No one checked. Meanwhile his roof needs replacing and he can’t get any help because he can’t come up with his portion of the program costs. The inequity in the system is glaring to him.

The litany of woes could go on; What really frustrates my friend is that the systems seem to give up on able people, seem incapable of reasonably attending to people – getting to know them and their story. They seem disinterested in the person and only interested in the eligibility rules. Rather than prepare people, rather than educate them, rather than giving them incentives to live into their giftedness, they adjudicate program rules and totally overlook the capacities, abilities, and promise that lie in dormant in human beings.

A society that addresses social problems with programs of assistance apart from building communities of support will not likely see positive outcomes. A society that couples program supports with communities of accountability and support has a chance at helping citizens move further into their giftedness. CFA is working hard to transform neighborhoods building these communities of accountability and support.  Churches and Christian neighbors are powerful allies in forming the new community and some of their primary gifts are the Biblical values and the gifts of the Spirit they bring to their neighbors.


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