There are functions that only people living in families and communities can perform to promote mental health and wellbeing, and if they do not do those things; they will not get done, since, there simply is no substitute for genuine citizen-led community care (not to be confused with volunteer mentoring schemes).” Cormac Russell
I have always been excited by the potential of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). This approach to community development focuses on a community’s assets, capacities and abilities. Historic evidence indicates that significant community development takes places only when local community people are committed to investing in themselves and their resources. Communities are built bottom-up, not top-down.
I was thrilled when Cormac Russell, a major figure in the ABCD world, agreed to join the Sharing Culture network of Advisors/Healers. Here is Cormac’s profile:
'Cormac Russell is Managing Director of Nurture Development, Director of ABCD Europe and a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago.
He has trained communities, agencies, NGOs and governments in ABCD and other strengths based approaches in Kenya, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia.
In January 2011, Cormac was appointed to the Expert Reference Group on Community Organising and Communities First, by Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society in the UK, which he served on for the term of the Group.
Some current/recent examples of his national and international work include the following:
- Leading all national sporting organisations in Canada, in conjunction with the Canadian Council for Ethics in Sport, to adopt a shared vision as to how sport can become an asset for community building. This is effecting significant changes in the structures of major sporting organizations, but also at a local community level in terms of community empowerment and citizen driven development.
- Working closely with I&Dea in the UK, advising them on the development of an asset based approach to health and on addressing health inequalities in low income communities. Advising on their ground breaking report: The Glass Half Full: how an assets approach can improve community health and well being.
- Working in partnership with the University of Limerick and Atlantic Philanthropies in Ireland to infuse an ABCD approach across the entire city of Limerick. Part of this process involved organising an entire neighbourhood to address issues of loneliness, fear and intimidation and to support citizen driven development. The long-term vision is of a city that puts citizens and communities in the driving seat, through processes of neighbourhood organising and bottom up planning and where services are organised in the way in which community is organised. This aligns closely to the Seattle model.
- Ongoing adviser to Dublin City Council on the implementation of the Council’s Community Development and Neighbourhood Revitalisation Strategy.
- Cormac is leading on an Asset Based Approach to Education in Rwanda.
- He also leads on ten separate learning sites in the UK, including his highly innovative work in the County of Gloucestershire where over forty organisations across the public and third sector are actively engaged in strengths based practices.
Other examples of Cormac’s work are available on Nurture Development’s website.
You can watch Cormac explaining ABCD below. His blog is also well worth a look.