Toss your list of needs: Give thanks instead
“Seeing all assets of a community is like looking through a kaleidoscope: many colored chips of glass fit together in many different ways as you turn the scope,” say the authors of When People Care Enough to Act.
One of the guiding principles of this book we are currently reviewing for CausePlanet is grounded in the notion that we achieve genuinely effective community solutions if we focus on our assets rather than solely on our needs.
Authors Green, Moore and O’Brien would be proud of the students of Lancaster High School in Lancaster, California. The student body recently raised $80,000 earlier this year to design an accessible house for fellow community member and disabled Iraq War veteran, Jerral Hancock. Hancock was paralyzed and lost an arm in combat in 2007.
The entire community got involved soon thereafter. Local contractors, architects and real estate consultants donated manpower, local hardware stores offered discounts on supplies, and inmates at the local prison hosted an art sale to raise proceeds.
In chapter seven, “Building the Bridge From Client to Citizen,” the authors explain that “there is no one we don’t need” in a community. The Lancaster residents are a perfect example of this perspective. The authors further explore the great possibilities with inclusiveness and “seeing with a citizen’s eyes.” The people of Lancaster, California, viewed themselves as equal partners in creating a solution they cared about. When people care enough to act, it’s remarkable what can be accomplished.
Focusing on our community’s assets couldn’t come at a more appropriate time for Americans since we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. Our Canadian neighbors have already celebrated in October but the meaning is the same for both holidays. Thanksgiving commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 and is a time to give thanks for what we have.
Rather than default to your list of needs, I encourage you to look at your organization and community and identify the assets. How does this perspective change your ability to tackle complex issues? What other organizations could be viewed as assets if you collaborate? Green, Moore and O’Brien would say it’s a great week to give thanks.