Creating Space for Strength: Public event

June 14, 2013

Last night, we had the opportunity to showcase eight months of work on our project “Creating Space for Strength: An Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and Research Project for Calgary’s North Central Communities”.

The event was organized by Northern Hills Community Association. More than 50 people came to see the results of the community assessment including community leaders, citizens and funders.

Here’s a copy of the slides we used during our presentation:

Creating space for strength final report (slides) from Sarah Eaton

One aspect of this project that we found especially energizing was the inclusion of a youth consultation. I did a training session with the  Youth Council of the Northern Hills Community Association, showing them the steps to follow to do their own group consultation, so the voices of young people could be included in our results.

After the training session, the young people planned, organized and executed their own public consultation that engaged more than 50 young people from their community. After their consultation, they analyzed the results and presented their findings alongside us at last night’s event.

It’s pretty inspirational to watch a group of young people care so deeply about their community:

The event was covered by City TV and CTV, and featured an interview with a local community association leader who has been an integral part of the project.
Here’s a copy of our final report for the project (132 pages):

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Creating Space for Strength – Interim Final Report

May 16, 2013

In October, 2012, I began working with two other consultants, Lee Tunstall and Vilma Dawson, on a project called “Creating Space for Strength” for Calgary’s North Central Communities. We started with an asset-based community development (ABCD) approach and started researching:

  • What makes these communities good and strong?
  • What could be better?
  • How do we get there?

Our project involved interviewing residents from nine Calgary communities, conducting group community consultations and analyzing demographic data to help us understand who lives in these communities.

We are pleased to share our interim final report:

View this document on Scribd

Related posts:

  • Community Conversation – Creating Space for Strength in Calgary’s North Central Communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1yX
  • How to Host a World Cafe: Great Resources to Help You Host a Community Conversation that Matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1zO
  • How Community Conversations Create Powerful Possibilities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1z7
  • An Introductory Public Webinar: Creating Space for Strength An Asset-Based Community Development and Research Project Focussed on Calgary’s North Central Communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wq
  • 5 Great resources on asset-based community development (ABCD) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1xJ
  •  Webinar recording: Creating Space for Strength http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wI
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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Creating Space for Strength – Interim Final Report http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bv

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Easy 3-step process to evaluate a volunteer board

January 4, 2013

Business - Group - team hands

In April of 2012 I became president of our condo board, where I had served as a director for about 5 years. We had some returning board members, some new members and we had also recent changed to a new management company.

One of the issues we had with the previous condominium management company was that projects were either not completed or they took a very long time to get done. This new company seems to get tasks completed more quickly, but nevertheless, there was growing discontent that “nothing is happening” or “things are not moving fast enough”.

Using an asset-based approach to community development (ABCD), I conducted a brief appreciative assessment and presented it to the board as a report at our last meeting. They were able to see how far we had come in a few short months. One board member said that it should be sent out to all the residents as a newsletter. I am in the process of preparing that now. The technique was so simple and successful, I wanted to share it with you.

If you work with a volunteer group who is feeling, here are the steps to prepare your own ABCD evaluation of your work:

Step 1: Take an inventory of what your group has achieved

Review old meeting agendas and minutes. Review your e-mail history. Think of yourself panning for gold. Let’s face it, community work is muddy at best. Finding the little nuggets tucked into all the mud takes a bit of time and patience, but it is worth it.

As you find a significant task that has been completed add it to your list. I didn’t minor items such as light bulbs being replaced. Instead, I focused on more significant projects or tasks that we would be proud to tell our owners that we had achieved.

Step 2: Categorize your group’s achievements

For our condo board, I used these categories:

  • Policy and governance achievements
  • Major projects completed
  • Major projects initiated
  • Repairs completed
  • Additional achievements

Step 3: Organize your achievements under each category heading

I used numbered lists. The minimum I had in any category was four. The most I had was nine.

In total, we had 23 noteworthy achievements in a six-month period. Pretty impressive for a group of six volunteers, don’t you think?

When we work with condo boards, volunteer or community groups the feeling that goals are not being accomplished fast enough is more common than many of us would like to admit.

Taking an inventory of recent achievements helps you to stay accountable to those you serve. It also helps volunteers see how their contributions make a difference. Even when progress is slow, it still counts. Sometimes, it is not as slow as our perceptions might have us believe.

This type of strength-based evaluation works well with a disgruntled group who fails to recognize how far they have come in a short period of time. It is easy to focus on needs, gaps and challenges. An asset-based approaches seeks first to identify what is working well and use that as as starting point to build on. Don’t get me wrong. We still have a very long “to do” list and we have some problems that we need to solve. Sometimes, when you stop focusing obsessively on the problems and take an inventory of what is going right (as opposed to everything that is wrong), motivation levels increase, focus is renewed and people begin to enjoy their volunteer service again. That is all the more reason to take a step back and assess what we have actually done to meet the goals we set and make our community better.

This technique would work well for a team of staff, volunteers or any group who comes together to work towards a common goal.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Easy 3-step process to evaluate a volunteer board http://wp.me/pNAh3-1ye

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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