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WHAT WE DO: Community Model

Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© Revised Model Summary

In 1994 CBR, formerly the Community Development Office of the Capital Health Region in Edmonton, Alberta conducted a pilot project in Asset-based Community Building (ABCB) and Asset-based Community Development (ABCD), talking and asset mapping with the Glenwood Community League in the Summer and Fall of 1994. The project provided an opportunity to begin the development of a model for Community Capacity Building and Asset Mapping©. The goals of Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© are to: discover the assets and capacities of a community, design an asset map that graphically shows the supports and their connections, develop a resource for community supports, connect and animate citizens and nurture relationship building. The key elements of the model are called the Steps to Capacity Success©.

Many other Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© projects, using the Steps to Capacity Success©, that have been completed since Fall 1994 providing information for enhancements to the original Fall 1994 document. A workshop called Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© - R.A.F.F. It Up - Making Community Building Happen was developed to provide communities an opportunity to develop an understanding of Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© and the Steps to Capacity Success© and create their own Community Building strategies.

Key Model Elements - Steps to Capacity Success©

The six key steps delineated here are what we have seen to be common ground in Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping©.    

1. Define the Question and the Focus

  • Participate in a Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© - R.A.F.F. It Up - Making Community Building Happen workshop

  • Bring together a group to learn, to discuss and create a plan for Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping©

    Community Poster

  • Remember R.A.F.F. - if it isn't fun it won't last

  • Communicate

2. Initiate

  • Begin to R.A.F.F.

  • Establish key community contacts/key stakeholders

  • Refine key conversation questions

  • Develop community partnerships, networks and links/working groups

  • Complete a community "walkabout" and gather community profile information

  • Make use of existing research resources (ie. key print and technological resources with the community)

  • Confirm geographic boundaries for the asset mapping (if appropriate)

  • Develop a short paper description of the Community Building

  • Inform community members – social media, newsletter, and by attending community gatherings/meetings

  • Develop goals and objectives

  • Develop timeline

  • Communicate

3. Planning For Community Conversations (Design Questionnaire and Database)

  • Design conversational questions to ask individuals, business/associations or groups

  • Write questions in logical order and ensure that each question requires only one answer (this eases database design if being used)

  • Set up separate databases to complement each questionnaire

  • Communicate

4. Talking, Discovering, Connecting (Conducting the Survey)

  • Develop a comprehensive list of all businesses and associations

  • Develop a paper description of what you are doing to give to each person with whom you speak or make contact

  • Develop a plan for talking to citizens, businesses, and associations

  • Conduct a training session with new helpers

  • Initially talk with as many project partner members as possible

  • Connect with key people in key organizations - talk with them and ask them the question using the questions you designed

  • Preferably talk with the owner/manager/supervisor in the organization

  • Expand your organization lists as you talk with new people and new information emerges

  • Talk in person whenever possible to ensure relationships are developed

  • As you are talking make the information sharing and gathering mutual, and relationship building

  • Record the information (on a database, or on a question sheet)

  • Communicate

5. Putting It All Together

  • Create an asset map from the information you have to date

  • Describe what happened and discuss the results to date through a written account or story

  • Communicate

6. Communicate - All the time with as many people as possible

  • Keep people informed throughout - Church Bulletins, Newsletters, local paper, etc.

  • Develop a summary (feedback loop) and send a copy to all the people you met

  • Present copies of the written account to all key parties

  • Communicate results with communities and groups inside and outside the community/ies that navigated the Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© project

  • Keep a record of to whom the written account or story and summaries (feedback loops) have been sent


The Community Capacity Building and Asset Mapping Model© can be applied in any setting. CBR has been involved in a variety of Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© and Steps to Capacity Success© initiatives in urban and rural neighbourhoods.  Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping© initiatives have also been started with groups asking questions about food supports, supports for stress management, recreational support for youth, community connections for youth, and supports for children. Remember, the elements, often called the Steps to Capacity Success©, are only the beginning of Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping©. Full accounts of some of these initiatives are available upon request from our office.

Two reflections have been completed with 15 of the communities who practice ABCB and many have used Community Capacity Building & Asset Mapping©. The lessons learned during these reflections are available form our office.

Please feel free to contact CBR if you have any questions, ideas or would like further information.




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