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Join the new ABCD Canada monthly Community of Practice 



Be inspired by Neighbours Journal – a monthly e-newsletter featuring the latest news, articles and events from Tamarack’s Deepening Community Practice Area.

Welcome to ABCD in Canada!

This space is dedicated to illuminating and deepening ways to apply the principles and practices of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and other strengths-based approaches to community change.

In 2016, Tamarack’s Deepening Community Practice Area was chosen by renown community-builder and ABCD co-founder John McKnight, to serve as the home for Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Canada. John’s rationale for choosing Tamarack’s Deepening Community Practice Area as home for ABCD Canada, highlights the importance and uniqueness of our work.  He says, “We have many programs focused on policy and institutions but too few focused on enabling citizens and associations to be producers in their neighborhoods.” 


The Aspiration & Opportunity


Tamarack Institute is deeply privileged to be the host of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Canada. ABCD’s emphasis on strengths, connections, citizen leadership and its recognition that individual gifts become powerful when they are connected together echoes deeply with our own practice and approach to community change.

Tamarack’s mission – to be a connected force for community change – is rooted in a deep appreciation of the unique strengths and innovation that becomes possible when citizens, governments, businesses and non-profit organizations work collaboratively to realize bold futures for their communities. In our experience, communities that collaborate are more successful at addressing complex issues like poverty, equity, community safety and community well-being because they are able to harness the talents, knowledge and strengths of diverse perspectives.



The work of ABCD creates a virtuous circle of sustainable community action. The powerful act of identifying, linking and growing the strengths within a neighbourhood or community restores its resilience and ability to care for itself. Once discovered, the community’s newly-uncovered collective strengths can help realize an endless range of shared priorities.

Join the Learning Community

Share your stories and engage with other community seekers. Get the latest thinking, tools and resources on deepening community.

Learn More

Enjoy ABCD Resources

Discover powerful tools and resources to help you to share these ideas with your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues.                      

Discover Here!

Watch John McKnight 

John McKnight presents at the Tamarack Neighbours: Policies & Programs 2015 national gathering in Hamilton, ON.    

Watch Here

The Principles and Practices of ABCD

The principles and practices of ABCD, first published in 1993, were based upon three decades of research and community work by John Kretzmann and John McKnight beginning in Chicago in the 1960s. These principles are:

  1. Everyone has Gifts: each person in a community has something to contribute

  2. Relationships Build a Community: people must be connected in order for sustainable community development to take place

  3. Citizens at the Centre: citizens should be viewed as actors—not recipients—in development

  4. Leaders Involve Others: community development is strongest when it involves a broad base of community action

  5. People Care: challenge notions of "apathy" by listening to people's interests

  6. Listen: decisions should come from conversations where people are heard

  7. Ask: asking for ideas is more sustainable than giving solutions

"There is nothing extraordinary about Asset- Based Community Development (ABCD).

It’s as ordinary as looking out for your family, your neighbours, your environment. Or extending a hand to people who are down on their luck, struggling or vulnerable. Or banding together with others to fix a common challenge."

- Al Etmanski




“The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

—Alexis de Toqueville


 A neighbour is connected to people. A neighbourhood isn't a place. A neighbourhood is a culture that calls forth the contributions of the gifts of the people who live there."

—John McKnight, Founder and co-director of Asset-Based Community Development Institute