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ABCD is an approach to community building that focuses on people and their gifts, their social relationships and associations first - before the physical infrastructure, programs and services offered. Here are some tools and resources to help you to apply and share these ideas with your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. 


A Conversation with Abundant Community Edmonton

Have a listen to this Tamarack Webinar on the Abundant Community Edmonton initiative with special guests Howard Lawrence and Anne Harvey from the City of Edmonton-the innovators and activators of this unique neighbourhood-building framework. 


The Four-Legged Stool

In this well written and thought provoking publication, John McKnight examines the analogy of the "three-legged stool" to describe how business, government and civil society each play a role in upholding democratic processes. He proposes that in order to revitalize our democratic institutions, we must recognize a "fourth leg" of this stool- associational life.


A Basic Guide to ABCD Community Organizing

Please read this practical guide to ABCD Community Organizing. It includes how to recognize the gifts that everyone has, how to connect neighbours, how to build associations and how these associations can help to weave strong social fabrics in communities and neighbourhoods.


How to do a Skills Inventory of Your Neighbourhood

Here is a wonderful resource is a workbook from John McKnight that walks you through how to do an inventory of the gifts and skills in your Neighbourhood.


When You Know Someone's Gift

This list "20 Things You Can do When You Know Someone's Gift" displays of the wide variety of ways—some quick and some more involved— you can use knowledge of a person’s core gift to help them build internal resilience and healthy participation in their community. There is an initial “ah-ha” that can be very powerful when a person first discovers their core gift, but that is just the beginning. The more attention you help the person to focus on their gift, the more they become aware of it’s usefullness and can benefit from it. None of these activities is “better” or “more powerful” than any other item on the list. What looks useful to you?


Great Questions: The Writing of Judith Snow

"Judith Snow reflected deeply on her experience of how community grows strong, about power in society and about liberating the contributions of people who are typically pushed to the margins of society because they require accommodation and assistance in order to participate." 

–John O’Brien, Jack Pearpoint & John McKnight
September 2015 

Judith Snow: Great Questions

Judith Snow Writings

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Publications from the ABCD Institute

These ABCD publications are developed by the ABCD Institute, as well as individuals and groups within their network. Many are available for free download by clicking on the document title. 
(These papers are copyrighted. You have the authors' permission to download and reproduce them for distribution; however, please include the title page to assure proper attribution.)

More ABCD Books here


Creating Change through Consent and Connectedness with Peter Block

In this podcast, Paul Born speaks with Peter Block about the emerging narrative of community that results when we shift our thinking from reforming what is to focusing upon the alternative we want to create.  This is done in small groups through conversations that emphasize one another's gifts.

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How to Do a Skills Inventory in Your Neighbourhood

This  workbook resource walks you through, step-by-step, how to do an inventory of the gifts and skills in your Neighbourhood.  It was developed cooperatively by the Woodlawn Organization, a Chicago neighbourhood organization and the ABCD Community Institure of Northwestern University. This tool was passed along to Tamarack by John McKnight.


The Abundant Community Initiative Edmonton

Inspired by John McKnight and Peter Block’s book, “The Abundant Community,” Howard Lawrence undertook a pilot project called the Abundant Community Initiative in Edmonton, Canada in January 2013. Howard started with the idea that local residents have gifts, skills, abilities and knowledge and that they are willing to contribute these assets to improving their neighborhood. This article provides an overview of this process and links to more resources


Creating Abundant Communities

In this podcast, two compelling thinkers – John McKnight and Peter Block – share some of their ideas for awakening the power of neighbourhoods and families, and introduce their unique paradigm which is the foundation for creating abundant communities. - See more at: http://deepeningcommunity.ca/library-topics/asset-based-community-development/creating-abundant-communities#sthash.HW5HEsc3.dpuf


Asset-Based Neigbourhood Organizing

This document provides an outline to the method followed for the Abundant Community Initiative in Edmonton, started by Howard Lawrence. Please access the full document by clicking here


Using Asset Mapping for Asset-Based Community Development

Asset-Based Community Development is an approach that considers local assets to be the primary building blocks for developing strong, sustainable communities.  Drawing on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development identifies and mobilizes existing community strengths to build stronger communities for the future. The following three resources: an introduction to asset mapping; a sample capacity inventory; and, a how-to for using the capacity inventory provide an overview for mapping community assets using a capacity inventory.


Shifting Focus: Alternative Pathways for Communities and Economies

This four-part resource kit, entitled Shifting Focus: Alternative Pathways for Communities and Economies, details the community partnering process used by the Latrobe City Council and Monash University, in Australia which involved working hand-in-hand with people who have been marginalized and assisting them to build community-based projects.  The kit includes documented examples of how positives can be found in negative situations, and can assist communities to establish micro-economic communities within their local area using people as their major resource

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Community-Based Strategies: Asset Building

The asset approach is based on the belief that communities have skills, networks, resources and energy that can be used to tackle local problems and improve the community’s quality of life. In turn, it strengthens the effectiveness of people and organizations working to find solutions to problems within the community. This helpful link provides an overview of this approach along with a number of articles, key resources, ideas, case studies and strategies.


Neighbourhood Necessities: Seven Functions that Only Effectively Organized Neighbourhoods Can Provide

This article, written by John McKnight, and published in the National Civic Review, is an insightful exploration in to what strong neighbourhoods can offer their residents.


Communities & Counterfeit: A Conversation between John McKnight and David Cayley

A 3-part interview series that took place in 1994 still resonates with us today. Hosted by David Cayley for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, John McKnight shares his thoughts on community is made and unmade. Please visit David Cayley's reflections on this and listen to the audio interviews here


No More Throw Away People

In his book No More Throw-Away People Edgar Cahn relates the parable of the Blobs and Squares to explain the co-production imperative. This video was co-produced by Time Banking UK and retells the story through animated shapes.

  Watch the Video

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Communities & Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets.

This guide to "asset-based community development" summarizes lessons learned by studying successful community-building initiatives in hundreds of neighborhoods across the United States. It outlines in simple, "neighborhood-friendly" terms what local communities can do to start their own journeys down the path of asset-based development. This guide will be helpful to local community leaders, leaders of local associations and institutions, government officials, and leaders in the philanthropic and business communities who wish to support effective community-building strategies. Download here or order the guide from ACTA publications via the ABCD Institute


Differentiating the Functions of Institutions and Associations: A Geometry Lesson

 This publication clarifies the difference between an association and institution, and the different key roles each has in Asset-Based Community Development. While the "institution" is represented by a triangle because their purpose is to provide a means by which a few can control many, and is useful whenever we need uniformity and standardization as in mass production; "associations" are flat and circular because their function is to synthesize the unique interests of each participant and their continuity depends upon the choice to voluntarily participate. Access the full paper here.




“Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.”

ABCD Institute

“Care is an alchemist in our communities, unleashing a force deep within us. It enables us to build up our social immune system.”

—Vickie Cammack, Canadian Social Innovator and co-founder of PLAN