Cormac Russell > Archive

Thisness: Coming to Our Senses (Part 2 of 3)

Jane Jacobs' (an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist who significantly influenced urban studies) advice to communities is to stop being subservient to those with grand visions and “Do what’s right for now and the future will turn out as well as it can.”

Thisness: Coming to Our Senses (Part 1 of 3)

Try describing something you see in the place where you live without using a metaphor. Right now, I see a tree outside my window, with brown, red and green flecks on its bark. It’s leaves are being moved by a gentle breeze and shadows are casting across it at different points, changing very rapidly. Now I see the reflection of sunlight on one of the leaves of the tree, which has a dew drop that is yellow in one spot because of its refraction of the sun. On the limb of the branch above the one with the yellow hued dew drop, I see a brown squirrel, moving swiftly downwards towards the base of the tree. Now it’s on the ground. The ground on which it’s moving is…..

Wow, it’s really hard not to fall into a metaphor…

The Welfare State is an Extension of Us, Not a Replacement for Us

The Welfare State is an important extension of our human community’s capacity to care; not a replacement for it. Communities produce care (full-stop) and the systems or service world should simply be the support to that care where required, a resource to carers and not the source of care.

The Change Spectrum

I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of professional practitioners wrestle with the dilemmas that Asset-Based Community Development presents - serving while walking backwards being chief among them.

The Best Nest for Asset-Based Community Driven Efforts (ABCDE)

Society is often spoken of as if it has only two important dimensions; namely, individuals on the one hand and formal institutions on the other. What this map of civic space leaves out is everything in between: families, neighbours and friends, clubs, local business, faith communities and associations.

Should the Term Community Leader Go Into Room 101?

Part 3 of a series on ABCD 'frustrations' requiring fresh thought

John McKnight has a passion for jazz. Once a year he becomes a roadie for one week and travels on a bus with an aging “old time” jazz band. He once told me if he hadn’t gone down the road he went, a life as a jazz musician would have been a dream come true. Not at all surprisingly, one of his favourite metaphors for leaderless groups is a jazz jam session.

ABCD: It Is Not About Overt Positivity

Part 2 of a series on ABCD 'frustrations' requiring fresh thought

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) starts with what’s strong not what’s wrong, but should we be expected to always look on the bright side of life? This week’s offer to Room 101 is "overt positivity" in the face of structural inequality; when misguided ABCD practice ignores the underlying issues of power and oppression in communities.

Should the Term Asset Map Be Put Into Room 101?

Part 1 of a series on ABCD 'frustrations' requiring fresh thought

Asset mapping was never intended to be about data gathering by institutions but about relationship building between neighbours. It feels like there is a move away from this neighbourly connection, muddying the waters for thoughtful citizens hoping to grow and develop their own asset maps.

Universal Citizen Income: The Way Forward

When governments value people they find creative ways of making people even more valuable in their local economies and communities. In turn, people return the compliment by contributing to the building of stronger local economies.

It Takes a Village to Co-create and Sustain Mental Health

In last year’s May edition of the New Internationalist, Dinyar Godrej’s article A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Society reminds us that good mental health is rooted in the community and is not the unilateral responsibility of the individual. In other words people with mental health challenges are not to blame, nor, alone, are the professional systems that endeavour to care for them.

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