“So many people care” – Making the Invisible Visible part 2

“So many people care” – Making the Invisible Visible part 2

By Wendy McCaig, Executive Director When we asked her “What surprised you this week?” Dominique said thoughtfully, “That so many people care about my neighborhood.” After just four interviews with residents in her Lincoln Mews apartment complex, Dominique is starting to catch a glimpse of how this simple process of listening to her fellow residents could lead to community change. Each week our Embrace team meets individually with our seven Dream Catchers teams and they report out what they are learning through their interviews.  As I have listened to the hidden hopes and dreams of these neighborhoods being revealed by these young people, I have been overwhelmed by the depth and insights our young dream catchers are bringing into their observations. The most moving story last week was shared by Joseph.  Like Dominque, Joseph was able to name a pattern that was emerging in his interviews.  He had several residents express the desire to care for the elderly in the community. He then told us about a senior adult he met while interviewing.  She had 22 grandchildren, several of whom were at risk of being removed from the home due to inadequate housing.  This concerned grandmother had been giving a significant portion of her fixed income to support her family.  As a result, her home had fallen into disrepair. Joseph said, “It is just sad that she does so much for others but no one is helping her.” Joseph was impressed by the stories he heard from the senior adults in his community.  “One lady raised 40 foster children,” he said. “ I can’t even imagine that.  I am...
Discovering the Assets: Making the Invisible Visible Part 1

Discovering the Assets: Making the Invisible Visible Part 1

This post first appeared at Wendy McCaig’s website “ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) is not our idea.  ABCD is like taking a picture of what is and then making it visible to others.”  John McKnight Throughout the ABCD Festival in the UK, this theme of making the invisible visible kept emerging. I first heard it from John McKnight, the founder of the ABCD movement.  McKnight described the discovery of community assets as a way of making the invisible assets found in every community visible, a process  also known as “asset-mapping.” McKnight said: “An asset is something that if invested wisely can go from very small into something big.” John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann studied more than 300 neighborhoods and collected more than 3,000 community stories before publishing their findings in the book, “Building Communities From the Inside Out” more than 20 years ago. They found healthy communities using  one or more of five types of assets to strengthen the community.  McKnight summarizes these assets as: The gifts of individuals The power of associations The support of institutions The land and physical assets The systems of exchange John McKnight invited us to add to the asset list.  He shared that others have added a sixth category: The heritage captured in story, music, art, and other forms of culture and tradition Like McKnight, I believe the gifts of the individuals in the community are often the hardest to see.  McKnight shared these four asset-mapping questions that are helpful in making the invisible gifts of individuals visible: What is your most significant gift? A gift is something you are born with. What is...
From the Director: We Are Expanding!

From the Director: We Are Expanding!

This past January, our board began a strategic planning process.   Through that process, it became clear that our shared desire was to expand the number of neighborhoods benefiting from an asset based community development approach. This desire led us into a season of prayer that ultimately led us to the season we are in now – one of tremendous expansion. As we began looking at the resources that it will take for us to be effective in this new work, we recognized that our current financial commitments were limiting our ability to grow our capacity.  For this reason, we began seeking to lower our facilities cost. As we prayed, God began opening up doors to new neighborhoods and led us into relationships with both congregational partners as well as new neighborhood leaders who are looking to start new or adapt existing ministries to an asset based approach. The wonderful part of all our conversations over the past few months is the number of doors that have opened up to us offering us free space.  Yes, free.  For the past 18 months, we have been spending an average of $1,000 a month on rent and utilities for our current space on Brookland Park Blvd, which honestly has a number of factors that are limiting our effectiveness.  What grew out of our season of discernment is a plan that will free up enough financial resources to allow us to expand into a number of new neighborhoods. Today, I ask you to say a prayer of blessing over the following north side organizations / congregations who have offered us use of their...
What a Year!  What's Next?

What a Year! What's Next?

Dear Friends, We want to thank all of you who have prayed for, served alongside and provided financial support to Embrace Richmond and the local leaders we support.  It costs an average of $5,000 to launch each neighborhood initiative Embrace supports.  In 2013 Embrace supported more than twenty on-going community initiatives. Our goal is to identify leaders, provide training and one on one coaching, connect leaders to support systems and ultimately release the neighborhood leaders to continue the community development efforts in their neighborhood.  During the past year we have celebrated some monumental achievements in our work.  If we were writing a book, we would call the 2013 chapter “Releasing the Dreamers. Our “releasing” efforts began in Hillside Court with the creation of the Hillside Court Partnership. HCP is now the lead organization governing the community development efforts in Hillside Court.  HCP consists of six resident leaders and nearly a dozen organizations who support nine community initiatives.  These initiatives mobilize 40+ neighborhood volunteers and touch the lives of hundreds of individuals every month.  Learn more about the Hillside Court Partnership here.  We continued the process of “releasing” through our partnership with Northminster church.  The four initiatives that Embrace helped to launch, which include The Better Together Food Coop, The Life Together Advancement Center,  Community Garden and the Summer Rec Program are now fully operated by neighbors working in partnership with church leaders. This example of a church doing ministry “with” its neighborhood is serving as a model for other churches across the nation.  Watch this video to learn more. We are also celebrating the “releasing” of our dear friend Charles...
What a Year!  What’s Next?

What a Year! What’s Next?

Dear Friends, We want to thank all of you who have prayed for, served alongside and provided financial support to Embrace Richmond and the local leaders we support.  It costs an average of $5,000 to launch each neighborhood initiative Embrace supports.  In 2013 Embrace supported more than twenty on-going community initiatives. Our goal is to identify leaders, provide training and one on one coaching, connect leaders to support systems and ultimately release the neighborhood leaders to continue the community development efforts in their neighborhood.  During the past year we have celebrated some monumental achievements in our work.  If we were writing a book, we would call the 2013 chapter “Releasing the Dreamers. Our “releasing” efforts began in Hillside Court with the creation of the Hillside Court Partnership. HCP is now the lead organization governing the community development efforts in Hillside Court.  HCP consists of six resident leaders and nearly a dozen organizations who support nine community initiatives.  These initiatives mobilize 40+ neighborhood volunteers and touch the lives of hundreds of individuals every month.  Learn more about the Hillside Court Partnership here.  We continued the process of “releasing” through our partnership with Northminster church.  The four initiatives that Embrace helped to launch, which include The Better Together Food Coop, The Life Together Advancement Center,  Community Garden and the Summer Rec Program are now fully operated by neighbors working in partnership with church leaders. This example of a church doing ministry “with” its neighborhood is serving as a model for other churches across the nation.  Watch this video to learn more. We are also celebrating the “releasing” of our dear friend Charles...