We sat down with Mocha Club President, Emily to discuss the strategy of how Mocha Club educates local leaders in Africa & it’s all about your A-B-C-Ds: Asset-Based Community Development. Through many years of working with African friends, we have seen (and learned) how powerful it can be when you look at what you have instead of what you lack. And it’s a good way to look at life, in general!
Read along with our conversation with Emily…
How do you use asset-based community development to think holistically?
Asset based development starts with what you have instead of what you lack. It’s a perspective, a mindset, a way of thinking about the world and your place in it. This mindset creates a positive posture from which to approach any topic or situation. And its open-ended question of “what do I have?” naturally allows you to explore answers from multiple angles. Not only do you create a list of things you know intellectually, but you also use your passions as strengths and consider what you can do with your hands. This question and mindset allows you to bring all of yourself to a situation or problem and create the most holistic response.
Why focus on assets instead of problems?
Both are important. Problems arise by knowing where you want to go and what stands in your way to getting there. Equal to the creation of progress is knowing what you have to work with. “Assets” is just a fancy word for what you have. So when we choose to focus on what we have instead of what we lack, we can begin to see where we currently are and all the avenues for moving forward. It propels progress. Progress brings development – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
What transformation happens in a community when you start to look at what you have instead of what you lack?
Positivity. More than anything else, when you start a conversation with what you have – you begin on a positive note. This alone can help spur progress and development. Just like all elements of confidence and assurance, when you look at your surroundings and can see something positive – or at least start with something positive, you invite progress and development. When you consider the circumstance from all of your assets – you think holistically about the circumstance – you often notice elements of yourself or those around you that you might have missed otherwise. That knowledge can bring transformation.
Where can ABCD be used outside of a community in Africa? (relationships, self care, school, etc.)?
YOU can use this concept of asset based in anything – your relationships, yourself, your job. I am always shocked where I find it. For example, I was recently reading a course book on trauma counseling where they spoke specifically about using asset based tests to work with their clients on what they have to bring to their circumstances, not only focusing on their need or lack or trauma. I’ve talked with college students about using ABCD when determining how to split up a group project. Wouldn’t you rather ask the person who LOVES numbers to be in charge of the budget or numbers doc than the person who can write sheet music?! And with children – it works really well to build self confidence to start with what they can do and what they love to do than what they are struggling with in school. How do you work with what you have to solve the issues that keep you from getting to where you want to go.