Assets mapping is a strategy for
"asset-based community development" (Kretzman and
McKnight, 1993). Historically, the approach has
been to focus on a community’s needs, deficiencies
and problems. By comparison, Assets Mapping focuses
on a community’s capacities and assets. The CHIS
seeks to combine the two approaches into a single
strategy that links needs to community assets.
Assets Mapping emphasizes the development of policies
and activities based on the capacities, skills and
assets of people and their neighborhoods.
Historical evidence indicates that community development
takes place only when local community people are
committed to investing themselves and their resources
in the effort. Furthermore, in a time of budget
constraint and a re-thinking of the appropriateness
of federal initiatives, the prospect for outside
assistance is waning.
Assets Mapping is
based on the recognition of a unique combination
of assets that exists in each community. The combination
has three components: individuals, associations,
and institutions. An inventory of the gifts, skills
and capacities of the community residents is undertaken.
Capacity mapmakers identify within neighborhoods
a vast array of individual talents and productive
skills, few of which are being mobilized for community-building
purposes. Secondly, an inventory of citizens’ associations
is compiled. These associations, less formal and
much less dependent upon paid staff than are formal
institutions, are the vehicles through which citizens
have historically assembled to solve community problems,
or to share common interests and activities. An
inventory is done of the more formal institutions
which are located in the community. Private businesses;
public institutions such as schools, libraries,
parks, police and fire stations; nonprofit institutions
such as hospitals and social service agencies—these
organizations make up the most visible and formal
part of a community’s fabric. A diagram of a Community Assets Map may be viewed here
(Kretzmann and McKnight, 1993:7).
The process of Assets
Mapping can be defined by three interrelated characteristics:
- The community development strategy
begins with what is present in the community,
the capacities of its residents and workers, the
associational and institutional base of the area.
- Because the development process
is asset-based, it is "internally focused." The
development strategy concentrates first of all
upon the agenda building and problem-solving capacities
of local residents, local associations and local
institutions. The internal focus stresses the
primacy of local definition, investment, creativity,
hope and control.
- The process is "relationship
driven." Asset-based community development constantly
builds and rebuilds the relationships between
and among local residents, local associations
and local institutions.
One goal of the
Community Health Information System is to provide
communities and individuals with a geographically
oriented database of community assets. Elsewhere
in the CHIS we provide indicators and data for measuring
the health status of community populations. The
Assets Mapping component of the CHIS should provide
not only a method for constructing networks to address
community health needs but also a mechanism for
understanding community well-being.
Kretzman and JL McKnight, Building Communities
from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing
a Community’s Assets, ACTA Publications, Chicago,
© 1999 St. Lukes Episcopal Health Charities.
All Rights Reserved.