Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

Building on strengths

Every community has strengths but sometimes the problems command our attention, and it’s hard to see what is working well. By starting with your community’s strengths, rather than needs, you can start to see your community in a different light and spark action to create a better future rather than simply react to problems. Hope and optimism can grow. Here are some ways of thinking about your community that can help identify the strengths that you can build on.

The first and maybe the most important asset is the people in your community. Every person has gifts, passions, ideas and skills that can be harnessed to make change happen.

Women at Moosehide photo

Every community has organizations, groups or networks built around a common interest in sports, recreation, culture, business, or faith. These organizations are also community assets.  Building partnerships between groups is an effective way to share skills and build capacity. Developing trusting relationships that can stand the test of time and adversity is probably the most important community asset – it’s the glue that holds a community together. Working together in groups can build trust, but only if we treat each other with respect and find ways of using each person’s gifts, rather than focussing on deficits.

The physical environment is a third kind of asset. This includes the built environment – buildings and facilities like libraries, schools, halls and church basements, and roads, sidewalks and bike lanes. It also includes the natural environment – rivers, lakes, trails and wildlife. Closeness to nature may be one of our greatest assets when it comes to health and wellbeing, and the envy of many other Canadian communities. Let’s make the most of it!

Few communities have everything they need. So after looking at what you have, consider connecting with people and organizations in other communities to tap into people who have knowledge,  skills, and resources that you need.

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