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What’s Strong With You – What does a healthy community look like?

Jamie Furness    March 16, 2023    2 min read   

By Paul Jackson – What’s Strong With You?

When it comes to addressing the challenges of living together in community, there are many ways to get stuff done. Some will move us toward a healthy, flourishing community and others away from it. I’m not primarily talking about what gets achieved here but how it gets achieved.

This monthly column draws on and aims to communicate an approach to community development called Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). ABCD focuses on the abilities and potential of individuals within a community rather than their problems or deficits by discovering, empowering and activating them to do the things they care most about.

Below is a list of attributes that either help or hinder community health and flourishing. I’m guessing that we are all guilty of acting out of the unhealthy column more often than we’d like but what two or three attributes from the healthy column could you be more intentional about bringing to your community interactions this month?


(According to Bruce Adams of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change) 

Focus on unification Focus on division
“We’re in this together”“Not in my backyard”
Solving ProblemsSolution wars
ReconciliationHold grudges
Consensus buildingPolarisation
Broad public interestNarrow interests
Win-Win solutionsWin-Lose solutions
Tolerance and respectMean-spiritedness
TrustQuestioning motives
Politics of substancePolitics of personality
Empowered citizensApathetic citizens
Challenge ideasChallenge people
Problem solversBlockers and blamers
Individual responsibilityMe-first
Community discussionsZinger one-liners
Focus on futureRedebate the past
Sharing powerHoarding power
“We can do it”“Nothing works”
A group of women collect rubbish at a local park. Their actions represent a strong community mindset.
Strong communities can achieve strong positive outcomes when everyone works together and has a positive mindset.
Photo by Ron Lach.
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Jamie Furness