Consider your community involvement strategy
In order to determine how you want to involve different people, associations, institutions, and businesses in your community in your playspace planning, you should first consider the goals for your project. These are the fundamental questions you should seek to answer through Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD):
Who are we?
How do you define your community? What geographical limits will you place (if any) on your asset mapping and identification? Will you limit yourself to the 10 blocks surrounding your potential playspace, or will you include your whole town?
What do we want? How do we get it?
Consult with the chairs of your planning teams to determine what your actual project needs are.
What do we have?
The ABCD planning process helps you answer this exact question!
Deciding on a process/strategy
Identifying community assets begins with creative group brainstorming, so one of the best strategies for planning community involvement with your project is to start with a community-wide kick-off meeting to find out what resources you have and begin getting ideas of who you could reach out to in order to accomplish your goal.
At KaBOOM!, we recommend incorporating some ABCD thinking and planning into your community playspace Design Day. Another way to identify assets is to pass out a written survey to individuals at a local PTO meeting, block party or Neighborhood Association meeting.
Brainstorming together gets the ideas flowing quickly as you can all listen to resources others have and let them remind you of connections you may have that might be able to help with a specific need. Or you could choose a more informal process of orally collecting community success stories, or interviewing individuals, to solicit the same kind of information.
One way to identify assets is to pass out a written survey to individuals. Or you could choose a more informal process of orally collecting community success stories, or interviewing individuals, to solicit the same kind of information.
A different way (although much more passive, and therefore less fruitful) of identifying assets can be to designate a public bulletin board where people can post notes under various categories for what they are offering or requesting. Categories can be pre-set by your committee, or can be determined after notices have been posted.
Who will oversee the brainstorming session and asset identification process for your community? Your facilitator should be a warm, friendly person with whom others feel comfortable, preferably the person who will be the chair of that committee so he or she can keep track of all the ideas and various resources that can be found in the community. Experience with ABCD isn't necessary, but experience facilitating brainstorming sessions is helpful.
To think about your community most broadly, be sure to involve as many people as you can in your process. Groups that you haven't necessarily worked with in the past and who may not be currently involved with your organization may actually become your biggest champions. Consider inviting religious groups, businesses (big and small), other schools or non-profits, individuals of varying ages and professions, etc. If you plan to incorporate ABCD into your Design Day, for example, be sure to invite a broad spectrum of folks other than parents and staff. Consider forming an ABCD sub-committee and having them tap into their own personal networks and invite friends and colleagues to get involved.
Timing is an important consideration. You'll want to tap into, and build upon, your community's assets throughout your entire playspace planning project. Schedule your ABCD kick-off early enough in your process so that you'll have ample time to make asks, follow up and leverage resources.