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The Importance of Stories in Community Work

Posted on March 11, 2020
By Heather Keam
storytellingAsset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is simple, usable and transferable to any community. The basis on an ABCD approach is that local assets are identified, and unconnected assets are connected by a local connector.

The ABCD approach is also simple because it focuses on 6 assets - individual resident capacities, local associations, neighbourhood institutions, physical assets, exchange between neighbours, and lastly, maybe even most importantly, stories.

But, why are stories so important? Telling stories is a universal way of sharing ideas and maintaining culture. It is a way of teaching, influencing or inspiring others and stories can help people make connections with ideas. In the article, What Makes Storytelling So Effective For Learning, Vanessa Boris explains that when it comes to our countries, communities and families, it is the stories we hold in common that are the important ties to bring people together. Stories are central to how we understand and communicate. As human beings, we are automatically drawn to stories because we see ourselves reflected in them, and we inevitably interpret meaning in stories and understand ourselves better. 


According to Rachael Freed, in the blog The Importance of Telling Our Stories, stories help our future generations because they connect the past to the present. Learning from stories honours and respects our ancestors and awakens future generations to their potential. 

It is because of the importance of stories that we have put together a compilation of John McKnight’s stories or learnings. This compilation covers lessons in his 63 years a community organizing. John’s learnings are stories as they bring to light some of the common issues or challenges that might occur when implementing ABCD and analyzing it in a way that sheds light on the issue, why it happens, and ideas overcome the challenge. 

(Image via TCK Publishing)

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Community Development, Heather Keam, Cities Deepening Community

Heather Keam

By Heather Keam

Heather is happy to be part of the Vibrant Communities team as the Manager of Cities, Cities Deepening Community. Before this position she was the Manager of Learning Services where she organized Community of Practices, learning opportunities, tools and resources for community change. Heather brings over 12 years of public health knowledge to this position.

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