Where other people see problems in an inner city neighborhood, John McKnight sees assets. McKnight is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University, an author and co-creator of Asset Based Community Development. He visited the Fox Cities recently to check out Neighborhood Partners, a project that seeks to build on the assets of the central Appleton neighborhood that includes Columbus School and Arbutus Park.
More than 15 nonprofits, businesses and government agencies have signed on to a partnership to offer residents the resources they need to grow their own healthy food, make their landscape more environmentally sound and cut their energy use. Your Community Foundation is pleased to have initiated and provided a $55,000 grant for this experiment in neighbors renewing their neighborhoods.
McKnight sees valuable assets in the skills of the people in the neighborhood and the associations they form to do good for their community … assets with greater potential than any government or institutional program. To find those assets, he said, you just need to ask people about them. He cautions that this work is “hand-tailored,” not mass-produced. It requires talking to people one-on-one.
That’s what this project is going to do. It will cost some time and money, but the Fox Valley’s safe, livable neighborhoods are a valuable asset worth protecting. We warmly invite more partners to join in this effort and help neighbors renew their neighborhoods, one neighborhood at a time.
Curt Detjen is president/CEO of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. Email him at [email protected] or call 920-830-1290.