Diane Dorfman

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Asset mapping, drawing a map of what is valuable in our communities, is an exercise in community development. If you are looking for a way to begin work towards organizing local people to take an active role in the place where they live, it is a good idea to start with what you know. If you don't know the place where you live, how will you know how to take advantage of all there is to offer? How will you know how to build a strong, active community without the foundation of assets that are already right there?

This workbook asks us to sit down and think about who and where we are as a first step in getting to where we want to go. What is this community we want to develop? Is it its geographic dimensions? Its history? Its demography? Is it the town

council that runs it?The "crime problem?" The unemployment rate?These may all be attributes of a place, but they are also just perspectives. Perspectives can be diverse, and each one changes the nature of what it is you are observing. From a community development perspective, it helps to think of our communities in terms of the wealth in people, things, services, and resources that exist there. And that is what our work here is: to try to understand how to approach what we do from a positive, creative, productive perspective-a perspective that builds from strengths, resources, and assets.