ABCD Forum – Thursday, July 9, 2009

Plenary: Government and Donor Perspectives

Beatriz Battistella Nadas,
City Hall of Curitiba, Health Secretariat, Brazil 

As Executive Superintendent of the Health Secretariat, Beatriz Nadas is responsible for the Public Health System in Curitiba. The Secretariat provides primary health care in 137 Health Centres working collaboratively with government and community organizations using an asset-based approach.  In her presentation, Beatriz discusses her experience using an asset-based approach to community development, carried out in partnership with United Way Canada.

Building Government-Community Partnerships
Jim Diers, City of Seattle, USA

As Director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods, Jim Diers managed the development of 13 little city halls, 37 community-driven plans, 75 community gardens, and a Neighbourhood Matching Fund that has supported more than 3,500 community self-help projects. Jim now shares the lessons from his work through courses at the University of Washington; international consulting through the ABCD Institute; and his book,Neighbor Power. Through the use of numerous examples, his presentation discusses the key steps towards fostering effective community-government partnerships.
Building Government-Community Partnerships (8.5Mb pdf)

Conversations with Donors and Government
Sebastian Mathews, Greater Rustenburg Foundation, South Africa

Sebastian Mathews is program director for CIFAL, an international training centre of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research working to advance the UN Millennium Development Goals. Currently based in South Africa, he advises on development strategy for the presidency, the Ministry of Social Development and the Independent Development Trust – South Africa’s national development agency. In his presentation, he discusses the reforms that need to occur in the relationships between citizens and donors so that they can become partners, or “co-conspirators of change.”
Conversations with Donors and Governments (349K pdf)

The Dance of Deception
Tim Brodhead, McConnell Foundation, Canada
As President and Chief Executive Officer of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Tim oversees the funding of national programs that build more resilient, inclusive and sustainable societies. His presentation sheds light on the convenient dysfunctions that are inherent in current relationships between donors and organizations. He calls this a “dance of deception”: donors pretend that money is the answer and organizations pretend to believe them. He highlights the need for more horizontal and honest relationships built around mutual learning and sharing as opposed to financial resources so that real and meaningful change, as opposed to financial transactions, becomes the focus of development.

The Power of Small Grants on Community-Building
Janis Foster, Grassroots Grantmakers, USA
Grassroots Grantmakers is a network of place-based funders in the United States and Canada that are working from a “we begin with residents” perspective. The network supports active citizenship to build social capital and civic capacity at the block (neighbourhood) level and serves as an advocate and locus of learning on grant-making as an essential component of effective place-based philanthropy. Janis’ presentation describes examples of the cohesion, empowerment and innovation that can evolve from assets such as grants, large or small.

Plenary: Commentary on Group Insights

The following participants provided reflections on the presentations and group discussions that had taken place over the course of the Forum.

Anselmo Mercado, South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN), Philippines
From 1993-2007, Anselmo was Director of SEARSOLIN, but had been a teaching-administration staff member since its founding in 1964. The Institute’s work is modeled after the Coady Institute (where he studied in 1963), training development leaders from Pacific countries in Asia and Africa. In 2000, he introduced the ABCD approach into SEARSOLIN’s training programs and to the work of the College of Agriculture, Xavier University – where it has continued to be used to this day. His presentation traces the history and impact of Coady education and partnership on the work and development of SEARSOLIN over the past 45 years.

Tom Dewar, Aspen Institute, USA
Tom’s research and writing address a variety of topics including community leadership and development; the dangers of an over-reliance on professional service delivery systems to “solve” local problems and the role of mutual aid and informal networks in community building. He has also completed evaluations that have sought to improve practice and identify lessons learned from local efforts to achieve neighborhood revitalization, re-integrate formerly institutionalized (and other labeled) people into local communities; and promote strong community organizing.

Katherine Gibson, Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Katherine Gibson is an economic geographer engaged in rethinking economic concepts in the light of feminist and poststructuralist theory. She is a founding member of the Community Economies Collective and has conducted asset-based action research projects with communities in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. In 2008, she produced a 50-minute DVD on building social enterprises in the Philippines entitled Strategies for Local Development.

Andy Gordon, University of Washington, USA
In addition to teaching, Andy Gordon works with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on their efforts to provide meaningful access to information technologies in libraries in the United States. He previously served for 19 years on the Faculty at Northwestern University in the departments of Sociology, Psychology, and Urban Affairs and was also a Faculty Member at the ABCD Institute, which instilled a way of thinking that is still fundamental to his approach.