“When Trying to Solve Problems Does Not Solve Problems: Rev. Bill Stanfield at TEDxCharleston” is a convincing 12-minute TED Talk video for everyone working toward positive community development. Stanfield’s approach, summarized in the graphic above, is persuasively explained in the video.
Instead of focusing on problems, Rev. Bill Stanfield presents a compelling case that “philanthropy should focus on discovering and investing in the assets of particular individuals and neighborhoods.” He strongly believes in Asset Based Community Development that is driven by the people and organizations in the community. They know know the issues best, and represent the essential fabric of the community.
In his approach, Stanfield certainly takes community problems seriously.Yet his method goes beyond simply identifying problems, and then funneling dependency-creating aid into the community to relieve the symptoms. It examines the problems and looks for available community assets that could, if given proper investment with the residents’ buy-in, solve the problem itself.
Stanfield’s points compliment those made by Robert D. Lupton in his must-read book Toxic Charity. Lupton argues that “unexamined generosity” can become toxic when “people full of compassion forget the fundamentals when it comes to building relationships with those they attempt to serve. Forging ahead to meet a need, we often ignore the basics: mutuality, reciprocity, accountability.”
Stanfield’s approach and Lupton’s book taken together offer a primer for all who want to “do good” to help communities “do well.”
Don Shaw, Jr.
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