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The Abundant Community Initiative Edmonton

Submitted by Community Animator on February 12, 2015 - 10:14am
An Article by Kim Hopes

Inspired by John McKnight and Peter Block’s book, “The Abundant Community,” Howard Lawrence undertook a pilot project called the Abundant Community Initiative in Edmonton, Canada in January 2013. Howard started with the idea that local residents have gifts, skills, abilities and knowledge and that they are willing to contribute these assets to improving their neighborhood. He also understood that creating more connections among neighbors through shared activities and interests would increase relational networks, grow the neighborhood’s positive sense of self and, in so, increase its ability to work together towards a common good. It was his belief that if assets were connected, and neighbors formed new groups and associations, the rise in neighborliness would improve public safety and health, increase inclusion, boost the local economy and create new opportunities for neighborhood children and seniors.

Initially, he prepared an introductory document that provided a project description, of the purpose, potential, process, and benefits of the Initiative. (Exhibit A attached.) Lawrence then approached the officials of the City of Edmonton and sought assistance in developing the project. He met Harry Oswin, Director, Office of the Northeast District of the Edmonton Neighborhoods, Parks and Community Recreation branch of Community Services who was able to secure a $15,000 grant to get the project underway. A strong partnership developed between the neighborhood leadership and the municipal officials. The city provides administrative and organizational support and became a dedicated partner in seeing that the initiative grew in a sustainable way.  

Harry Oswin enlisted the help of Anne Harvey, the City of Edmonton Northeast District Community Recreation Director, to work with Lawrence and help guide him through the city process. Harvey has continued with the project, assisting Lawrence with the evaluation of the initial neighborhood pilot project.

To begin the project, Howard Lawrence chose his home community, the Highlands neighborhood of Edmonton. The plan was to start small and then expand in the second year to seven more neighborhoods. Ultimately, the goal is to include all 153 neighborhoods in Edmonton.

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