CDLI Summer Meet Up - Community Asset Mapping, Aug 2018

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Twenty-five people and one dog met up on a beautiful late-summer evening to walk around Crescent Heights with people who know and love it well, and are behind the neighbourhood’s new Community Asset Map.

See their map here:

Here are key insights we shared in our conversations:

  • The Crescent Heights Asset Map is very well done. Their use of multiple facets of information allows people to engage with it according to their own interests and needs, while still building a common shared vision. [Their facets are Non-Profit/Service Organizations; Businesses; Green Spaces/Recreation; Secret Spots; Food/Drink Places; and Historic Sites and Buildings.] It’s important to have a wide diversity of people help with mapping – since different people bring different knowledge and experiences.

  • Community Asset Mapping would greatly benefit from incorporating history, insight, stories, land knowledge, and contemporary experiences of Indigenous people.

  1. At this meet-up, Adrian Wolfleg – an educator and Elder from Siksika Nation - was invited to help participants experience Crescent Heights through a Blackfoot point of view.

  2. The Glenbow is a great source of historical and contemporary information about Indigenous Calgary (free entry 6pm – 9pm, first Thursdays every month).

  3. So too are local Indigenous residents of neighbourhoods, and cultural and political organizations.

  • It’s exciting and meaningful to experience parts of communities we haven’t noticed before. And it’s exciting and meaningful to share our neighbourhoods with others. Every time we walk and talk, we see new things.

  • What if we each spent more time in our own neighbourhoods – walking around them, noticing things and striking up conversations with people we encounter? What could those simple actions do to build a sense of local knowledge and belonging, for each of us, the people we meet, and the organizations we might be part of?

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Community asset mapping tips:

  • When you’re doing an Asset Map, don’t immediately jump into problem-solving mode. The first task is just about learning, about seeing what’s out there, about having lots of open conversations with people. Don’t rush it.

  • Crescent Heights Community Association is doing lots of great stuff, related to what they’re learning from Asset Mapping. And members are willing to share their experiences with others.

  • When exploring community’s assets it important to include all of the various groups that may be utilizing neighborhood spaces such as schools, churches, various not-for-profits. Having a variety of activities lends to a sense of inclusion thereby supporting belonging and breaking barriers of isolation.

  • When mapping community spaces it is important to consider how people utilize different spaces. For e.g. do the people participating in activities live in the neighborhood or do they come from other parts of the city to participate? This knowledge can help to mobilize or get the word out.

  • Also, when mapping community spaces think outside the box – What else might this space be used for?

  • Crescent Heights Community Association highlighted the importance of considering the diversity of the people conducting the mapping exercise. This would enable many different perspectives for assets are included.

  • The process of Asset Mapping is just as important as the outcome.

  • Asset Mapping can be a challenge in large areas with different demographics so plan accordingly.

  • Encourage neighborhood service providers to get out and walk the area where they work.

  • Think about developing an asset map not just for current uses but also for future residents. For e.g. how could we record and pass on stories and assets that could we lost in the future?

  • Most of all have fun! : )

Some questions to consider:

  1. How do we include and utilize the knowledge of different community groups (cultural groups, First Nations residents, etc.) in Asset Mapping?

  2. Who is the Asset Map for?

  3. How could the mapping exercise help generate conversations in the community, get people to know their different neighbors and build relationships?

Ideas for building engagement in community – Use parking lots to hold events, map out events for the whole year so that the community knows about them well in advance, diversity in the type of events being held place making areas where people can stop and talk i.e.: chairs by free libraries, fairy doors, chalk buckets to draw something, community BBQs, Cross cultural foods.