Newsletter – March, 1999

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 1, No. 3 March 1999

Spring is coming! It’s a time when we think of new things. Just as new life is budding in the natural world, so Companion Resources is experiencing the budding signs of new growth.

First, I am doing some experimenting with the right place for my site. The CR web site is now at https://companionresources.org

Secondly, I hope you’ll read about more *new* Companion Resources services below. Before that, however, I’d like to share some thoughts with you.

Deficiencies and Disabilities

Some day I will tell you more about the Jesters. For now, suffice it to say that the Jesters are a drama troupe made up of young people, ages 5 and up, who are all challenged in some way. March is the month of their annual performance at the historic Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Our usual pattern is to talk about persons having disabilities. Indeed, some tasks that are routine for most persons are difficult for each of these young people to do. But an evening watching the Jesters on stage reminds us that each of these persons has abilities as well, including some very unique abilities.

Our society has become very adept at focusing on a cure for disease and disabilities. We take pride in fixing things, in responding to needs, in addressing weakness, in focusing on the deficiencies. We have perhaps the most skilled corps of professionals the world has ever seen, each one an expert at addressing a narrow task. We have medical specialists for each part of our body, psychiatrists for our brain, psychologists for our emotions, and social workers to tell us how to get along with others. We have specialized lawyers and administrators and executives for each social problem, not to mention bureaucrats by the hundreds in city, state, and federal offices.

We all work under the assumption that the right professional can fix any problem. More often than not, we are disillusioned to discover that with all of this professional expertise, we cannot get to the root and solve some of our most basic issues as a society. Why is that? After a break, we will find out.

Assets and Abilities

The Jesters did not put on a moving and entertaining performance by hiring a group of professionals to address their speech defects, their physical deformities and their learning disabilities. As a society, we will never build up our communities by focusing professional efforts on our weakest members.

Instead of looking to the professionals to diagnose and fix our deficiencies and disabilities, all of us in the community can focus on assets and abilities! As we use the gifts we have been given as a community, we bring out the gifts of others. Loving, patient, and persistent work by many people, each with both abilities and disabilities, gave us a show. And in our society as a whole, it is by tapping the assets of the community working together that we will find a way out of the deplorable conditions found both in our inner cities and our rural towns and villages.

Many years ago, through one simple lecture and one simple article, John McKnight showed me the key to overcoming many of the social problems that plague our society. It is a solution that defies the normal political divisions of conservative and liberal, or the constant squabbling over individual vs. corporate responsibility. As a result of the ideas of John McKnight and others, “Asset-Based Community Development” (ABCD) is catching on in many parts of our continent and the world.

Go take a look at the ABCD website by following the link on the Companion Resources home page or going directly to

http://www.nwu.edu/IPR/abcd.html

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If you appreciate this newsletter, forward it to a friend and encourage them to subscribe. Visit my home page soon and let me know if I can serve you.

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Paul D. Leichty

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