cormac russell

cormac russell

intro’d to Cormac via michel shares during virus ness


taking him in here first (via cormac’s tweet):

Sustainable community development: from what’s wrong to what’s strong | Cormac Russell | TEDxExeter
Original Tweet:

Sustainable community development: from what’s wrong to what’s strong | Cormac Russell | TEDxExeter (2016): []

18 min video

The question: Can I help you? is a question that millions of people ask millions of other people every single day. What does that actually mean to help another human, or indeed, to help an entire community? I believe that helping is a powerful and often beautiful human impulse. But certain styles/forms of helping are actually doing more harm than good..

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: ‘when we do change to people they experience as violence.. but when people do change for themselves.. they experience it as liberation.’ t

today we have means to go even deeper

public consensus always oppresses someone

Today I want to present a very simple idea, and the idea is this: If we want to help people in a way that does no harm to them and their capacities in their communities, then the best place to start is with what is strong within them and within their communities, and not with what’s wrong.

75 yr harvard study.. what makes us happy.. best to lean into relationships than to self and money


just because we were doing self wrong..

ie: brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown

and in uk work of new econ foundation.. 5 ways to well being (democracy)

despite evidence calls us to start with what is strong.. we still focus on what is wrong.. caused huge harm to millions.. 1\ defines people by deficiencies  2\ money goes to those paid to provide service.. rather than those that need it 3\ active citizenship retreats  4\ communities defined as deficient.. believe outside expert/money needed to come in and rescue them

These are unintended harms. No caring professional wants these things to happen. But it’s also clear that no community needs these things to happen

4 min – another way – mcknight/cretsman – 4 yrs across 300 neighborhoods in n america.. known by sum of their problems.. invited people to tell stories of how change happens from their pov.. some 3000 stories brought a focus.. 6 building blocks: 1\ skills of locals  2\ power of local networks  3&4\ resources  5\ stories of shared lives (only listed 5)

people telling us that these are the assets that must be (focused on)

imagine if ways of helping were flipped (wrong to strong).. we would see transformation in way we’d never imagine..

already happening in leeds, uk.. ie: aging.. only way to address loneliness.. bridge between older people and community (rather than older people and other older people in need of same services)

‘what made his eyes dance in his head’..t..  ie: walking stick community

ie: cure ios city

9 min – when we label people we define them out of community.. we take some of the soul away from the person.. all in the name of helping them.. we do that to entire villages/continents.. we have to figure out a way to lift those labels.. and focus on untapped curiosities et al..t

marsh label law: group affiliation is essential for the dehumanization of ‘others’.. encourage pride in whatever noun people id as – Heather Marsh

imagine if only labeling was daily curiosity .. and we used that data to connected us locally..

ie 2 convers as infra.. via tech as it could be..

10 min – on trying to find hidden treasures in communities.. ie: frank and litter and a pirate ship.. he invited others

has to be all of us.. all the franks.. everyday

(invited vs invented et al)

via tech as it could be..

13 min – how to create demonstration sites.. that show what can happen when you focus on people’s strength.. backyard revolution coming into reality

imagine demo-ing this in a way that also models ie: money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

ie: short bp; short; et al

otherwise.. will be spinning our wheels right back to the pitfalls of helping ness (block helpful law et al)

ie: talk in 2016.. perhaps if go (let go) deeper.. would have been global revolution by now

14 min – on village ie’s: inviting people to tell what they really care about to change.. then narrowing to two issues that community took on

not deep enough.. and we have means to go deeper.. needs to be daily curiosity (ie: asking people to pick a cause from a list of finite choices.. rather than from what truly ‘makes our eyes dance in our head’ (curiosity over decision making)

kids didn’t want to go to school.. that wanted to learn how to connect w people who are interesting.. to allow them to have a life they wanted..t

begs mech to listen to every voice (curiosity) every day.. and use that data to connect us

ie: 2 convers as infra

today they are in a school not just focused on ed-ing people but having a more fulfilling life..

so didn’t listen deep enough to ‘kids didn’t want to go to school’

let go ie: cure ios city

16 min – imagine if we were able to take those stories and proliferate them.. two things that mattered most: 1\ grass roots of citizens  2\ community builder.. in each community there was a (person) that was able to *id what was strong w/in each person and use what was strong to address what was wrong..

*1\ we can go deeper than a person id ing strengths (curiosities).. and this is a perfect time to use tech.. that doesn’t judge (ie: which ideas are worth narrowing down to two) if programmed right.. will just listen to words and connect us

*2\ ‘use what was strong to address what was wrong’.. now you’re focusing on the things you said not to.. the things you said were wrong about helping .. no? curiosity doesn’t go there.. and if it does.. it does it 1/8bth at a time.. rather than 2 per community (public consensus always oppresses someone)

imagine the world if everybody who was defined as the problem secured the power to redefine the problem

great.. nicer.. but still a huge energy suck.. still focusing on what’s wrong

imagine how more inclusive world we would have

not inclusive enough.. on your ie of asking people then narrowing to two per community.. public consensus always oppresses someone

17 min – there is no two tiered society where one group w problems are rescued the other group w solutions.. there is no them/us

lilla watson (aboriginal elder/actor/educator): ‘if you’ve come to help me.. you’re wasting your time.. but if you’ve come because your lib is bound up w mine.. then let us work together’

today we have means to facil that.. to hasten those interconnections.. ie: augment that the 8billionth every day rather than 2 per community – (public consensus always oppresses someone)

we are the people we’ve been waiting for.. we are sufficient onto the challenge..



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Cormac is a faculty member of ABCD Institute, MD of Nurture Development & author of #ABCD book: Looking Back to Look Forward

ireland, uk, global –

abcd site:

Welcome to Nurture Development, where we seek to support communities to reduce institutionalisation and increase interdependency in community life.

ABCD stands for Asset-Based Community Development and it refers to a type of community development based on the work of Professors Jody Kretzmann and John McKnight.

ABCD challenges the traditional deficit-based approach that tries to solve urban and rural development problems by focusing on the needs and deficiencies of individuals, neighbourhoods, towns, villages, etc.

ABCD demonstrates that local assets (people, physical assets etc.) and individual strengths are key to ensure sustainable community development, and that people have a life of their own choosing.