Creating Your own Asset Maps
Asset mapping is a method used in community development. It helps to identify and document existing resources such as institutions, individuals and citizen associations in a community.
It is useful to document this information because it creates an inventory that can be drawn upon for strengthening the community. It is a map of an area‘s value that helps to build a vibrant community based on its strengths. By helping a community look at itself from a place of strength, the community is better able to leverage assets to build and improve its future.
Community Sustainability Example
Here’s an example of an asset map that identifies resources that address issues of sustainability and resilience in Philadelphia.
Using Online Templates
There are various resources to use when it comes to asset map templates. Websites like Creately offer templates and services to help with asset mapping.
This map is geography focused which may look different compared to other maps. It was made using Google’s My Maps.The directions in the link will guide you to make similar beautiful maps.
Essential Steps to Follow When Creating
- Identify individuals and organizations in the community that can help you find the necessary information about different assets, such as individuals in local government.
- On meeting with local leaders and other citizens, find out the problems and concerns within the community. Utilize a survey.
- Determine a geographic boundary for the map. Decide on the types of assets such as local businesses etc. to include in the map. (See tips below.)
- Identify the physical assets in the community. These include lands, transportation systems, buildings, etc.
- Find the economic assets which should include what the citizens in the community produce and consume. Afterwards, gather stories that reflect the history of the community.
- List the skills, capacities, experiences, passions, of individuals in the community that can contribute to its strengthening.
- Identify the local associations like friends of recreation centers and local institutions such as schools, libraries, etc.
- Use an asset map template to organize this information to make it more presentable. Share your asset map with others. See the tips below for help with templates.
Develop A Purpose for Mapping
Why map out these resources? What is your goal? Remember that your mapping goal is distinctly different than the overarching goal of what you might do with the information you will eventually have mapped out. For example, your mapping goal might be to identify 30 neighborhood associations interested in developing youth mentoring projects.
You’ll notice that this goal does not concern the outcome of the mentoring projects, rather it focuses on who will be involved in the implementation of those projects.
Be Sure to Map Internal Resources
Before you begin mapping external organizations, be sure to know what your own organization has to offer. Considering your own organization’s assets at the beginning of community strengthening efforts is extremely important.
The staff and organization of your project must recognize their own gifts, and the places to utilize those gifts, before they are truly able to honor the assets of other people and community groups. Volunteers and staff produce better results when organizations encourage a strengths-based conversation about recognizing individual and group performance. Appreciative workplace environments reflect positive and proactive attitudes that will in turn be displayed through the staff working in the community.
Creating a Geographic Focus
Sometimes, the geographic focus for a mapping project can be obvious. For example, if your concern is nighttime safety in the Smith Neighborhood, you may know exactly how to define that neighborhood by certain streets, and everyone who lives nearby would agree with you.
In other instances, there may be greater uncertainty. For example, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, people refer to one area of the city in at least five different ways, depending on their experiences and understanding of the area’s borders. Names for the area include Walker’s Point, the Fifth Ward, the Latin Quarter, SoDo (South of Downtown), and South Second.
The geographic focus should be practical. If you decide that the geographic focus area of your project is an entire city, this may or may not be a real possibility. Challenge yourself to consider the practical nature of such a proposal: Do you have the capacity to map a whole city? And, perhaps more important, would focusing on such a large geographic area allow for a successful project to take place after the mapping is done?