In recent years, we’ve seen a number of interesting new community development models being used out in the field. I’ve had good fortune to use the WealthWorks approach on a number of projects, and you can count me as a big fan. To briefly summarize, WealthWorks is an asset-based community development strategy that helps region to understand their assets (forms of community wealth) and to help grow and retain assets that remain anchored in the community. Economic developers all focus on building some kind of wealth, normally in the form of money or jobs. But, the WealthWorks approach is more holistic, and more focused on building local resilience and capacity. It does not just emphasize financial wealth, but instead has a holistic view that communities should focus on multiple forms of wealth. These include the Eight Capitals: Intellectual, Financial, Natural, Cultural, Built, Political, Individual, and Social. This broader vision of capital allows communities to better understand community assets and to find new ways to engage these assets.
My very brief summary does not do justice to this methodology, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to do so. You can now tap into a new book on WealthWorks: Wealth Creation: A New Framework for Rural Economic and Community Development. This is an excellent one-stop guide for how the Wealth Matrix works, and how it can be applied in real world situations. If you’re looking for new ways to advance your community, this book and the useful WealthWorks website are well worth your time. I have found this approach to be helpful in my own work, as it helps communities view themselves with a fresh perspective and an effective framework for action.