The ‘ABCD’ of Belonging Brant
Rishia Burke’s passion for ABCD and strong, connected communities driving force in Belonging Brant’s success
Because of Community Living Brant’s strong commitment and belief in asset-based community development (ABCD), we set forth a proposal for a new and exciting initiative focused on this for Brant, Brantford and Six Nations.
ABCD uses community development as a tool to help people to have strong connections and friendships in their neighbourhoods.
In May 2020, we were successful in receiving a three-year grant funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the project called “Belonging Brant”, which was modelled after Befriend Inc. in Australia.
However, as things were getting started, unfortunately, so was the global pandemic.
Belonging Brant was asked if they’d like to postpone their project or carry on. With compassion and determination, Belonging Brant moved forward because their goal had become more important than ever.
Belonging Brant is constantly gathering information and engaging with community citizens to assess gifts, assets and strengths in an effort to connect individuals to resources, projects and other like-minded people.
Belonging Brant’s ever-present goal is to create a community where all belong.
While there is a focus on those who experience isolation, everyone in the surrounding communities is made to feel valued, heard and included through the many events, groups and projects fostered and supported by Belonging Brant.
They do this through supporting community and citizen-led initiatives. Belonging Brant is constantly gathering information and engaging with community citizens to assess gifts, assets and strengths in an effort to connect individuals to resources, projects and other like-minded people.
There have been many successful community groups and initiatives supported by Belonging Brant citizen collaborations. Currently, there are about 25 active groups that span a variety of interests and themes from cooking and art to nature and grief support.
Belonging Brant supplies snacks, beverages and supplies for these groups as needed, but the goal is to step back and let the hosts flourish and work towards making their groups long-lasting enterprises.
Further to this, Belonging Brant helps to facilitate the Jane’s Walk Festival in Brantford and Brant, the annual ABCD Symposium, and community conversations that led to citizen-led initiatives, such as Burford Connects and Paris, Ontario Residents for Community Harmony (P.O.R.C.H.).
A key aspect of Belonging Brant is asset-based community development (ABCD). This an approach where they look at what is strong in communities as opposed to what is wrong.
By focusing on community assets, they ensure not only sustainable community development but also citizen agency. They believe this form of community development helps build stronger, healthier and brighter communities with citizens in the lead.
Many have been involved with some aspect of Belonging Brant over the years, but none so much as Rishia Burke.
Rishia was the Director of Community Development and Services overseeing the project from its inception.
Her passion for everything ABCD and citizen leadership has guided this project. She helped shape the hard questions that needed to be asked and emphasized that everything should be for at least two reasons.
As the project is soaring with new groups and community initiatives each month, we want to acknowledge that none of this would have been possible without Rishia’s vision and drive for stronger more connected communities.
We extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Rishia for all her mentorship, hard work, dedication and contributions in advancing the project to achieve its many successes to date.
To learn more about ABCD, Belonging Brant invites you to the Fifth Annual ABCD Symposium: A Day of Belonging on May 31 at Mohawk Park. Visit their website at www.belongingbrant.com for more information and to register for this celebration.
Be A Newsmaker!
What If Belonging Brant Became a Lasting Community Beacon?
Belonging Brant is already a light in our community. It is the place to be. With three years under our belt and our initial funding coming to an end this October, we have the opportunity to fashion our future anew. We’d love to hear what you’ve loved about Belonging Brant, what you’d like for it to become, and what you might like to do to make that dream come true. Consider taking a few minutes to share your answers to these questions.
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