Definition: The alternative is to develop policies and activities based on the capacities, skills and assets of low-income people and their neighborhoods. There are two reasons for this capacity-oriented emphasis. First, all the historic evidence indicates that significant community development takes place only when local community people are committed to investing themselves and their resources in the effort. Second, there is little prospect that large-scale industrial or service corporations will locate in these low-income neighborhoods (McKnight, J.L., and Kretzmann, J. P., Mapping community capacity. Chapter 9. P 159).
Apply: A capacity inventory allows for an understanding of all the assets distributed within the community. It further allows for people to become producers rather than a problem. It is essential for community development to recognize that all communities assets are not equally assessable. More importantly is to realize that people are the greatest assets in communities. Even the most marginalized individuals have rich potential. Capacity focus alternative also helps in understanding that even within the poorest city neighborhoods there are already organizations that can be used as resources.
Adapt: This is similar to time banking in that it connects community members’ capacities and talents. One can go about a capacity inventory in two ways. One possibility is to collect inventory of talents and then connecting members to sources in which their ability will be applicable. Another form, will be to collect inventory of needed skills and then connecting the needs to community members that can assist. I have seen this play out within my own neighborhood’s middle school after school programs. Children were not benefiting from the program and were instead being allowed to engage in delinquent activity. Parents were upset that their complaints were not being met and decided to go into action. These parents formed a club and went knocking on community members’ doors in order to gain inventory on which members were willing and had the skills to do the work it would take for maintenance and management of the program. After the inventor was complete the parents club managed to connect skills to jobs and successfully took over the after school program.