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5. Strategy question 5: How to decide on ambition and assets? When thinking of strategy, and, hopefully, long-term strategy, a community cannot control every element. Actors and institutions working on larger scales co-define the autonomy of local communities and the ability to control their destiny. Results from this aspect of community context analysis, in combination with findings from path analysis, will have to set the stage for the ambition level of local strategizing. What is desirable and what is possible are different things, and strategizing means maximizing what is possible in order to minimize the gap between reality and what is desirable. If ambitions are high, the dependencies on external contexts deserve extra scrutiny, while internally, observational capacity, cohesion, and resolve will be tested. Higher ambitions entail more obstacles on the way, higher risk and higher demands on the quality of analysis. Successful strategy hinges on autonomy — however, strategy can also aim to expand autonomy, before or in parallel with other community goals. Building autonomy, building space for strategizing, is like reclaiming land, both constructing and stabilizing new terrain on which many activities can take place. Which activity will dominate in the end is still open. Strategies will be chosen later. One institution can support another, actors bolster each other, and new power/knowledge configurations, in a process of transformation that keeps going until a strategy has been chosen and implemented, until a new and more powerful configuration keeps itself in place. Any successful strategy will recognize and build on existing assets, aspects, or features in and of the community that have the power to drive community development or create value in the future. Asset mapping, arguably a valuable part of path mapping, has an important place in strategizing. Assets are only assets within a broader narrative or story, wherein actors or institutions attribute value to them. Asset mapping, therefore, needs to be undertaken in connection with the (earlier) mapping of power/knowledge, in which one identifies stories that hold power and shape identities within the community. Recognition of an asset’s value at a given time can come from the outside, as in the case of the resource or resources driving the boom and bust economy. Recognition can also come from within, based on how a community uses and views a given asset. Both path mapping and strategy-building can help communities identify and take stock of their assets.

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Boom and Bust: a guide

Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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