Praise is a powerful incentive. Is there someone you know who is rough and aggressive? My advice: look for the one moment in which they are gentle and make a point of praising them for it. Not just a passing comment either, but with detail about how and why it was good and the impact it had on others. In my experience that kind of praise will encourage increased gentleness in their life far more than staging an intervention about their aggressiveness.
So it really shouldn’t have surprised me that the same principles are employed in community development work. Instead of telling negative stories about what’s wrong with a community – poverty, drugs, selfishness – focus on the positives. Identify what’s good about your community. In the industry, it’s called “Asset Based Community Development” or ABCD.
The assets your community has could be environmental (like a beach or a mountain) or physical (like a shopping mall, a church building, or a nightclub), they could be skills (a couple of builders or counsellors), they could be events (an annual Christmas fair) or they could be intangible. Note them down – create an ‘asset map’. And get focussed on what good things you’ve got to work with. Don’t get stuck on trying to ‘fix’ what’s wrong.
The principle – working to your strengths – works for communities, churches, and people. I’m going to give it a go!