If you're having a tl;dr moment, check out how I combine asset mapping, needs assessment, and a whole bunch of meta level community/facilitator skills into something called an Offers and Needs Market.
If you're ready for the backstory and more context, read on.
Back in early 2014, I was planning a simple-living event in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had 55 people across North America coming for two days of learning and celebration about things like mindfulness, permaculture, tiny houses, sustainability, and co-housing.
There were seven amazing workshop leaders lined up and they could, on auto-pilot mode, carry us for two days. But what about the 48 other people who were coming? They had gifts, talents, skills, abilities, and assets as well...right?
I didn't know the language of ABCD yet, but something intuitive told me I had to find a way to create an environment where everyone could contribute in some way. Enter Donnie Maclurcan of the Post Growth Institute – a then acquaintance and now good friend and guide.
I was talking with Donnie about my desire to have everyone be participants at the event and he casually said, "Well, you should run an Offers and Needs Market."
"An ... Offers and Needs Market?" I thought. "What the heck is an Offers and Needs Market?!"
In about a minute, Donnie explained the joyful, guided process where groups come together to discover and exchange their passions, knowledge, skills, resources, and needs. Whether for free, barter, or a set rate, people offer and need things like tech help, a place to live, or some extra produce.
It's safe to say I was intrigued. I took a blog post Donnie wrote about running the Offers and Needs Market (OANM), customized it for my style, preferred tools, and space, and ran an experiment on 55 people during the event.
I got a bunch of great feedback on my first Offers and Needs Market and felt personally thrilled by its potential in so many different contexts and communities.
Little did I know at the time, but the Offers and Needs Market was a microcosm of ABCD and my entry point into the wonderful ABCD world.
Fourteen Offers and Needs Markets later – and having seen how each exchange builds a connection, how more connections create meaningful relationships, and how the collective relationships strengthen communities – I'm hooked.
If you want to experiment with many ABCD concepts all wrapped into one activity, I can't recommend the OANM enough.
Here's my take on how to run one of your own and, if you want to explore even more, the Post Growth Institute is developing a formal training on how to integrate the OANM into your own communities, events, and groups.
For your reply: what does the Offers and Needs Market remind you of? Or how might you change it to fit better with how you like to practice ABCD?