Deb Wisniewski
Greetings! I'm a connector... I love to help people connect to each other, to share their ideas and to get involved in in their communities. I'm also a Faculty member of the ABCD Institute and a co-founder of ABCD in Action.

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what are your gifts and talents?:

Connecting people, ideas, communities

why do you want to join abcd in action?:


World Book Night US 2014

By Deb Wisniewski, 2013-12-10

I participated in this in 2013 and loved it! So cool to give out free books to folks The Deadline to sign up to be a book giver is Jan. 5th. Learn more about this...

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who dont regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: Its about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of waysthrough the sharing of stories.

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Dear ABCD in Action Member,

Last week Justine Jente joined our community. Justine is a Chicagoan with a background in urban history, fundraising, marketing, community building and arts.

She spent the past 10 years doing fundraising and marketing at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Introduced to ABCD by Institute Faculty member Luther Snow, Justine has been inspired to take an asset-based approach to work and life ever since. She is excited to put her creativity, collaboration and project execution skills to work in leveraging resources and building community.

When Justine joined ABCD in Action, she was the 1,000th member of our community! We are now a community of over 1,000 people from 46 countries! Since ABCD in Action was founded, we have had over 28,000 visits from people looking for ideas, sharing great stories, or engaging in discussions.

Our community is full of fascinating people doing amazing work in their communities. Right now there are active discussions exploring:

and more!

ABCD in Actionisyourcommunity - a place where we can learn together and from each other about how to apply the principles and practices of Asset-Based Community Development. Please join the discussion and tell us how you draw upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.

In Celebration,

Deb Wisniewski & Ron Dwyer-Voss

Co-Founders, ABCD in Action

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New Year's Resolutions vs. Intentions

By Deb Wisniewski, 2013-01-04

Happy New Year to everyone....

Each year, I hear a lot about New Year's Resolutions. And each year I feel like I'm setting myself up for failure. Will I lose weight/stop smoking/eliminate my debt/whatever? And each of those seems focused on my current failings or things that aren't working well for me up to now. What do I need to fix? What's wrong with me now?

On top of that, resolutions seem to be part of a pass/fail system... Either I succeed or I fail at them - doesn't leave much room for effort, does it?

So what if we thought about New Year'sIntentionsinstead? For me, intentions help me in two ways. First, I can think about an bigger outcome for myself rather than a more narrow resolution. So if my resolution would be to lose weight, I can ask myself why. Why do I want to lose weight? It might be that what I really want is good physical health. If I make good health my intention, then I can succeed whether I lose a few pounds, start riding my bike, eat veggies, or any combination of these.

Focusing on Intentions can help me focus on the process, while having a positive outcome in mind. I now can pay attention to what I am doing in my life that is working, what I can build on to get the outcome I have in mind. And all my efforts count toward success. Sounds very "ABCD-ish" to me...

So what do you think? What are your intentions for the New Year? I want joy in my life, good health, great work, and meaningful relationships. Now those intentions make me happy just thinking about them!

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Ted Smeaton, Rest in Peace

By Deb Wisniewski, 2012-09-06

This message was shared with us by our friends and colleagues from the ABCD Asia Pacific Network:


Dear ABCD friends and colleagues,

In following up on our brief notification of the passing of Ted Smeaton, Director of Inspiring Communities, Founding Member & Chairperson of the ABCD Asia Pacific Network, Faculty Member of the ABCD Institute of the Northwestern University, Chicago and the Principal Facilitator for the National Asset Based Community Development Facilitators Training Program, we would like to share a tribute and celebration of Teds work, passion and life.

On the 7th of August, Carolyn Smeaton, Teds wife advised the following on Teds Facebook page:

It is with immense sadness and grief that I let everyone know that Ted suddenly and unexpectedly passed away yesterday. Ted's daughters and I send our sincerest thanks and best wishes to Jim Diers who was with us at the time and was an immense support. I would like to urge everyone to hug the people they love as much as they can, and in honour of Ted to help out someone who needs assistance, in whatever way you are best able to.

Thank you for your care and support


Ted was a champion! Of his community work, theres not many people, who met him, who would say they didnt leave a workshop or a conversation with Ted without discovering a piece of gold, a gem, a positive step forward in their own pursuit to inspire the people and communities around them

To celebrate Teds life and the valuable contribution he has made to many people around the world, we would like to reflect on the amazing legacy he has left to us all.

Ted had over twenty years experience in strength based community building, organisation and policy development before establishing, his future lifes work, Inspiring Communities. Within this twenty years, Ted was a committee member, chairperson, advisor, convener, Honorary Member, Associate, Lecturer and founding member of over 20 Boards, Councils, Centres and Corporations throughout Australia and more recently, the world.

Teds lifes work was firmly planted in the belief that everyone should feel included, safe and have a sense of belonging. His early work in the areas of Disabilities and Indigenous communities clearly carved a path towards his future advocacy and strengths based practices work.

Ted believed in the POWER OF THE PEOPLE and enthusiastically worked towards supporting others to see and believe this power in themselves!

Ted trained, workshopped, mentored, engaged, developed, networked, implemented, facilitated, reported, reviewed, evaluated and ultimately CHANGED the way people viewed the world, for a future, where he believed, we would all be part of a truly, inclusive society.

Ted was a bold man who willingly pushed boundaries and challenged peoples thinking when searching for answers to a range of issues in community work. He had a great sense of humour and was more often than not, seen with a genuine smile on his face.

Whilst Ted was a sincere advocate of community well-being and a critical global thinker, above all, Ted was the beloved husband of Carolyn and father of daughters, Bec and Emma. Teds family has requested that in lieu of flowers, a donation of time, money or assistance to the community organisation of your choice in honour of Ted would be appreciated.

The legacy Ted has left us all through both his love of family and his commitment to building communities & a civil society will continue to grow Ted will be greatly missed!

Click on this link to view a great interview Ted recorded recently about his current work and passion:


TED SMEATON 6th August 2012

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Executive Director for Communities First Association in Holland, MI. Fulltime position providing leadership and direction for national, faith-based association focused on developing neighborhood based leadership and change through an Asset Based Community Development strategy. Critical areas for outcome/impact activity include systemic justice change, national collaborations, building board and organizational capacity and building donor relationships.

Qualifications include BA or MA degree in leadership, management, community development, or related fields and three years experience in program leadership, administration, fund development and supervision. Send cover letter and resume via e-mail to CFA Search Committee c/o Bill Raymond at by July 6, 2012. For more information please see

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Wisconsin: Thank you

By Deb Wisniewski, 2011-02-26

Because of the events in Wisconsin these past two weeks, I'm moved to write this thank you letter....

Thank you.

To the teachers, the firefighters, the nurses, the doctors, the students, the TAs, the professors, the businesses, the people who push papers and those who push brooms, the city employees, the county staff, the state workers, the workers from all walks of life.

To the youth, the seniors, the people with disabilities, the workers of all ages & abilities who stood up for themselves and each other. To those who stood up for us.

To the people who care about unions, pay & benefits, Medicaid, BadgerCare, SeniorCare, power plants, privatization.

To our families, our friends, our neighbors, our daycare centers, our afterschool programs, our neighborhood centers, our YMCAs, our YWCAs, our Boys & Girls Clubs.

To our unions and the unions from throughout the country.

To the fourteen who left and to those who stayed.

To our police officers who supported the peace and the newly-trained peace marshals who worked with them.

To newscasters, local and national.

To the people who care.

Thank you.

For marching, protesting, chanting, drumming, dancing.

For Facebooking, linking, tweeting, connecting people far and near.

For telling our stories with photos, videos, poetry and song.

For organizing the rallies and press conferences in our capital and in your hometown, in our state and across the country.

For staying home with our kids, providing care for them, helping with homework, answering questions, keeping them safe and loved.

For bagels, bagpipes, pizzas and posters.

For sleeping on floors, organizing supports and food, providing supplies and cleaning up after yourselves.

For testifying, inviting media into your lives and homes for interviews, and standing in silent witness.

For teach-ins and peace-training, for meditation, yoga and the hokey-pokey.

For leaving when there was no way forward. For shouting the truth both here and from afar.

For shining the nations spotlight on the hidden stories.

For making me proud of the people in this state.

For laughing, crying, shouting, caring and coming together.

For supporting whats right.

Thank you.

No matter what the future holds, we are changed

We are changed.

We are changed.

We are changed.

Thank you.

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