We regularly interview leaders, volunteers, donors, and others in our generous Great Lakes Urban community. Below, check out a snippet of our conversation with Ken Genzink, CEO at Code Blue and Chairman of our Great Lakes Urban Board of Directors.
Ken, what is it about Great Lakes Urban’s mission that attracts you?
It’s the methodology. In my opinion, the best way to help people in the long term is to help them help themselves. Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is about helping people discover their own gifts and utilize them to become leaders in and contributors to their own neighborhood’s success. Neighbors who are engaged, connected, and work together on things they care about are “the one thing that positively affects 20 things” in their neighborhood and the community in which they work and live.
Can you share what motivates you to give to the organization in terms of your time, talent, and treasure?
It’s the return on investment. ABCD is a powerful concept with a tremendous ROI, or return on investment. Unfortunately, it is not well known, well understood, or well supported. Great Lakes Urban is working to change that. Having said that, the City of Holland understands and supports it very well and has made it part of their strategy for Flourishing Neighborhoods. Being part of a small organization that provides structure and support for other cities that want to adopt these methodologies is very rewarding.
What is your hope, your vision, for the future of the work?
Great Lakes Urban is a small organization with a big vision. Our goal is not to build an organization, but to support the ABCD Movement across North America, sharing what we have learned from the successes here in Holland, MI. Our experience, confirmed by extensive research, is that neighborhoods with ABCD Coaches and Neighborhood Connectors are better able to get their neighbors to work together to improve their own quality of life for themselves and each other. Every dollar that you invest in Great Lakes Urban helps to equip and support ABCD Coaches and Neighborhood Connectors locally or in some other city in North America. My hope is that, with Great Lakes Urban’s help, this ABCD Movement is embraced by neighborhood and city leaders across North America as a strategy for their own flourishing communities.
Thank you, Ken, for sharing, and for contributing to our ambitious vision!