ABCD Europe

Asset-based community development in action, all over Europe.




A Players and Facilitators Guide to playing:



‘The We Can Game’


An Asset Based Community Development


Asset Mapping Resource Game





Created by Cormac Russell, Faculty member of the ABCD Institute & Managing Director of Nurture Development 2012












































Facilitating the 'We Can' Game





The purpose of this game is four-fold. Firstly it is a fun way for a group to learn something about each other, secondly it provides an actual experience of what a capacity inventory is, and why it is useful; thirdly it provides an early portrait of community capacities and of key connectors who are not yet in the room who can connect and bring these capacities in the direction of productive action. Fourthly it create an ideal framework for discussing Asset Based Community Development


The ‘We Can’ Game is an asset based community development tool developed by Cormac Russell of the ABCD Institute and is directly based on the Capacity Inventory developed by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, pp. 19-25, from Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets, Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research (1993). This Game has been developed in direct consultation with John P.Kretzmann and John L. McKnight.
























Facilitators Guide:

The following guide has been developed as a support to facilitators. The steps suggested below were developed after playing the original game with several hundred groups around the world. However, that does not mean you can’t play the game in a way that makes sense to you. In fact we encourage you to find new and creative ways to develop and enjoy this game.

a. Facilitator invites the larger group to form small groups of 10. Each group of 10 forms a circle, preferably sitting down either on the floor or in a sit.
b. In the middle of the circle place 4 sorting cards. The ‘sorting cards’ should be used to form the corners of a square:




c. **Sorting cards should be laid as follows: #1. We can,  #2. We know who can
#3. We can't and we don't know who can. #4. What else/Who else. As you lay out the cards name out loud what you are doing. “I’m setting out the game; these are the categories we’re going to use to think about community capacities. They will help us to identify what community capacities we have close at hand.”

d. Scatter the 100 capacity cards on the floor between the four category cards, and
ask people to scan over them.




e. Using a log sheet* ask each person in the group of 10 to guess from the one 100 capacity cards how many (what percentage) will go in the We Can pile? If it helps you can give people a print of the list of **capacities below in large print. This can be done in different accessible forms so that people can play the game from their seat with support.

The log sheet will be a simple sheet with space for each group member’s
name and their individual guess. Optionally as facilitator you can create this on flip chart paper. Once everyone has made a guess post the log sheet on the wall or somewhere everyone can easily see it.


*Log Sheet (Sample)


Guess % ‘We Can’
























f. Invite the group of 10 to agree two volunteers who will act as connection spotters: their job will be to notice if groups of people with similar talents/capacities start to emerge. They will note their observations at the end of the exercise. Their job will be to say: ‘did you notice that there were a lot of people in this groups who are gifted at: DIY, Music, Gardening, Food Production?’, your job as facilitator is to create space for them at the end of the session to make such observations and to encourage the group to talk about the opportunities that present, when they do.

g. Going around the group of 10 ask whoever is happy to read out some cards to take a random bunch of cards. Here as the facilitator you will need to be very clear that each member of the group has a responsibility to the rest of the participants and themselves to ensure that everyone is supported to participate in a way that feels right for them. For example some people will want to play from their seat by reading the capacity list as mentioned earlier (as they may have difficulty seeing the cards any other way), others may wish to listen as the cards are read out.




h. Going anti clockwise invite each person who has taken a bunch of capacity cards to read one card and check with the group which category ‘sorting card’ they should place the capacity cards around. Here the sequence matters. As each card is read the facilitator will ask ‘can anyone in our group do this?’, if you don’t get a response, try noting that people do not have to be able to do it to a professional standard. If after offering this reassurance, still nobody in the group responds with ‘I can’, then go on to ask ‘Do we know anyone ‘locally’, who can, and would do it if we asked them?’, Another way of asking the question is: ‘do you know anyone who can do this and who’s good for a favour?’


As participants identify people they know, encourage them to name the person and place their name on one of the blank cards and put the name in the Who Else/What Else category/sorting pile. When people are placing the category cards down they should place them around the appropriate Sorting Card in a circle so everyone can see exactly for example what the group ‘Can Do’. 

Here’s an example:

Reader: 'Baking'...


Facilitator: Can anyone do this? Please indicate if you can do this...


Participant #1: ‘I can bake, I make a mean Vienna roll’;


Participants #2: ‘I can but haven’t done it in years. I used to do it when my husband was alive’.


Facilitator: ‘that’s wonderful thank you, is there anybody else who can bake in the group?


Facilitator then prompts the participant who read the card to place the card around the We Can sorting Card. 


If, however no one in the group can bake, then the facilitator will go on to say..


Facilitator: OK that’s fine we can’t. Do we know anyone who can? If no, place in the third category 'We Can't and we don't know who can'.

i. Once all the capacity cards read out and placed: Ask 3 volunteers to count the capacity cards around each of the sorting cards. One volunteer per category card.

j. Compare the number cards in the We Can category to the guesses recorded on the
log. Facilitate a discussion around the differences....typically there will
be a pretty big difference.

k. Now take out some blank cards and ask people what other gifts people
would like to mention that they feel they'd like share to help build up their community. Place in the Who Else/What Else category.

l. Now ask participants to name other people they know who can make contributions. Again place the names on the blank cards and around the sorting card ‘Who Else/What Else’.


m. Then ask are there any agencies, or individual professionals who make important contributions to helping people come together to do things that matter to them.


n. Now ask where are the bumping spaces, the places where people regularly meet to exchange their capacities at local level, offer some typical examples: farmers market, outside the school etc.


o. Ask each participants to list the clubs, groups, formal and informal networks they are part of.


p. Group process discussion: turn to the connection spotters and invite them to comment on any connections they may have noticed.


q. Lead a general discuss around the question: ‘What could we do with all of this to build a stronger community?’























Appendix I. Capacity Inventory

*The Capacity Cards are directly based on the work of the ABCD institute, and specifically seek to use ‘The Capacity Inventory’ developed by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight.


Below is an abridged version which lists the capacities we have focused in on. Reprinted and amended with permission of John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, pp. 19-25, from Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets, Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research (1993).



Part I -- Skills Information



     1. Care for Older People

  1. Care for the Mentally Ill
  2. Care for the Sick
  3. Care for people with Disabilities

5. Helping first time mothers

6. Breast Feeding Support

7. Preparing Special Diets

8. Exercising and Escorting

9. Fashion advice

10. Visiting a neighbour

11. Put people at their ease




12. Typing

13. Filing Papers

14. Taking Phone Messages

15. Receiving Phone Orders

16. Operating Switchboard

17. Keeping Track of Supplies

18. Bookkeeping

19. Computer Skills

Construction and Repair


20. Paint a room

21. General house Repairs

22. Knock Out Walls

23. Wall Papering

24. Furniture Repairs

25. Repair Locks

26. Build Sheds

27. Bathroom/Kitchen Modernization

28. Install Insulation

29. Plumbing Repairs

30. Electrical Repairs

31. Bricklaying & Masonry

32. Furniture Making

33. Plastering

34. Soldering & Welding

35. Heating System Installation

36. Install Windows

37. Carpentry Skills

38. Roofing Repair




39. Window Washing

40. Floor Waxing or Mopping

41. Washing and Cleaning Carpets/Rugs

42. General Household Cleaning

43. Fix Leaky Taps

44. Mow Lawns

45. Plant & Care for Gardens

46. Prune Trees & Shrubbery

47. Wood Stripping/Refinishing



48. Catering

49. Serve Food to Large Numbers

50. Prepare Meals for Large Numbers

51. Clear/Set Tables for Large Numbers

52. Operating Commercial Food Preparation Equipment

53. Bartending

54. Bake


Child Care


55. Caring for young children

56. Caring for older children

57. Care for Teenagers





58. Drive a Car

59. Drive a Van

60. Drive a Bus

61. Drive a Tractor Trailer

62. Drive a Commercial Truck/Lorry

63. Drive a Vehicle/Delivering Goods


Operating Equipment & Repairing Machinery


64. Repairing Radios, TVs etc

65. Repairing Other Small Appliances

66. Car Repairs

67. Repairing Trucks/Buses

68. Using a Forklift

69. Repair Large Household Equipment (e.g., refrigerator)

70.  Fixing Washers/Dryers   



71. Write Reports

72. Fill out Forms

73. Plan projects

74. Make a Budget

75. Keep Records of All Your Activities

76. Interview People




77. Operating a Cash Register

78. Selling Products Wholesale

79. Selling Products Retail

80. Selling Services

81. Door to door selling





82. Singing

83. Play an Instrument

84. Start a band

85. Manage a band

86. Teach an instrument




87. Needle works

88. House Removals

89. Manage Property

90. Assist in the Classroom

91..Hair Dresser




Part II -- Community Skills



92. Lead a Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts

93. Organise a Fundraiser

94. Run a Bingo

95. Volunteer for School-Parent Associations

96. Manage/Coach a Sports Teams

97. Organise Field Trips

98. Organise a street party

99. Start a Community Garden

100. Outreach in Community for inclusion


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Comment by Mario Sobczak on August 27, 2012 at 16:47

Hi Cormac

I will get back to you ASAP - I've just been tied up in a procurement process.

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