Dr. Mary Nelson, Peter Block, John McKnight, and other social innovators took part in this Abundant Community Conversation.

This conversation with transformative neighborhood development pioneer Dr. Mary Nelson was titled Seeing Problems as Possibilities.

Mary spoke about what becomes possible when we can see that which is more often considered a deficiency in people or neighborhoods as an asset. She also described the power of asking, “How can what is wrong here be the base for something right?”

For over 30 years, Mary has worked and lived in a community on the west side of Chicago that many would write off as a ghetto. Here, Mary Founded and Directed Bethel New Life, a faith-based community development corporation which focused on community improvement through building upon the community’s existing assets. Bethel’s accomplishments under her leadership include: over 1,200 units of affordable housing, spearheading energy efficient, transit related development (TOD), bringing jobs and businesses into the community, developing community-based and -operated housing and support for low-income elderly, community-based residential programs for formerly homeless, and a wide range of other initiatives including employment, financial education, child development and community issue organizing. Mary also served as Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religion, is a Faculty Member of the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) Institute, and a Founder and Board Member of Christian Community Development Association. She authored the handbook, Empowerment, published by CCDA (2010), as well as chapters in numerous books on sustainable community development.