Community Asset Mapping
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe
Two community-building visionaries, Kretzmann and McKnight, introduced the concept of Asset Based Community Development back in the 1980s. It’s the idea that community development should be built from the inside out, and that starts by mapping the people, places, and programs that have been long rooted in the place.
At Cohere, we follow this same asset mapping methodology.
“Understanding the local culture and nomenclature is important for building community and delivering authentic experiences, and the way to become authentic is to partner with those who already have a role in the community,” says Todd Hornback, Cohere chief advancement officer.
Several years ago, our team was invited to assemble an asset map for the community of Centerra in Loveland, Colorado. Centerra is less than 12 minutes from Fort Collins and under an hour from Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Denver. It now has two master-planned residential areas—The Lakes and Kinston—and is a mix of agrarian and academic, culture and nature, workplaces and park spaces.
Centerra was a Loveland fixture for years but known simply as an area of shops off the I-25 freeway. Beneath the modest retail space and nearby neighborhood, though, there was a grander vision waiting to unfold. We put our heads together with Centerra’s longtime developer, McWhinney, and marketing partner, Strada, to uncover the hidden gems already in place in order to retell (and redevelop) the Centerra story.
Our team took a deep dive into community assets like institutions and physical spaces (schools, churches, businesses, libraries), individuals (civic leaders, community organizers, educators, business owners, pastors), and citizen associations (neighborhood watches, parent teacher organizations, youth groups, non-profits). We pulled up a chair at local coffee shops, broke bread with city leaders, and spent time with small business owners, all with the goal of building a cohesive, vibrant Centerra that attracts homebuyers, elevates value, and stands as a point of pride in our developer partner’s portfolio.
Strada crafted a “Certified Wild” tag and our team mapped out the local partners who could help animate and illuminate the brand of a natural, wild, and connected place to live, work, create, and thrive.
A clear connection was with the High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC), a well-respected local nonprofit focused on conserving and restoring Colorado’s native biodiversity. They secured a key spot on the asset map, and through cultivated relationships with McWhinney and our Cohere team, HPEC relocated their offices to Centerra and now serve as stewards of the community’s conservation and sustainability initiatives.
Through the partnership, the HPEC has designed demonstration gardens and an heirloom fruit orchard, a native plant nursery, and plenty of educational programs. All of these initiatives foster a wildly beautiful place and animate the “Certified Wild” brand.
The HPEC makes sure Centerra is sustainable, environmentally friendly, and a beautiful place to live and work, so the organization cares for and has input on all of the natural assets in Centerra.
We also identified natural assets like the Chapungu Sculpture Park, the largest permanent outdoor exhibit of Shona stone sculpture in the country, a hidden gem located right in Centerra. The sculpture park has all the landscape assets that are signature to Northern Colorado and is home to an expansive art installation from Zimbabwe.
After adding the sculpture park to the asset map, our team got to work drafting a blueprint for further engagement. Chapungu is now not only a stunning place to take a stroll, unwind, and reconnect, it also welcomes in the community for Centerra’s signature events, seasonal concerts, and other celebrated gatherings.
“The community asset idea is really a big part of Cohere’s differentiation. While others may be in the business of property management, we’re in the business of cultivating cohesive places, building relationships, improving quality of life, and creating lasting value, and to do that you have to leverage the asset map and work in collaboration with community partners,” says Todd.
The community asset map is by no means static. It’s revisited and revised as the community evolves. And as our Cohere team has moved from Centerra consultant to full community manager, we’ll continue to check in on the asset map as a guide to building a community that honors the strengths and passions of the people who live, work, and play there.Visit Website