Section 4. Talking to connectors
While community mapping and working on your asset inventory, it is likely that certain assets will appear again and again. This occurs usually because those assets have strong reputations, are often cited by other assets, or are represented in a variety of lists and directories. Typically, in a collection of 100-200 community-based assets there will be 10-20 assets that appear again and again. These assets are what we would call “connectors.” That is, they probably play a significant role in managing access to information and resources within your community.
Make a notation of those assets you feel are potential community connectors.
Each of these connectors should be invited to participate in a dedicated interview (face-to-face recommended) intended to introduce them to your asset mapping efforts, help you identify community assets that may not be known to the mapping team, and provide details that can be used to expand access to recovery support throughout the community.
Here is a sample email that can be sent for an interview request:
Re: An Interview Request
I am honored to extend this invitation on behalf of (your organization or group). Recently, we have made a commitment/received a grant to undertake asset mapping in and around (community name) with a goal of making visible the people and places that support and serve those facing or at-risk for substance use disorders. Specifically, the initial mapping activity aims to identify the people, groups, and organizations that can contribute to effective prevention, treatment, and addiction recovery efforts in our area.
This effort will contribute to (your organization or group goals). The application of asset mapping in and around (community name) can potentially aid and inform those individuals and families that are seeking help but find it difficult to understand where and how help is available. In the long-term, we hope to assist in identifying the resources we may need to fill any gaps in care or support by Transforming Youth Recovery.
Please Join Us!
Our team has identified you as a key contributor to these efforts in (geographic area) and we would like to spend one hour getting to know more about what you do or hope to do!
We would like to meet with you and conduct a semi-structured interview, which involves listening to your responses to these questions:
- How do you serve this community?
- When people come here, what do they experience?
- On first contact with you or this organization, what should someone expect?
- What populations do you typically serve?
- Who gets the most value out of your services?
- What methodologies, techniques, or principles do you utilize?
- What have people done before they come to you? And where do they go after?
- Who/what organizations do you consider key contacts for you or your organization?
- And whom do you go to for advice? Or, support and encouragement?
- What types of information do you collect to measure your success or help those seeking assistance better understand your services?
- How can you imagine us working together as we work to support students in recovery?
- Who else should we be talking to?
Please let us know if you are interested in participating. Once we hear from you, we will work to find a suitable time for the interview. We are planning to conduct initial asset mapping activities from (dates). If possible, an in-person interview during this time would be preferred.
We will also follow-up in the next few days to check on your interest. Certainly let us know if you have additional questions by replying to this invitation or contacting our community mapping team (contact information).
We look forward to learning from you!
Over time we have learned that community advocates can play an important role in helping you arrange for interviews. Often times, an advocate can assist with introductions and step in when you may be struggling with responses to interview requests.
Each opportunity you have to conduct an interview is a chance to work collaboratively to build pathways to important resources in the community. Here are a few relationship-building questions that focus a conversation on strengthening access:
- When do people call you?
- How do they engage or get started?
- And, what do they do next?
The interviews you conduct can also begin to reveal the connected network of people and providers that are working each day in the community to help people live their best lives. This insight can be initially gained by paying attention to how those being interviewed answer a few additional questions you may wish to ask:
- Where do you go for advice when making an important decision?
- And, where do you go for support and encouragement?
It is from responses to these questions that you can begin to identify those people and organizations that can really help advance capacity-building efforts across the community.
After your interviews are done, you can add to or update your asset inventory—either before submitting for publication or after publication by editing resources already published.