It is a great pleasure to offer this volume from Michael J. Nakkula, Karen C. Foster, Marc Mannes, and Shenita Bolstrom as the latest in the Search Institute Series on Developmentally Attentive Community and Society. Its importance to the series and this ?eld of inquiry and practice is readily evident in its title, Building Healthy Communities for Positive Youth Development. Since the early 1990s, Search Institute has invited and encouraged communities of all shapes and sizes to use its framework of Developmental Assets and principles of asset building to create strong, vibrant, and welcoming communities for children and youth. We have operated largely at the grassroots level, encouraging innovation and adaptation around a shared vision, rather than proposing a program or model for replication. We seek to learn as much from the communities as they learn from us. This book offers in-depth case studies of what happened in eight diverse c- munities that took up our invitation. In them, we see a wide array of strategies and approaches that, on the surface, seem to have little coherence. But, as Nakkula and colleagues found, underlying each of these distinct efforts was a deep commitment to transforming the social norms of community life to more effectively attend to young people's healthy development throughout the ?rst two decades of life. There have been many ambitious efforts aimed at comprehensive community change on behalf of young people.
Building Healthy Communities for Positive Youth Development comes to us during a time when many are calling for significant school reform and worrying about growing rates of school dropouts and cases of bullying and youth suicides. Whereas many schools are instituting antibullying programs or dare to care suicide prevention efforts or offering alternative programs for students at risk of dropping out, they by and large follow the deficit model approach. Nakkula et al. remind us that canned programs of reform, built on a view of youths as being diagnosed with problems to be solved, well intentioned though they may be, will never prove so powerful as that group of committed individuals-the religious leaders, the teachers, the business owners-who can reflect on their deeply held beliefs and then thoughtfully act in new ways that support healthy development of our youths and our communities. - Ellen L. Nuffer PsycCRITIQUES - July 27, 2011, Vol. 56, Release 30, Article 6