The Princess Bride and Asset Based Community Development

When channel surfing, I came across a classic, The Princess Bride. It was toward the end where we realize Wesley is only mostly dead and the story can still end with a happily ever after. The point that resonated with me and so beautifully connected with ABCD was when Fezzik, Inigo, and Westley are on the bridge, looking at the guards about how to go rescue Buttercup from marriage to the awful Prince Humperdinck. We see displays of different gifts, asset mapping, mobilizing the assets, and valuing the gifts and skills of others.

In this scene, we are presented with gifts of the hand, the head, and heart that each character possesses, as well as with a clear display of honoring and valuing the skills that each of them have. We see gifts of the hand: Fezzik’s strength and Inigo’s ability with the sword; gifts of the head: Westley’s ability to plan their entrance into the castle; and gifts of the heart: Fezzik’s friendship, Inigo’s passion for his father, and Westley’s (quite literally) undying love for Buttercup. Fezzik is also a supreme motivator and cheerleader, seeing the glass half-full even when they seem to be encountering impenetrable obstacles. He tells Westley he is proud of him for wiggling his fingers since he has been mostly dead all day. The characters are all on different missions: Inigo is out to avenge the death of his father, Westley’s is to save his one true love, and Fezzik seems to be there just to show the qualities of a good friend. Even though they all were working on separate end goals, they realized the benefit of working together and using each others assets to achieve their missions.

If you’re new to ABCD, this scene is perfect for a first understanding of the different components. Westley even asks for a list of the “assets”, engaging us in asset mapping from the beginning.

As they prepare their plan for entering the castle, Westley laments that they need a wheelbarrow. Fezzik exclaims that they have one — assets are everywhere around us and often easy to miss. In addition, it is important for us to engage everyone in the asset gathering process to see what people value. Fezzik even exclaims at the end that only together could they “win”.

This is a simple display of ABCD, but a beautiful demonstration of the success that mobilizing assets can have. The relationships between the characters might not have started out so positive as they were attempting to kill each other, but shows that by honoring the gifts that we all bring to the table we can achieve our goals and be better together for it.