Survey Insights: How much Community Building are We Doing?

Community engagement has incredible potential. In our time of deepening social fragmentation, it can bridge differences and build common identity amongst diverse residents. It can foster a sense of belonging and cultivate the lasting connections that comprise a strong social fabric. But here’s the catch: most engagement processes don’t tap this potential. Contemporary community engagement focuses on soliciting input to…

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Across the Great Divide: Clark Anderson of Community Builders

The Great Divide

For this post we have a special treat from you. You have may have seen Clark Anderson’s name last December in the bright lights of the New York Times and MSNBC. He is the Executive Director of Community Builders, a Colorodo-based non-profit that works with inter-mountain West towns on community planning and development. In Divided by Politics, a Colorado Town…

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Beyond Authentic and Equitable: A New Trajectory for Engagement

In the 1970s, a growing environmental awareness fueled a radical transformation of the built-environment disciplines. Landscape architects, planners, and policy makers sprung into action by cross-pollinating with environmental sciences like biology and ecology. Whole new disciplines and paradigms were birthed. These new practices came to be known under the umbrella of “sustainable design.” And after decades of advocacy, research and…

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Motivating Communities to Overcome our Civic Blerches

We’re approaching the 2024 calendar page turn, so let’s get a jump start on New Year’s resolutions. The cold, sobering truth is that the vast majority of our New Year’s resolutions don’t succeed. Our brain just isn’t hard-wired to make changes based on a single commitment. We can’t simply will ourselves into new habits or perspectives. The gravitational pull of…

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The Neighborhood is the Unit of Change

Drawing of a Neighborhood Map with Arrows

During a recent ride on my local Metro bus, I noticed an advertisement encouraging me to “Get Involved!” “Take The Survey Today!” it beseeched. Apparently, our County Floodplain Management Agency urgently needed my input. I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone from my city neighborhood would feel motivated to participate in something so abstract and removed as county-wide flood plain…

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Transform your Community Meetings with these Three Easy Techniques

The third in a four-part series diving into the practical nuts and bolts of community engagement processes vis-à-vis community building and intergroup contact. How can community engagement be a counterforce to our increasing social fragmentation, polarization, and loneliness? Taking this challenge to heart will require a shift in community engagement practices. Rather than just soliciting input, we also need to…

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How to Set-up a Community Meeting for Community Building

Handdrawn name tag

This is the second in a four-part series diving into the practical nuts and bolts of community engagement processes vis-à-vis community building and intergroup contact. These will be a bit longer than my typical missives, but they’re packed full of awesome content. Enjoy! In a time of deepening social fragmentation, how do we build common identity amongst diverse residents sharing…

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How to Craft a Public Process for Community Building

Hi there! This is the first in a four-part series diving into the practical nuts and bolts of community engagement processes vis-à-vis community building and intergroup contact. These will be a bit longer than my typical missives, but they’re packed full of awesome content. Enjoy! In a time of deepening social fragmentation, how do we build common identity amongst diverse…

Continue reading

Why the Three Rings of Community are So Important.

The English language is a notoriously blunt instrument. It lacks many of the emotive words we find in other languages for complex human feelings and relationships. For example, the Danish hygge (the feeling of coziness from being inside with others), Italian commuovere (having your heart warmed by someone), or Nguni Bantu Ubuntu (being kind to others on account of their…

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Beyond Design : How to Create Public Spaces for Social Cohesion

Those of us who shape the built environment often take pride in our work creating the public living rooms and front porches of civil society. We follow the guiding light of Jane Jacob’s and her seminal 1961 book, Death and Life of Great American Cities, which extols the virtues of vibrant public spaces as an essential component of healthy and…

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