About us

Building blocks for building communities

  • Our purpose is to provide a ready reference for people who want to work (and play) together to make a difference in their neighborhoods.
  • We focus on communicating information that people can use to improve their neighborhoods and their relationships with their neighbors.
  • We summarize the best material that’s already out there, and try to make them more accessible (shorter, mobile-readable) and richer (f.e. by using tags & links).
  • We collect stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for their neighborhoods. (Some of us learn better through stories than through technical stuff)
  • Theory is good, but we like practice (lessons learned, case studies, best practices).
  • We try to distill the material so as to highlight ideas that have been tested, whether they worked or not.
  • With your help, we maintain a list of online libraries and resources that are available to the public, for free.

Please help improve this resource by posting your suggestions using the form below.

Blockheads

Our Blocks is an all-volunteer effort. Our current Co-Editors:

  • Allegra Williams is a community organizer and practitioner based in the greater Boston area, where she focuses on creating and expanding community networks to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods. She recently coordinated several public art and cultural initiatives, and co-founded a homeless coalition in Lowell, Massachusetts, which advocates for policy change, alongside social service agencies and homeless residents. She earned her Masters degree in Community Social Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she works as the Program Manager of the university’s Community and Cultural Affairs Office. She organized the 2010 Innovative Cities conference.
  • Brian Fier is involved in community building and development. He is interested in information dissemination, collaboration, and improving communities. Additionally, he is developing tools for connecting people to each other and to information with the intention of helping improve communities and people’s lives. One such project is Campus Dakota where he is the President and Community Developer. Brian has a master’s and bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University; his coursework was focused on the social sciences.
  • Christina Holt got her MA in Child Development and Psychology, and her BA in Community Leadership Development, from the University of Kansas. She’s the Associate Director for Community Tool Box Services at the KU Workgroup for Community Health & Development. Christina was a Research Associate at the KU Work Group, then served at Community Living Opportunities from 2004 to 2007, as Senior Administrator, Behavior Analyst, and Director of Behavioral Services and Family Enhancement.
  • Dan Rapson worked as Director of Construction at the Wake County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, then the third largest affiliate in the United States. He attends Wayne State University in downtown Detroit, and is interested in developing housing and food resources in the city.
  • Hien Tran graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in International Business. Her nonprofit work started in her early college years. She worked at Catholic Charities, Charities Housing, Girls For A Change, and the International Rescue Committee. When not at work, she bakes, gardens, reads, and promotes community development.
  • Jami Jones is a graduate of Portland State University with a BS degree in Science and Community Health.  She worked as a System Analyst and IT Business Analyst in the Telecommunications Industry before serving as Information Coordinator for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  She currently serves as Manager of Technical Support and Training at the University of Kansas Workgroup for Community Health & Development.
  • Joseph Porcelli (@JosephPorcelli) is the Chief Executive Neighbor at NeighborsForNeighbors.org a Boston based 501c3, which operates social networks that connect people who live, work, and serve in the same neighborhood, providing them with tools to communicate and collaborate. He founded The Mug Project (winner of the 2009 Green Residential Waste Reduction Champion Award), and The Nametag Project to promote neighborliness. Joseph also worked as a Program Coordinator for the Boston Police Department, where he helped develop and maintain crime watch groups.
  • Laura Toscano (@gardenvarieties) is an Operations Manager at KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of our children. She’s an advocate for unstructured play, exploration, community gardening, local farms, public art, and dreaming big. Laura has a BA in Philosophy from Yale University, and blogs about helping to save one of DC’s last truly local farms as The Garden Variety Philosopher.
  • Leo Romero (@LeoRomero) majored in History and Political Science at the University of the Philippines Baguio, and did post-grad work in Business Economics at the University of Asia and the Pacific. As an organizer, he’s worked with students, workers, tribal minorities, businesses, and NGOs. His day job is in affordable housing, as Regional Manager at The John Stewart Company, where he’s focused on working families, seniors, the formerly homeless, and people with AIDS, addictions, or developmental disabilities.
  • Neal Gorenflo (@gorenflo) is the publisher of Shareable.net. A former market researcher, stock analyst, and Fortune 500 strategist, Neal left the corporate world to help people share through Internet startups, public events, and a circle of friends committed to the common good. Through this circle, Neal met those who would co-found Shareable.net with him. In addition to his work at Shareable, Neal serves on the board of nonprofits Independent Arts & Media and ForestEthics, and is a Strategy Fellow at FAS.research and a member of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab.
  • P H Yang (@TravelFoto) is a documentarian of social causes. He was born in Hong Kong, and started his career in photography at the age of eight. Since then, he has traveled to five continents, documenting his journey in photographs. He has documented the plight of migrants and of the homeless in the US, and of  underprivileged children and migrant workers in rural China. PH supports nonprofits by, among other things, making his photographs available for exhibition, with proceeds donated to these organizations. You can check out his photography here.

While many of us work in organizations that care about communities, we don’t represent them here. Please don’t blame them for anything we might do.

Thanks to Allen Gunn of Aspiration for helping us set up and maintain this resource. And thank you Ami DarArthur CoddingtonBritt BravoGina Cardazone, Matt Garcia, and Paul Lamb for the inspiration, guidance, and support.

Be a Blockhead

This is a new project, and we need your help. The only criterion is that you’re able to write excerpts, summaries, or syntheses of good material that’s already out there, so people who want to do something about their neighborhoods can quickly pick up proven ideas to apply. If you want to be a Blockhead, please email us using the contact form below and tell us a bit about yourself, with links to sources we can use to write your bio (your blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile etc). Then register so we can give you edit rights. While waiting for us to get off our day jobs and respond to you (see why we need you?), you can read and improve upon our Style Guide.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, and why you want to help. Thanks!