Recommended resources from our Community Empowerment survey

in Best practices in community empowerment

Recap of our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

We created a page to list those resources that were recommended to us by these friends of Our Blocks who helped us prepare for the “Someone’s Done That Already: the Best Practice of Using Best Practices” session of the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp on Empowering Communities.

Thanks again to Kevin Harris, Richard Layman, Diane Dyson, Matt Singh, Christina Holt, Colin Gallagher, Lisa Palmer, Julian Dobson, Kevin Harris again, Mat Dryhurst, David Crowley, Barbara Pantuso, Paul Lamb, Rebecca Sanborn Stone, and Brian Fier.

Click on the image to see the full Recommended Resources page.

Recommended Resources

in Best practices in community empowerment

These resources were recommended by these Contributors who participated in our Best Practices in Community Empowerment project. The descriptions below are mainly direct quotes from the Contributors. You can browse all the articles in this series here. Click here to view all resources in our database, and to recommend your own.

More to follow …

Julian Dobson: Gather and share, gather and share

in Best practices in community empowerment

Eighth in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Julian Dobson (@JulianDobson) is director at Urban Pollinators Ltd, and co-founder of Our Society. He is also author of Living with Rats, founding editor of New Start magazine, Fellow of the RSA, and a voluntary board member at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. David Barrie of the British Council’s Creative Cities program said: “Behind the scenes of urban renewal in the UK, Julian is a major player, innovating social action, ideas around placemaking and bringing people together to make change in new, profitable, human ways.” Responding to my request that he share some of his favorite resources on “best practices” in community empowerment, Julian said “If I’d got my act together and responded earlier I’d say just what Kevin Harris has done – only he’s done it much better.” These are the sites he recommended for this series, and why:

Out of the Ordinary – A book by David Robinson, founder of Community Links in east London. It spells out his experience of and vision for relationship-based approaches to work with families, children and young people. The e-book is available as a free download. (You can read Julian’s review of this book here).

Incredible Edible Todmorden – A project rather than a resource, but its experience shows just what ordinary people can do to address environmental issues through the shared experience of growing and producing local food. The website gives a flavour of their vision, achievements and the reasons why they are attracting international interest.

Meanwhile Space – Another UK resource (sorry folks) but again highly relevant internationally, though the law is obviously applied differently in different countries. Meanwhile Space is a project that started with finding new uses for empty shops during the recession of 2008-9 and is continuing on a broader scale. It shows how local people can move in where retailers have failed and how temporary or ‘meanwhile’ projects (pop-up projects as they’re often known) can change the look and feel of an area and help prevent blight.

Any thoughts/stories on the practice of hoarding/sharing best practices?

Gather and share, gather and share.

Next up: Mathew Dryhurst of LikeMinded

How to build a neighborhood playground: recommended resources at KaBOOM! by Lisa Palmer

in Best practices in community empowerment

Seventh in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Lisa Palmer (@lattman) is Director for Corporate Partnerships at KaBOOM! where she encourages corporations to participate in making kids’ dreams come true by building the kind of playgrounds that inspired her to play, and dream, as a child.

Play Matters - Great ideas and examples for developing public partnerships around ensuring that children in communities nationwide have access to great places to play.

KaBOOM! Online Trainings – Online trainings and resources that teach folks a variety of topics about play, including how to build a playground from scratch to how to advocate for play in their community.  Trainings may also feature community gardens, working to Save Play, etc.

DIY Planner at – The comprehensive sections of the KaBOOM! Toolkit are designed to walk you through the process of how to create a community-build playspace. From fundraising to volunteer recruitment, the Toolkit can help you take your project from start to finish with over a decade’s worth of KaBOOM! knowledge, advice, and best practices in building playspaces.

The Toolkit is designed to work hand-in-hand with the KaBOOM! Project Planner. The new planner gives you a free Web site that helps you Plan each step of your project, Communicate with your team, Recruit local volunteers, Raise money, Get free advice from the professional playground builders at KaBOOM!, Connect with a community of people like you who are building playspaces around the country.

Happy building!

Next up: Julian Dobson

Neighborhood Problem Solver, from Colin Gallagher

in Best practices in community empowerment

Sixth in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Colin Gallagher served in the U.S. Peace Corps in El Salvador from 1998 to 2000. Since then he’d completed several local government assignments, including a civic engagement program for the City of Salinas in California. He founded the Civic Engagement and Dialogue Practitioners group on LinkedIn. A martial arts expert, he sometimes takes Community Empowerment literally. Colin writes:

Recommended resource: Neighborhood Problem Solver – Collaboratively authored by neighborhood groups, Anna Velazquez, Wayne Green, Jorge Rifa, Colin Gallagher, and Jesse Juarez, with the assistance of various staff of the City of Salinas, and the support of the Mayor and City Council of the City of Salinas, the Neighborhood Problem Solver provides a means for people in neighborhoods to address problems on their own, or jointly with their neighbors or with members of their local government. It shares key steps and guidance on how to organize and publicize, and gives easy access to local resources.

It is published on the City of Salinas website and was originally designed to be made available for a limited time in CD and print form, with training provided by City Neighborhood Services Coordinators. The current version is in need of an update, but it remains an excellent resource and is available in English and Spanish. While it is designed for people who live in Salinas, the basic format of the Problem Solver can be retooled and used for any city or locale if there is a dedicated group of citizens and and local government employees who are willing to author such a document and make it available to the public. Should you decide to develop your own Problem Solver, it is best that you engage local government and members of the public to collaborate on it, and to have it posted on a local government website. The act of working on you Problem Solver will itself enhance collaboration between local government and the public.

It’s notable that in the City of Salinas, a new Neighborhood Leadership Academy is in development, which involves the members of the public collaboratively co-creating their own curriculum and then implementing it to develop local neighborhood projects or ideas for the community that would become a reality. This sort of concept, in which the public develops curriculum, projects, ideas, programs, etc., and provides them to the local government or simply notifies the local government of what they are doing, as opposed to the other way around, is a very positive development in terms of participation and community involvement and is a classic example of where people can use something like the Neighborhood Problem Solver to help organize efforts for projects that flow out of a Neighborhood Leadership Academy.

Next up: Lisa Palmer of KaBOOM!