Bringing people together to make things better

in About Our Blocks, Resources

15th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

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 (@CampusDakota) 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. He is also a Firefighter and Paramedic Specialist with Bettendorf Fire Rescue, and Flotilla Staff Officer in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

[Brian is the latest Blockhead to sign up to run this site, and this is his first post. Welcome aboard, Officer Fier. - Eds]

Do you want to bring people together to make things better, but don’t know how to go about it? The Community Tool Box offers detailed resources related to creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships. The resource is divided into the six areas listed below. Each section provides easy to follow information and tools for getting started on tackling an issue.

Outline for Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

This section provides a broad overview on creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships. It provides questions to consider, steps to take, ideas to ponder, and more. If you do not know where to start, start with this section and continue from there.

Outline with links to tools

Expanding beyond the outline from the previous section, this section provides many links to other resources that will help you consider different things as you work to build and maintain coalitions and partnerships.

How-to Information on Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

If you are looking for a direct how-to this is the place for you.

Examples of Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

Take a look at the following four examples of how real people and organizations went about building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships:

Quick Tips and Tools for doing this work

Do you want some quick tips and tools? Check out:

Links to other online resources for Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

Want more resources? Check out these links.

Power tools in Community Tool Box from Christina Holt

in About Our Blocks, Resources

Fifth in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Christina Holt is Associate Director for Community Tool Box Services at Work Group for Community Health and Development. She got her MA in Child Development and Psychology, and her BA in Community Leadership Development, from the University of Kansas. 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.

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

There are so many best practices and promising approaches to be shared; we have so much to learn from others who have gone before us in the work of transforming our communities. There are many wonderful web resources available to support comprehensive community develoment, as well as categorical efforts. Best wishes to those who are seeking to learn from others and create meaningful change in their own community!

Community Tool Box — Links to Databases of Best Practices – The Community Tool Box is a global resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It offers more than 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement (available in both English and Spanish).

The Tool Box exists to help connect people to ideas and resources to support their community-based efforts. Because of increased interest in using best practices and evidence-based approaches, the Tool Box offers a collection of links to free online databases that contain information on what works in addressing specific problems or goals related to community health and development.

Community Tool Box — Community InnovatorsAn abundance of innovative work is being undertaken across the globe to help communities improve their health and well-being, and there is a lot to be learned. Through the Out of the Box competition, more than 300 stories of community change emerged from 42 countries around the world.  These stories represent innovative approaches communities around the world have taken to address local issues and goals.

We hope that you find inspiration in these stories of change, and that you will check as additional stories from around the world are featured each week through the coming year.

Conditions that May Affect Success in Implementing Best Processes – This resource includes reflection questions and tools to enable “what works” to work, likely relevant to any evidence-based or promising approach being implemented.

The Community Guide: What Works to Promote Health – The Guide to Community Preventive Services is a free resource put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you choose programs and policies to improve health in your community. Systematic reviews are used to answer questions such as: Which program and policy interventions have been proven effective? Are there effective interventions that are right for my community? What might effective interventions cost; what is the likely return on investment?

Next up: Colin Gallagher

Out of the Box Prize

in About Our Blocks, Resources


The Community Tool Box is hosting an inaugural global prize contest for community innovations. The 2010 “Out of the Box” prize will recognize and honor promising initiatives from around the world that improve community development and community health. 

The Grand Prize will be $5,000 in cash, plus a free customized Workstation (interactive website that supports collaboration).  A second prize will be $2,000 in cash and a free WorkStation. 

We invite you to enter the innovations contest, and encourage you to share contest information with others doing innovative work to improve life in their communities. 

Your group’s innovation may involve activities to improve community health, education, urban or rural development, poverty, the environment, social justice, or other related issues of importance to communities. 

To learn more and to download an application form, please visit Or, for Spanish, visit

The opening date for applications is August 1, with a closing date of October 31. An international panel of judges will select Finalists. Award Finalists and their innovative projects will be posted on the home page of the Community Tool Box. Public voting will then help determine the two top “Out of the Box” prize winners; voting will close on January 31, 2011. 

Many of you are already familiar with the Community Tool Box, which has been creating and disseminating practical guidance about community health and development online since 1995. For those of you who have not viewed our site recently, we invite you to visit us at, where you will find over 300 how-to-do-it instructional modules and many tools for bringing about community change and improvement. 

If you have any questions concerning the Out of the Box Prize, please direct them to Christina Holt at

An open letter from Bill Berkowitz of Community Tool Box Re: “Taking Action in Your Neighborhood”

in About Our Blocks, Resources

I got this note from UMass Professor Emeritus Bill Berkowitz earlier this week, and with his permission have posted it here so you can share your own thoughts and suggestions. Dr. Berkowitz is a writer, editor, and core team member of the Community Tool Box, the most extensive web site on community health and development on the planet (which we featured here). His books deal with skills, ideas, personal qualities, and stories relating to community organization and improvement. Bill is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a recipient of its award for Distinguished Contributions to Practice in Community Psychology.

I’d forwarded this email to some of my contacts in the neighborhoods movement, and with their permission will be posting excerpts from their responses here as well.

Hi, Leo – Thanks very much for your April 12 note. It’s so easy to be impressed by it – both by your statement of purpose and by the people you’ve been gathering around your ideas. I surely hope your work gains momentum, takes off, and soars.

In this note, I’m sending along a concept of our own, titled “Taking Action in Your Neighborhood,” which perhaps you might reflect and comment upon.

In some ways, it’s a variation and extension of Our Blocks. Some differences are that it’s more explicitly action-oriented, and more explicitly participatory. It also structures the content by topic, rather than have the user do it via tagging. And it centralizes and gives a specific focus for much of the needed neighborhood work.

What’s here could be a rather big idea, probably calling for both synthesis of existing content and creation of some new content as well. The potential payoff, though, could be very large.

So take a look if you can, and see what you think; we’ll be very grateful to learn of your own reactions, others’ as well, whatever they may be.

We’re also very comfortable with your sharing any or all of this with your other neighborhood contacts – actually we’d encourage this, since more feedback may both help strengthen this concept, as well as Our Blocks itself, and potentially lead to mutually-beneficial collaborations.

Thanks very much again, Leo, and be talking to you.

~~ Bill

* * * * *

In response to your note and request for feedback, I’m writing to sketch out some neighborhood thoughts, and more specifically around developing a centralized “Taking Action in Your Neighborhood” resource that I’d mentioned before.

We’d certainly be interested in any of your own thoughts you might have on this, especially (if the idea has merit) for moving this idea forward. I’m also copying Jay here, since this relates pretty closely to some work he has done.

Here’s the rationale: There’s a lot of neighborhood-related stuff in print and in cyberspace, which may not be very surprising. Much of what exists is both good and useful. A lot of it can be found on Our Blocks. Some of it is on the Community Tool Box, and I’m sure also on many other sites as well.

But a real downside is that it’s scattered all over the map – so if someone is interested in a particular neighborhood topic or issue, they might find themselves looking in a lot of places, and having to patch together what they need from a bunch of different sources. This is both time-consuming and often not all that effective.