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.
This list of various webresources was built to support the resident engagement work of United Way Toronto as part of its Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy. Knowledge exchange was an explicit part of the the BSN strategy. This set of resources was assembled by Diane Dyson when she was a research analyst at United Way. @unitedwayto
Publishes a wide variety of workbooks (in print and online) about ground up community development that are focused on empowering people and harvesting social and organizational capital, not just money.
Examples of how when Funders, Non Profits, Government Officials, Business and Civic Leaders get together regularly, things end up working better. Surprised? Surprised you are still surprised? @FSGtweets
An 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.
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. @CToolBox
Possibly the most important document I’ve had my hands on so far this century. Records and celebrates a number of examples of civic entrepreneurship, and reflects on their significance for our understanding of how people who are not part of formal public services, and not part of the traditional private sector, are making a difference to civic and social conditions, by coming up with transformational projects and involving others in carrying them through. @Civic_Economy @indy_johar
Ian David Moss is a best practice, as through his blog he has managed to build a community around the issues he cares about, lift up the work of others he admires and establish himself as an authority in a field that desperately needs vision, leadership and (ironically enough) creativity. @createquity
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. @kaboom
All Ages Movement recognizes that the lack of All Ages performance spaces in the US does not just dull and homogenize the cultural landscape, but also limits young people’s access to their community. They put out a handbook of methods and best practices. @all_ages
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. @incredibledible
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.
Behind the scenes of urban renewal in the UK, Julian Dobson is a major player, innovating social action, ideas around placemaking and bringing people together to make change in new, profitable, human ways. @JulianDobson
Sam Coniff from Livity showed how readily this movement can be reconciled with commercial entrepreneurship. He also clarified how it is partly a network society phenomenon, noting that because the technology allows people easily to start things up, they do things that are closer to their values. Don’t pass over that too quickly: it’s a very profound point about our age. @LivityUK @SamConniff
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. @meanwhile_space
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.
NESTA are an organization in the UK that have been blowing my mind recently. They published the Open Book of Social Innovation, and it is about as inspiring a publication of it’s kind I have seen. A perfect balance of analysis and ‘real stuff’, with guidelines as to how to develop a praxis cycle of assessment, idea generation and execution, and real world examples of sometimes staggeringly simple solutions to complex social problems. @uk_nesta @the_young_fdn
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. @Comm_Links
PPS’s “How to Turn A Place Around” workshop and their “Place Game” are great tools for improving the quality of life in communities, working from the ground up. Their monthly e-letter always has good articles. @PPS_Placemaking
Overview of the values and competencies that frame the work and training curriculum of SCI Social Capital Inc, whose mission is to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals and organizations through civic engagement initiatives.
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?
Social media can be useful to your organization… but how useful? For what? What tangible results are people seeing from it? Created in partnership with the New Organizing Institute, the Decision Guide walks you through a step-by-step process to decide what social media channels make sense for your organization via a workbook, guide, and the results of more than six months of research. And through the included Consultant Directory, you can find a professional to help define and implement your strategy.
I am a huge fan of Pete Peterson, and remember being inspired and sobered up by this brief article on what constitutes ‘legitimate’ civic engagement, i.e actually listening to people’s opinions and including them in a decision making process. The four steps outlined by Common Sense California here make a lot of sense to me.
WiserEarth helps the global movement of people and organizations working toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and build alliances. @WiserEarth
“Best Practices”, Mat says “are dynamic pieces of information. Things change, our tools change, our perspectives change. A ‘best’ practice can’t be confirmed without sharing the information fast, and seeing how it holds up over time in a multitude of environments. One has to think that THE best practice would be constantly amended and improved by a diverse range of people confirming it’s status as champion. From this perspective, hoarding information like it is tinned food seems like lunacy.” These are Mat’s recommended resources:
Open Book of Social Innovation (6MB pdf) – NESTA are an organization in the UK that have been blowing my mind recently. They published the Open Book of Social Innovation, and it is about as inspiring a publication of it’s kind I have seen. A perfect balance of analysis and ‘real stuff’, with guidelines as to how to develop a praxis cycle of assessment, idea generation and execution, and real world examples of sometimes staggeringly simple solutions to complex social problems.
What is ‘legitimate’ civic engagement- I am a huge fan of Pete Peterson, and remember being inspired and sobered up by this brief article on what constitutes ‘legitimate’ civic engagement. I.e ACTUALLY listening to people’s opinions and including them in a decision making process. We approached the LikeMinded project without a fixed idea of what we wanted to build, and with the intention of pulling together the best ideas from the public meetings we arranged.It’s a difficult process to deliver on, but the four steps outlined by Common Sense California here make a lot of sense to me.
Collective Impact – Examples of how when Funders, Non Profits, Government Officials, Business and Civic Leaders get together regularly, things end up working better. Surprised? Surprised you are still surprised?
Createquity – Ian David Moss writes about issues facing the arts, posts jobs and curates a weekly article pointing to the best news and views related to the arts on the web. Ian David Moss is a best practice, as through his blog he has managed to build a community around the issues he cares about, lift up the work of others he admires and establish himself as an authority in a field that desperately needs vision, leadership and (ironically enough) creativity. I am a bit of a fan, as you can tell.
In Every Town: An All-Ages Music Manifesto – All Ages Movement recognizes that the lack of All Ages performance spaces in the US does not just dull and homogenize the cultural landscape, but also limits young people’s access to their community. They put out a handbook of methods and best practices
One of the huge benefits of adopting “community building” as a hobby is that from time to time, you get to volunteer to work with real organizers. Early this year, I started to help the Council of Acorn Residents on a project they hoped would bring leaders and orgs in West Oakland more closely together. Dubbed “Solutions Salons”, the idea was to get community leaders together – with food, drink, music, and conversation – and hope something good would come of that. Like the salons of the Enlightenment, but without the hoopskirts. Initial results have been encouraging (see Oakland Local article reprinted with permission below).
The residents wanted to document the process we’re going through, so if you’d want to try it in your own neighborhood, you’d have a model you can use and improve upon. We created a project on LikeMinded called (very modestly) “Bringing Community Leaders Together – A Step-by-Step Guide“. It includes a timeline, and sample invitations, evaluations, surveys, and other docs that can give you a head start. This process has just begun, and we welcome your ideas on how to move it forward.
Residents, community organizations and business owners gathered at the Acorn Town Center and Courtyards late last week to discuss better ways of networking and communicating as part of the Solutions Salon for West Oakland Leaders.
The event was sponsored by the Council of Acorn Residents and was the second meeting held to specifically look at new ways West Oaklanders can come together. Organizers said they wanted participants to have an opportunity to brainstorm ideas about events or projects that can foster stronger ties in the community (photos).
On the practice of hoarding/sharing best practices, Richard says: Most people think their communities are unique. Of course every place is unique. But for the most part, as systems, neighborhoods and cities operate similarly, regardless of location, although specifics vary depending on their place within their own metropolitan region, and whether or not the region is a strong or weak real estate market. By working with the ideas and best practices from other places, we can significantly reduce the time we need to improve our own places, and in turn we can contribute our learnings outward, to others in similar situations.
These are the Top 5 resources Richard recommends, and why:
Asset Based Community Development Institute – They publish a wide variety of workbooks (in print and online) about ground up community development that are focused on empowering people and harvesting social and organizational capital, not just money.
Smart Transportation Guidebook – Integrating land use and transportation planning is key to successful communities. This guidebook provides a new framework for thinking about transportation (roads) in terms of land use context, whether the road serves the community or is important regionally, and roadside, roadway, and operating speed characteristics.
This is a very short list of Richard’s favorite resources. He also sent me this link to a longer list he put together for a presentation he made last week for a workshop in Baltimore on placemaking and transit at the neighborhood level. Also check out all those links to great resources in his blog.