Recommended resources from our Community Empowerment survey

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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

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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 …

Resources for building & empowering communities – Rebecca Sanborn Stone

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14th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Rebecca Sanborn Stone is Senior Associate for Communications at Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters. She holds a BA in Biology and English from Williams College, where she helped found the Williams Social Choice Fund for socially responsible investing. She got her MESc from Yale. You can also find Rebecca on Twitter (@rsstone) and Facebook.

On the practice of hoarding or sharing best practices, Rebecca says: I’ve historically seen a fair bit of hoarding, including in my own organization, though not always intentionally. I think a lot of organizations intend to share and collaborate and grow a common set of best practices, but it breaks down because we all want control over what our case studies and resources look like, how we build and share them. I think I see a shift in that trend, though – I’ve recently learned of a number of newer organizations (mostly either run by millennials or at least operating with a millennial mindset) that are bucking this trend and abandoning the ego in favor of true collaboration. It makes organizations like mine stop and take notice and, I hope, will be enough to help us change our ways.

These are Rebecca’s recommended resources:

Changemakers Competitions – Community empowerment for me always starts with inspiration and examples, and I can’t think of a better resource for that than Changemakers. Their competition winners offer so many inspiring stories of people taking control of their communities and coming up with innovative solutions to both local and global challenges. The competition entrants who don’t win are perhaps an even richer resource – the site doubles as a database of creative ideas for community change.

CommunityMatters blog – CommunityMatters helps local leaders and changemakers find collaborative, innovative grassroots solutions to community challenges. The CommunityMatters blog includes information-rich posts and podcasts of conference calls on topics ranging from local foods to placemaking to economic development.

NCDD Resource Center – The NCDD Resource Center is home to more than 2,500 resources for dialogue and deliberation, including dialogue guides, case studies, tools, and evaluation methods. Dialogue and democratic participation are at the heart of all community empowerment, and NCDD is at the heart of this movement.

Cause Communications Toolkit – Cause Communications publishes a Non-profit Communications Toolkit, as well as other resources related to networks, online outreach tools, and print and presentation design. It might seem only peripherally related to community empowerment, but we find that so many community initiatives stall because they fail to communicate with or reach citizens. The Cause Communications guides are some of the best resources around for improving effectiveness in communications.

Deep Economy (Bill McKibben) – It’s not free, and not an obvious choice, but I have to list it. I see so many aspects of community empowerment leading back to the “local” movement today – buy local / grow local / eat local / work local / etc. Bill McKibben’s book was at the forefront of the local movement, and is one of the best articulation’s I’ve seen for why local economies and community empowerment have to go hand in hand. [Check a library near you]

Building community in neighborhoods

The following resources on Rebecca’s list are more focused on building community in neighborhoods. As Rebecca notes: There are several great databases and resources out there with examples of community initiatives, and instructions on how to do it, but I wouldn’t limit myself to the neighborhood level. Lessons from small town and rural planning would apply very well to neighborhood community building, and the resources I’d recommend would point people in that direction.

CommunityPlanning.net – The Community Planning Handbook by Nick Wates is one of the best publications, with ideas for planning-related tools to engage citizens, identify what matters to communities, and plan for the future – especially in an international context. Communityplanning.net is a free online database listing most of the resources from his book.

Planning Tool Exchange – The Planning Tool Exchange is an online hub for tools, resources, and organizations in community planning and civic engagement. We invite all users to find and contribute resources and help grow an information bank for communities.

Heart & Soul Community Planning Handbook – The Heart & Soul Community Planning Handbook helps communities engage citizens and take control of their future. Chapters include network analysis and stakeholder identification, outreach and communications, storytelling, and engaging youth. I recommend this because it’s at the heart of our work and it’s one of the resources I know best; neighborhoods looking to engage citizens would learn a lot from the small town planning examples included here.

Animating Democracy database – This database focuses on projects that use the arts to build dialogue, engage citizens, and work through difficult civic issues. Many of the projects are replicable, but even if they’re not a perfect fit for other communities and neighborhoods, they inspire creative thinking about unorthodox community tools.

PPS Placemaking 101 Articles – PPS’s resource collection includes how-tos, articles, principles, tools, and just about everything else a community would need to understand how placemaking can help and how to get started.

 

Social Enterprise Resources from Paul Lamb

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13th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Paul Lamb is Principal at Man on A Mission Consulting, a firm specializing in “Management Consulting for Social Change.” He is an author and social entrepreneur, and runs a “Technology & Spiritual Practice” program assisting faith based communities to leverage social media and emerging technology tools. Paul is the co-author with wife Debbie of the Be A Better Partner Handbook for Couples. In a previous life he worked as a nonprofit executive and youth counselor. Paul compiled this comprehensive list of Social Enterprise Resources on ZeroDivide, which includes most everything you’d need to start and sustain a social enterprise. He also authored this Social Enterprise 101 presentation for budding social entrepreneurs:

View more presentations from plamb

Paul recommends that you check these other resources out:

Social Enterprise Alliance - Website of the Social Enterprise Alliance – the largest membership org for nonprofit social enterprise in the US.



Social Entrepreneur, Social Enterprise and Social Innovation Sources of Funding
- A list of 200+ social entrepreneur, social enterprise and social innovation funding sources on Ned, global online co-working space for early stage social entrepreneurs and collaborative social ventures.


130 Ways to Fund Your Social Venture
, published in SocialEarth, a collaborative blog that focuses on businesses that are doing good through their work.

On sharing/hoarding best practices, Paul says: “Sharing is in, hoarding is out. Coopetition is in, competition is out!”

Next up: Rebecca Sanborn Stone of the Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters.

How to be an urban change agent – Favorite guides of Shareable readers

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by Kelly McCartney, reposted from How to Be an Urban Change Agent, Shareable Style, published 05.18.11 by Shareable

Subscribe to Kelly’s blog, thekelword, and to the Shareable rss feed. See more links below.

The John Lennon tribute in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields. Credit: Kerry Kehoe.

There’s a movement – or two, or many – under foot. It goes by myriad names and comes in an array colors. The common thread, though, involves citizens stepping up to better their surroundings, to create safer, more livable, and more environmentally sound urban environments. According to the folks at Pattern Cities, some popular monikers include “guerilla urbanism,” “pop-up urbanism,” “new urbanism,” “changescaping,” or “D.I.Y. urbanism.” They, however, prefer the “tactical urbanism” approach which is defined with five specific criteria:

  • A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;
  • The offering of local solutions for local planning challenges;
  • Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
  • Low-risks, with a possibly a high reward; and
  • The development of social capital between citizens and the building of organizational capacity between public-private institutions, non-profits, and their constituents.

Such a strategy employs an incremental approach in order to test real-world solutions to real-world problems in the urban environment. Like any good incubator project, small-scale experimentation demands fewer resources, be they time, funds, or man hours. The hope here is that positive results are scalable. The definition of true tactical urbanism hinges on the institutional involvement and long-term vision.

In contrast, so-called D.I.Y. or guerilla urbanism affects temporary change in a more localized setting and is instigated from the bottom up without, necessarily, an eye toward the bigger picture. These actions amount to social interventions in the name of bettering a community or furthering a cause.

In a shareable world, there is room for both of these divergent, albeit similar, strategies, and everything in between. Indeed, intiatives from many camps are proving successful in cities around the world. Here at Shareable, we’ve written numerous guides for shaping your urban environment and community. Below are our readers’ favorite ideas.

How to Be an Urban Change Agent

A good first step to begin your urban experiments is to start a neighborhood work group to get your community’s support, input, and resources from which to draw. After that, the sky is really the limit for what a group of committed people can do.

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