Community development in your neighborhood, town, or city is our term for the fascinating work of creating better communities bit by bit. The partners who have participated in writing this site are all seasoned urban planning professionals who enjoy helping you improve your particular geographic place, whether a major metropolis, declining or emerging neighborhood, small city, quaint village, or rural enclave.
Our goal is to talk about common community and neighborhood issues with uncommon candor, a point of view, and a sense of humor.
Below are links to the different sections of the website; you can get started right away if that's your style. The site search box is always in the left-hand column. This introductory article continues below the grid.
This site fills the niche of nuanced advice for non-professionals, so we provide definitions and basic concepts before moving on to tell you plainly what works and what doesn't.
Community improvement concepts and specifics found here are practical for those who find themselves appointed or elected to a planning commission, board of adjustment, town council, neighborhood association board, or water district board, for example.
We're not interested in getting lost in theories about city or town planning or urban or rural development, but we do try to explain the jargon that professionals use so you can understand what they are saying and then apply your common sense to their advice. By now you figured out that we're conversational in sharing our experience and research, didn't you?
If you are a novice in this kind of activity, you may want to read about our very broad definition of community development, and an overview of the aims, principles, and international implications of this field. In the U.S., often the term community development is seen as nearly synonymous with housing issues, especially those dealing with affordability and neighborhood revitalization. We just think there are many additional topics to cover.
If you are action-oriented and want to begin with comparatively simple initiatives, delve into some community beautification projects.
But for greatest long-range impact, we can help with the challenging prospect of learning how to make your community organizations more effective, or perhaps how to form a new one. Often in urban areas, the urge for a new neighborhood association arises as part of a major need for crime prevention. But there are many other good reasons to increase trust and problem-solving ability among neighbors as well.
We are outspoken about trying to convince your community to be realistic about economic development, rather than pursuing wishful fantasies and giving away too many incentives to businesses that may or may not provide the employment that residents need. Changing economic fortunes in your community mean that you need to understand how intelligent redevelopment can spell new life for your community.
Regardless of the size, type, or wealth of the community, all will benefit from thoughtful city planning. As we explain in more detail in that section, someone is always making plans for your village, town, or city, but those of us who care about outcomes want to assure thoughtful deliberation about creating a future that is in the public interest.
In the U.S. at least, planning is legally required to precede land use zoning, which has become quite a complex web of law and custom. We try to simplify that complex topic, while explaining where another large body of municipal practice, code enforcement, fits in.
Also on a site about community development, we have to consider the growing body of developments and even towns and cities that have decided that zoning gives government too much power, and instead favor deed restrictions or private covenants.
Last and importantly, we've included a group of pages about environmental sustainability because many neighborhood associations and city governments are quite active in crafting local responses to environmental challenges. Chief among worthwhile strategies for contributing to better global and local environmental outcomes is curtailing suburban sprawl.
We seem to be meeting a real need by allowing you to ask a community development question. We answer selected questions, trying to make our response helpful to others. Substantive comments are permitted and moderated. Due to the volume of questions being received, we are launching a new series of ebooks, the first of which is available now. If you want to know about us, of course there's a page for that!
To contribute a favorite idea or even argue with one of our pages, add to the community development ideas pages.
An unanticipated joy of creating, writing, and re-writing this website has been the opportunity to get to know several readers through our consulting or just giving a little friendly advice. You can use the site to contact us.
The first few lines from recently added pages appear on a feature known as What's New.