Useful Community Development Approaches Create Hope for Neighborhoods

Last Updated: July 5, 2023

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 written or this site are all seasoned urban planning professionals who enjoy sharing their experiences to help 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 in plain English, emphasizing uncommon candor, a point of view, and a sense of humor.  It is invigorating to hear from many visitors each month from all around the world, and to receive many compliments on our down-to-earth style of approaching community regeneration.

Community Development Topics Found Here

Below are links to the different sections of the website;  start poking around if that's your style. If you have something specific in mind, use the site search box at the top of each page. This introductory article continues below the navigation aid.

This site fills the niche of nuanced words of wisdom and the voice of experience for people who aren't community development professionals. We provide definitions and basic concepts before moving on to tell you plainly what usually 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 intend it to be a major resource for neighborhood activists and leaders.

We're not interested in getting lost in theories about city or town planning, or urban or rural development in general, but we do try to explain the jargon that professionals use so you can understand what they are saying. 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.

However, 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 perceived need for crime prevention.  But there are many other good reasons to increase trust and problem-solving ability among neighbors in any and every type of community.

In our community development ideas section, we give you 19 possible ways to get started on community development or just freshen up your program. We also take on some of the Big Ideas you need to understand as the backdrop for all of your community work and provide a gateway to the visitor-contributed stories about their own projects. We also host an  extensive section of visitor-originated questions, which our editors attempt to answer. 

In a similarly practical vein, our community improvement projects page introduces some small and large projects your neighborhood might complete or initiate, including some topics that also have benefited from visitor contributions.

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 activity, code enforcement, fits in. 

Last and importantly, we've included a group of pages about sustainable development practices 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.

How to Interact with this Community Development Site

We seem to be meeting a real need by allowing you to ask a community development question.  We answer selected questions right on the website, 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!

An unanticipated joy of creating, writing, and re-writing this website has been the opportunity to get to know several readers through our consulting (including the well-received Zoom consultation at 49 U.S. dollars for 30 minutes) or just giving a little friendly advice.  You can use the site to contact us.  

The first few lines from recently added or significantly revised pages appear on a feature known as What's New. We add other news bits that are either short or time-sensitive there as well.

Let's get started.  Please explore the site.  Logical thinkers can use the sitemap, and if you want the legalese about the limited number of ads on the site, you can see the affiliate disclosure

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