About Us

one of site authors, Nancy Thompson

This website has only one purpose: to provide helpful information, insights, and perspectives for ordinary people who find themselves engaged with some aspect of the broad spectrum of activities we call community development. You might call it community improvement, betterment, or activism. Usually our articles serve as an orientation to a topic, in order to inspire readers to ask appropriate questions as they research their own local conditions. By increasing your understanding of both basic and sophisticated concepts in planning, economic development, and community improvement, you can multiply your effectiveness in public dialogue at the neighborhood or city-wide scale.

This site originally contained the work of four authors. At this point Nancy Thompson (shown here)  has been selected as the Managing Editor and assumes ultimate responsibility for content; the other three have heavy professional responsibilities at the moment. All of us who drafted the articles initially have master's degrees in urban planning. In addition, each of us is active in our own communities, and have been appointed or elected to positions such as neighborhood association officer, zoning board of appeals member, and non-profit and community development corporation board member.

We still circulate new content among all of us to solicit alternate viewpoints, corrections, and suggestions to bring specialized experience and a critical eye. We are quite diverse in our professional and personal experiences, so you can bet that at least one of us knows plenty about each topic we present.

Nancy has achieved certification as a community planner, meaning she is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.  She studied journalism at the University of Missouri and earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has served as a planning director in city and county governments in a variety of settings. Often her department has been responsible for capital improvements, community development projects, and code enforcement too. At the regional level, she was planning division manager at East-West Gateway Council of Governments. Recent specialized planning experience has included serving as Executive Director at St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, a coalition of the city's neighborhood association's,  and as a project manager and community outreach manager of the multi-county urban and rural Great Rivers Greenway district. 

In addition Nancy has served throughout the U.S. as a consultant, specializing in neighborhood plans, community development work, neighborhood leadership training, and non-profit strategic planning.  She has spurred start-ups of neighborhood associations, community development corporations, and a variety of other non-profits.

Right now Nancy is tired of formal writing, even though she has won several competitive prizes for just that. So she and her three co-authors adopted an informal "telling it like it is" voice. Whenever neighborhood folks are in danger of wasting their time, we say so. We expose any conventional wisdom about community work that doesn't pass the reality test.

At a recent team meeting in Chicago, we took time out to study urbanology in Grant's Park near Buckingham Fountain.  The other three authors are shown here among the Segway crowd.  We don't really know who the other Segway tourist that strayed into our little circle might be. It seemed we finally had broken our string of gray days for meeting.

Earlier we had chosen our favorite photo of a rainy but beautiful New York, during the next-to-last face-to-face meeting we held.  We just can't bring ourselves to remove this photo; it represents all that is beautiful about big cities, don't you think?

rainy day New York

You can check out back issues of our almost-monthly newsletter, Community Development Plus, on our newsletter archive page.   Subscribe below.

We encourage fellow professionals to contact us to discuss potential collaborations or to challenge some of our necessarily very general commentary. We always welcome other perspectives, news about the latest research, and tips on community development resources that are helpful and accessible to our typical reader.

Our site is full of actionable ideas, whether you are puzzling about a big city, small city, village, or rural community development experience.  Below we're giving you another chance at searching the site to learn about something of particular relevance to your neighborhood or city. 

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