Meet Some New Friends Doing Interesting Things In Community Development

Orton and Sonoran websitesSpring is in the air.  Local citizens are coming out of their winter’s cocoons and are eager to do something.  You’re right on top of that, coaxing your friends and neighbors to stop pushing buttons (between planning and doing) and starting to move their Flywheel of incremental, constant improvement.  You’ve spent your winter getting to Know Yourself, shredding the common wisdom and turning data into actionable information.  Maybe you’ve even read up on Strategic Doing since last week.

You’re inspired.

You’re ready.

You’re still not sure WHAT to do to improve your community…

Sounds like a good time to meet some new friends who might have resources to share.

A Couple Groups of Folks Doing Interesting Things in Community Development at the Moment

Orton Family Foundation.  Up in the mountains of Vermont, the Orton Foundation is an operating foundation with a track record of nurturing innovative ideas, especially for small towns and rural areas:

  • Community Matters, a partnership of seven organizations (including Chuck Marohn’s Strong Towns) intended to facilitate connections and conversations for communities who want to re-create themselves and their civic infrastructure.  On 12 March they also sponsored a webinar on “Creative Rural Urban Alliances“, which they handily recorded and posted for your enjoyment.  On Twitter @CommunityMttrs.
  • CommunityViz GIS plug-in was sponsored by the foundation. This tool helps visualize scenarios for growth and development, which they spun off in a partnership, Placeways based in Boulder, Colorado.
  • Community Heart & Soul is their latest initiative which aims to get people participating in making community decisions and taking action to improve the place where they live, work, learn and play.  They have been ground-testing this four phase, 12 step process, in New England and across the Rocky Mountain states, and have some interesting results you can put to work in your community.   In fact, they were at work the last couple years just the other side of Mesa Verde National Park, in the community of Cortez, Colorado.

Urban Renewal as a Catalyst for Private Investment from Sonoran Institute on Vimeo.

Sonoran Institute.  Out in the deserts of Arizona, the Sonoran Foundation is celebrating 25 years working mostly across the Western U.S.  When I first got to known them, they had a reputation as environmentalists, and they still are, but they have grown over the years with a vision for healthy landscapes, vibrant communities and resilient economies.  A couple of their initiatives include:

  • Community Builders shares success stories from across the West, from “communities with strong and diverse economies, quality growth, vibrant downtowns, and complete neighborhoods.”  They sponsored a webinar this winter from Downtown Bozeman, Montana (I hardly recognize my old hometown).  On Twitter @CommunityBldrs.  And yeah, I get Community Builders and Community Matters mixed up time-to-time, but they’re both good folks.
  •— the Successful Communities Online Toolkit information exchange—is a joint project of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute, among others including several APA chapters.  This consortium also put together Don Elliott of Clarion Associates with Jim Holoway (formerly head of Western Lands and Communities at Sonoran) for a great study on “Zombie Subdivisons”, cut up on paper and left as the living dead of the real estate market since the crash.  The website (due for a sprucing up soon) provides a database of smart growth and resource protection resources.
  • New Mobility West is another partnership sponsored by the Sonoran Institute and others, providing support to communities in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado to improve transportation systems and create stronger and more vibrant communities. They are at work up the road from me right now in Durango, Colorado, on the state highway that cuts through the historic downtown.  If you live/work in Montana or Wyoming you might be able to get in on some FREE training if you apply soon.  On Twitter @NewMobilityWest.

Those are just a couple ideas from good folks doing good things for communities across the country.  Maybe they can help implementation be your watchword this year, too.



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2 Responses to Meet Some New Friends Doing Interesting Things In Community Development

  1. Pingback: What we're reading - where retirees and millennials are moving now - Community BuildersCommunity Builders

  2. Thanks for including Orton’s programs in this great list!

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