What Makes People Happy With Their Communities?

Over three years, Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation set out to explore several key questions: What makes a community a desirable place to live? What draws people to stake their future in it?

The answers are important, especially in today’s world, where the most successful cities are able to attract and retain the talented workers that strengthen communities and local economies.

Soul of the Community Overview Video

November 26, 2012

Ohio: Eric Anthony Johnson: A sense of ‘place’ matters to Akron

By Eric Anthony Johnson

During all the political conversation of recent months, Americans heard precious little on the national stage about the vitality of our cities. Yet our cities are key to future prosperity and job creation due in large part to the proximity of local economic anchors within their boundaries. These are the places where people live, work and learn and where the art of placemaking will be at the center of building competitive advantages.

September 14, 2012

Civic Data Challenge winners make data useful to field of civic health

Today live from its Annual Conference, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is celebrating the winners of the Civic Data Challenge. David B. Smith, NCoC’s executive director, blogs about the challenge and its winners.

We have used civic health data for years to understand civic life in communities across the country, and to take an evidence-based approach to inform policies, programs, and initiatives that advance civic engagement.

August 16, 2012

Community: Taking care of neighborhood is a gift to all

By Chelsea Clarkson and Allison Pinto in The Sarasota Herald-Tribune

With the recent death of Andrea Rody, our community has lost an everyday community changemaker. We are touched by the way in which her neighbors have been coming forth to celebrate her memory, and as fellow residents of the broader Sarasota County community, we want to acknowledge the significance of her contributions as a neighbor, too.

August 16, 2012

Forbes: 'The Economic Secret of Vacant City Spaces'

By Ashoka for Forbes.com

Most of us feel attached to our neighborhoods, but can this emotional connection help fuel local economies? According to a multi-year study by Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the answer is yes: Communities with high levels of attachment actually have higher local GDP growth.

July 05, 2012

Aspen Ideas Festival: Making Cities Sing

Above: Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

By Richard Florida, Creative Class Group Originally posted at The Atlantic Cities

Arts spending alone can’t stimulate economic growth. But a community’s aesthetic assets — its architecture and public spaces, its musical, theatrical, and artistic communities and institutions — are among its most priceless resources.

July 02, 2012

Finding ways to better describe, measure and replicate community engagement

Photo Credit: Flickr user callumscott2

While engagement is widely seen as a core feature of the best solutions to community challenges, there isn’t yet an agreed upon way to describe it, copy it, measure it - or even know if it’s spreading.  

how to engage residents as co-producers of change

May 16, 2012

Placemaking: A Blueprint for our Future

Dr. Katherine LoflinKnight Foundation's Soul of the Community

The top-4 attachment factors (full study):

Social offeringsOpenessAesthetics Education

If you weren't able to attend, here's a little background: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup recognized that there had long been a connection between employee satisfaction and business productivity, and they wondered if the same could be applied to communities. So they set out to see if there was any connection between people’s general feelings of satisfaction about where they lived and the overall productivity and economic health of a community.

May 07, 2012

ARTS Blog: Public Art & Community Attachment

Penny Balkin Bach

By Penny Balkin Bach

Working in the field of public art automatically puts us in touch with the public, art, and its social context.

In fact, public art may be one of a community’s most overlooked and under appreciated cultural assets; it’s accessible “on the street”, any time, free to all, without a ticket, and diverse in content. It can be enjoyed spontaneously, alone, or in groups, and by culture seekers as well as new audiences.

May 07, 2012

ARTS Blog: Public Art & Community Attachment

By Penny Balkin Bach

Working in the field of public art automatically puts us in touch with the public, art, and its social context.

In fact, public art may be one of a community’s most overlooked and under appreciated cultural assets; it’s accessible “on the street”, any time, free to all, without a ticket, and diverse in content. It can be enjoyed spontaneously, alone, or in groups, and by culture seekers as well as new audiences.

April 16, 2012

Improving Your Quality of Life

What appeals to you about the neighborhood you call home? Were you born and raised in Minnesota or did you intentionally migrate to the land of 10,000 lakes? What drew you to stake your future here?

The Knight Soul of the Community research project was launched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup with similar questions, and the findings over time have been surprisingly consistent.

Discover the soul of your community

Great schools, affordable health care and safe streets all help create strong communities. But is there something deeper that draws people to a city – that makes them want to put down roots and build a life?

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