admin's blog

April 03, 2012

Paula Ellis interviewed by The Community Foundation on Boulder radio

Paula Ellis

The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County discussed community attachment one of the key principles of Knight's Soul of the Community research on "A Public Affair" this month. Morgan Rogers and Max Tappet of the foundation interviewed Paula Ellis, VP for Strategic Initiatives, at KGNU Community Radio.

http://www.commfound.org/nonprof/trends/episodes-boulder-county-trends-kgnus-radio-collaboration (click on item No.3 in the play list)

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.

Placemaking is the ability to identify the unique assets of a community to create and develop strategies and outcomes around quality of life and economic sustainability that best connect people with their place. As such, all community and economic activity must be grounded somewhere in the community that is connected to its greatest assets, not disconnected.

In Akron, the benefits of visionary planning by local leaders such as Mayor Don Plusquellic and University of Akron President Luis Proenza are visible in significant stretches of new investment in Akron. Visit the Akron area if you haven’t recently. Look around and see the progress for yourself. What you’ll witness is a solid foundation emerging for future prosperity.

Urban planners across the country envy what is already in place in Akron. Where other communities are stifled by the difficulty of coordinating community leaders toward a common vision, Akron’s leaders have mobilized for years. And today, work toward developing a vibrant urban core is emerging in a compact area around Main Street and circling around the University of Akron and the main campuses of three local hospitals.

Akron’s emerging urban core has benefited in recent decades from nearly $2 billion of investment in projects and infrastructure, mainly by the city of Akron, The University of Akron, Summa Health System, Akron Public Schools and Akron Children’s Hospital. Minus such investment, the canvas for building a strong urban setting would be blank.

University Park Alliance has focused the past two years on strategies that build on this investment to create an urban core with vitality and civic activity. In 2013, our efforts will continue toward fulfilling the promise of a livable urban neighborhood. The work at UPA is about becoming a market leader in creating a great “place” to spur community and economic opportunity that grow organically, having a long-term impact on the soul of the Akron community.

Read more at Ohio.com

Copyright © 2012 The Akron Beacon Journal

tags:
August 16, 2012

Community: Taking care of neighborhood is a gift to all

South Lido Beach (cc) by Timothy Valentine on Flickr

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.

Ms. Rody took it upon herself to care for her own home community. She joined other neighbors in the simple act of beautifying their surroundings, by tending to their own yards and also by occasionally mowing the shared space of the neighborhood when it needed attention. It is clear that her neighbors appreciated the work that Ms. Rody did and recognized how it contributed to neighborly spirit.

In a recent national study conducted by the Knight Foundation called "Soul of the Community," it was revealed that attachment to the place where we live is profoundly affected by the following three qualities: "openness," or the welcoming way in which neighbors treat one another; "social offerings," such as local meet-ups; and "aesthetics," or the physical beauty of the area. In other words, we are more likely to feel attached to the communities in which we live when there is a naturally occurring sense of neighborliness, when there are spaces in which to regularly convene and when our physical surroundings are tended to with care.

This means that taking the time to look after shared spaces within one's own neighborhood, as Ms. Rody did, is precisely the kind of action that can lead to community attachment. When people feel attached to their home community, they are more likely to feel connected and committed to the place in which they live. It is within communities like these that neighbors share their skills for the sake of personal and collective benefit, which ultimately contributes to the economic thriving of the area, as well as other aspects of community well-being.

Ms. Rody has been described by her own neighbors as someone who was warm, helpful and friendly. That is noteworthy, especially these days when so many people are connected to others through work or other networks but may not even know the names of their next door neighbors.

Robert Putnam describes the importance of social relationships among community members in terms of "social capital." Ms. Rody was undoubtedly generating social capital with her fellow neighbors.

Tending to one's surroundings, getting to know one's neighbors and being friendly are simple acts that can have lasting effects, both at the neighborhood scale and within the community as a whole. When people are neighborly like Ms. Rody, a sense of healthy abundance can be generated. As neighbors fall in love with their immediate communities, it becomes more natural to rebuild the tradition of looking out for one another and the shared physical space in which they live.

...

Read more in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

tags:
August 15, 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.

At a time when traditional ways of generating growth, such as tax incentives for new business, are no longer financially viable, this finding is important. Seeing the potential of engaged and attached residents, cities are looking for affordable ways to increase these feelings.

Surprisingly, the top factors that encourage community attachment are aesthetics and having spaces for people to socialize, according to 43,000 survey participants who ranked these factors above safety, education, and municipal services. But with foreclosures and vacant buildings and the resulting loss of tax revenue, how do you create and pay for public spaces?

One innovative solution in Chicago is Space in Between, a contest organized by the Metropolitan Planning Council to recongize individuals who have converted vacant parking lots or liquor stores into community gardens or art exhibitions in the greater Chicago/Gary/Milwaukee region.

“There’s a phrase making the rounds called ‘small is the new big,’ which is an apt description for what this contest is about. This contest is about how ordinary people can transform small spaces that impact them into places that better their lives,” said Marisa Novara, Metropolitan Planning Council’s Placemaking project manager.

A new twist on placemaking, Space in Between recognizes that communities where development projects have stalled need a temporary fix.

. .

Read more of this article at Forbes.com

tags:
July 05, 2012

Aspen Ideas Festival: Making Cities Sing

Rocco Landesman at Aspen Ideas Festival

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

Video: Aspen Ideas Festival

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/07/making-cities-sing/2466/

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.

At the Aspen Ideas Festival last Saturday, I had the opportunity to talk with Rocco Landesman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dennis Scholl of the Knight Foundation, and Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation about the linkage between artistic and cultural funding, place-making, and economic vibrancy -- the very elements that make a city "sing."

"Cities have organically, authentically sang without a lot of intervention from the Ford Foundation," Walker noted. "What we are now thinking about is how to channel and support the local, authentic leadership……I don’t want to give the impression that there is a top down way for cities to sing.”

As Jane Jacobs used to say, government and foundations can and should provide infrastructure and support, but the inspiration must come from the citizens.

Scholl spoke to the importance of public spaces that help to knit communities together. "There’s a confluence of circumstances that finally makes it the arts' turn," he said. "Maybe because of the financial crisis, people have stopped dropping multi-billion dollar stadiums in places and chasing companies to bring them in and are looking instead at the organic bubbling that goes on in communities." Social offerings, he added, are the most important things that people care about in their communities, according to the Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Communitystudy.

A high point of the panel was a spectacular Random Act of Culture from Wu Tong, who later surprised the crowd at the Benedict Music Tent.

Read more at The Atlantics Cities PLACE MAKING Blog

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.  

A yearlong study of collaboratives found that nearly all of them struggled with how to engage residents as co-producers of change. The study, which examined 100 such community-wide efforts and identified 12 as best of class, looked specifically at how institutions engage with each other and how community members themselves engage to produce impact.

Armed with this body of research on what works and with newly announced support from Knight Foundation, the Aspen Institute is launching a Forum for Community Solutions to do two things: share practical tools and skills that can be put to use immediately and build a community of practice that digs deeper.

To accomplish these goals, they’ll host roundtable discussions around the country with mayors, community leaders, philanthropists and businesses to walk through successful “needle-moving strategies.” The institute uses the term needle-moving to help determine impact. It refers to instances when at least a double digit improvement occurs  based upon an agreed measure. They’ll launch a media campaign to publicize what works and provide support to communities with promising, impact-driven engagement projects.

Support for this project goes to the heart of Knight Foundation’s belief that community engagement is necessary to produce lasting, visible change. There is a growing recognition that investing in programs alone is not sufficient given the complexity of the social challenges and opportunities.  Large-scale transformation requires the engagement of all sectors in a community, nonprofits, businesses, philanthropies and governments all pulling in the same direction through collaborative efforts.

The Aspen Institute is also placing a particular emphasis on engaging young people. A new Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund launched as part of the forum will support projects to help Americans ages 16-24 who don’t have a job and aren’t currently enrolled in school.

Melody C. Barnes, the former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, will chair the forum at the institute, where it is supported by its president and CEO Water Isaccson.

The goal is ultimately to increase the level of authentic community engagement by developing the tools and knowledge necessary to support it.  It’s also to help institutions more effectively collaborate.

We are excited about taking the best-of-breed ideas identified by the forum, matching them with the communities that can do the most with them and sharing what we learn about community engagement across the country. This partnership gives Knight, The Aspen Institute and community collaboratives the chance to learn together and help share this knowledge with others.

By Paula Ellis, vice president/strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation

May 16, 2012

Placemaking: A Blueprint for our Future

On April 26, Charlottesville Tomorrow held its annual community conversation. This year’s topic was “Placemaking: A Blueprint for our Future.” Over 130 community members turned out to hear Dr. Katherine Loflin present her findings from the Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community project on how attachment to place drives a community’s economic vitality – and how understanding those attachments can direct the ways in which we as a community choose to change and grow.

The top-4 attachment factors (full study):

Social offerings
Openess
Aesthetics
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.

The resulting study of 26 communities, called the Soul of the Community, ended up drawing clear parallels between what they call “attachment drivers” and the growth of a local economy. Purposefully emphasizing those drivers in community-wide decision making and keeping place central to decisionmaking is what they call placemaking. Download the latest results from the project here.

Read more in Charlottesville Tomorrow.

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.

There is data out there that supports the benefits of public art to the community.

The Knight Foundation and Gallup Corporation’s Soul of the Community study, for example, indicates that community attachment creates an emotional connection to place (which also correlates to local economic growth). They determined that the key drivers of attachment are social offerings, openness, and the aesthetics of place–all potential attributes of public art.

It’s fascinating that these drivers scored higher than education, basic services and safety, and the economy. Also, a local summer visitors survey conducted by the Greater Philadelphia Marketing & Tourism Corporation (GPTMC) found that of the city’s ten most popular outdoor activities, outdoor art ranked second–above hiking, jogging, and biking.

Public art can create community attachment, if we overcome perceived barriers and open pathways for engagement. With this in mind, the Fairmount Park Art Association developed Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO (MWW:AUDIO)—a multi-platform interactive audio experience, available for free on the street by cell phone, audio download, Android and iPhone mobile app, QR code, or online as streaming audio and audio slideshows.

Read the full article at ArtsUSA.org

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.

There is data out there that supports the benefits of public art to the community.

The Knight Foundation and Gallup Corporation’s Soul of the Community study, for example, indicates that community attachment creates an emotional connection to place (which also correlates to local economic growth). They determined that the key drivers of attachment are social offerings, openness, and the aesthetics of place–all potential attributes of public art.

It’s fascinating that these drivers scored higher than education, basic services and safety, and the economy. Also, a local summer visitors survey conducted by the Greater Philadelphia Marketing & Tourism Corporation (GPTMC) found that of the city’s ten most popular outdoor activities, outdoor art ranked second–above hiking, jogging, and biking.

Public art can create community attachment, if we overcome perceived barriers and open pathways for engagement. With this in mind, the Fairmount Park Art Association developed Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO (MWW:AUDIO)—a multi-platform interactive audio experience, available for free on the street by cell phone, audio download, Android and iPhone mobile app, QR code, or online as streaming audio and audio slideshows.

While our delivery system is comprehensive and impressive, our primary goal was to develop a conceptually sound, content-rich program that could be adapted to new technology over time. In my opinion, getting too caught up in the technology is a trap; it’s like jumping on a high-speed train, without knowing where you’re headed.

MWW:AUDIO was inspired by the idea that there is a unique story, civic effort, and creative expression behind every public sculpture in Philadelphia—and that an ideal way to tell each story is in the environment and context of city life.

 

Read more at ArtsUSA.org

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.

Four main attributes affect quality of life and create emotional bonds between people and their places: social offerings, openness, aesthetics and education.

When people find these attributes, they are more likely to stay and make a life. The Knight results also found that communities with the highest levels of resident attachment also enjoy the greatest levels of gross domestic product growth.

Read more at Minnesota Community Foundation's blog

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?

TRUSTe online privacy certification
TRUST-E
TRUSTe online privacy certification