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What Attaches People to Their Communities?

What makes a community a desirable place to live? What draws people to stake their future in it? Are communities with more attached residents better off?

Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation launched the Knight Soul of the Community project in 2008 with these questions in mind. After interviewing close to 43,000 people in 26 communities over three years, the study has found that three main qualities attach people to place: social offerings, such as entertainment venues and places to meet, openness (how welcoming a place is) and the area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces).

Soul of the Community Overview Video

November 16, 2010

'People in Akron are passionate about openness, beauty, social life more than leadership, safety'

 From Akron WKSU-FM Public Radio News, Nov. 16, 2010: 

A new study of Akron and 25 other cities shows what people are passionate about in their communities. The three-year “Soul of Community” study focused on places where John S. and James L. Knight were passionate about their newspapers. The Gallup and Knight Foundation concluded people in Akron are passionate about openness and beauty and social life more than leadership and safety. Gallup researcher Katherine Laughlin says the survey offers new approaches for communities to organize themselves for economic growth. Laughlin says Akron residents feel that the city needs to improve its social offerings and job seeking college graduates are perceived to be the least welcome group.  

November 16, 2010

Study finds Twin Cities and Duluth residents love their cities for social offerings, openness, aesthetics

From, Nov. 16, 2010:  

We feel the love for our towns — both here and around the country — because of softer issues, such as social offerings, openness to diverse groups, and the beauty of where we live. And when people care strongly about where they live, indications are that economic growth improves.

November 16, 2010

'Americans Like Their Communities Because of Schools, but Don't Necessarily Like Schools'

 From EducationWeek, Nov. 16, 2010: 

Americans like where they live for a number of reasons, including their local schools, even though this doesn't necessarily translate into either high regard for the schools or a proclivity to become involved in public education.


"Education tends to be one of the highest rated attachment drivers," according to the report. Social and cultural offerings, "openness" to people of all ages and backgrounds, and aesthetics were the other major reasons why people like where they live. Yet, just 22 percent gave high marks to the quality of local public schools. (The study did not disaggregate findings by whether or not one had children in school.)

November 16, 2010

'How do we love thee, Twin Cities? ...Its beauty is biggest reason for our loyalty, survey finds''

 The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Nov. 16, 2010: 

Did the Twin Cities get more beautiful in the past couple of years?

That's what you might conclude from the results of a three-year survey of Twin Cities residents as part of a study funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on what makes people love and feel passionate about their hometowns.

November 16, 2010

'Soul of Community study: Charlotte is above average in emotional attachment'

 From The Charlotte Observer, Nov. 16, 2010: 

One sign that a community's economy is poised to grow: how much its residents love living there, according to the results of a new study.

Emotional attachment to the Charlotte area has held steady for the last three years and remains above the national average, despite the recession, a three-year Gallup poll of residents in Charlotte and 25 other U.S. cities found.

November 16, 2010

'Residents rated Lexington area as significantly more open for families with young children'

From LuAnn Farrar's Kentucky News Review, Nov. 16, 2010: 

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has released its study results from "Soul of the Community." The organization's research included Lexington. According to a the foundation, the intention of the study is to identify "factors that emotionally attach residents to where they live. Some of these community characteristics that drive attachment were rated highly by residents, and are therefore community strengths while others were rated lower, making them opportunities for improvement.

November 16, 2010

'Daily Grinder: Philadelphia Studies'

From Philadelphia Weekly, Nov. 16, 2010:

OK, we don’t want you to start your Tuesday off too sad: If you’re in Philly too long, this city will eat you alive – nah, just kidding, sorta. It’ll actually help you grow an “emotional bond” which will keep you here, forevermore. And that emotional bond, according to a new study conducted by Gallup and paid for by the Knight Foundation, found that social offerings, openness and beauty were more important to Philadelphians than, say, safety and perceptions about the economy. Therefore – keeping up? – the vague ideas of “social offerings” and “beauty” of the city are the only things that keep the slow, steady economic machine moving at all! [Philadelphia Business Journal]

November 15, 2010

'St. Paul residents passionate about their city'

 From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Nov. 15, 2010: 

St. Paul residents are more attached to their city than folks in many other cities and that could mean good things for the local economy, according to a study released Monday.

The Soul of the Community report by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, based on three years of data, looked at 25 other cities to gauge people's passion for where they live.

November 15, 2010

'Knight Foundation: San Jose must woo tomorrow's work force'

 From the San Jose Business Journal, Nov. 15: 

A three-year study found that social offerings, openness and beauty are far more important to San Jose residents than their perceptions of the economy, jobs or basic services, according to a report Monday from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.San Jose residents feel that the city needs to improve its social offerings such as community events, entertainment venues, and arts and culture opportunities.Immigrants and job-seeking college graduates were perceived to be significantly less welcome in San Jose than in 2009.

November 15, 2010

'New research: If you love your town, prosperity follows'

 From The Christian Science Monitor: 

If you sometimes stop and wonder why you donate to your local school’s annual fundraiser, help plant trees on your town’s main drag or offer free hot cocoa at every street fair, the answer is because you're either very generous or you know what's good for your local economy.

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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