Subject: Communities

  • Despite Changing Dollar Store Demographic, NIMBY Attitude Persists

    Last winter I wrote about a possible trend in which dollar stores were moving into older downtowns, filling vacant spaces abandoned decades ago when stores left for the interstate exits and strip malls. I thought I'd spotted an intriguing trend…

  • Homeowner Associations Have Draconian Rules. Why?

    I’ve always been somewhat puzzled as to why people choose to buy houses in neighborhoods with homeowner associations (HOAs). They always seem to have such draconian regulations in their covenants. Like the following examples I recently found produced by one…

  • Community Collaboration Results in Brilliant Transformation

    This is a project you truly have to see to believe. Artist Matthew Mazzotta, the Coleman Center for the Arts, and community in York, Alabama, collaborated to transform a blighted property into a 100-seat open air theater. From the project's…

  • Wealth Creation in Hawaii: ‘Aina, ‘Ohana, Aloha

    How would you define "wealth"?  Owning your own home? Accumulating an abundance of financial resources and goods? Celebrating a network of relationships that help you take care of your family? The third suggestion is one that is central to many…

  • Property Tax Madness: Another Part of the Detroit Puzzle

    There are many reasons that Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, and some have already been explored by others on Rooflines. Detroit’s problems have accumulated over decades, and are a paradigm of the trajectory of dozens of cities in the United…

  • Unlikely Poets / Guerrilla Haiku Movement / Sharing The Sidewalk

    We hailed down a police car in Orange, N.J., and Police Director John Rappaport pulled over. We explained our situation. He thought for a moment. Then he was inspired.  “Oh fire hydrant,” Rappaport wrote next to a bright blue hydrant…

  • The Community Builder’s Guide to Vacation

    We’re all familiar with the benefits of vacations. They keep us healthy and happy. They give us time to spend with our families and friends. They’re fun!  But can we also leverage them to further our community building work when…

  • It’s Our Race Relations, Not the Economy, That Need Healing

    Last Thursday, I was listening to Bruce Katz on NPR talk about Detroit’s recent bankruptcy and the set of metropolitan oriented strategies/practices that he thinks represents the way forward for the troubled city. Before I get too deep into my…

  • Who Owns That Vacant Building? Scan the Art to Find Out

    In a brilliant mash up of classic protest/beautifying strategies and state-of-the-art data management, artists are painting murals on abandoned Baltimore buildings  . . . complete with QR codes that bring you to data about those who own them. The data…

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    Are Poor Families Stuck in Place?

    A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of a new book by the Brookings Institution called Confronting Suburban Poverty in America that highlights the growing number of poor people living in suburbs and small cities across the nation. While…

  • The Tenacity of Dysfunction

    The word resilience has different meanings in different fields. In the field of material science, it refers to the ability of a material to regain its shape after it has been stressed.  A rubber band, for example, will regain its…

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    To Move Forward, Richmond Must Confront Its Racist Roots

    Successful cities adapt. They do not achieve success by remaining static. Adapting might be thought of in terms of building a new economic base or welcoming changes in the city's demographic makeup. But some cities need to go deeper. They suffer…

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    Collective Empowerment or an Invitation to Vigilantes?

    Jeremy Liu's post on combining "proactive" and "protective" services to both give people a greater sense of agency and help control costs for municipal budgets was an opening to discuss the ways community development can be a part of lowering…

  • Can Community Development Solve the Municipal Budget Crisis?

    Oakland, Calif., like many cities, is beginning an annual or biennial budget process and coming to terms with the stark realities of structural problems with its municipal budget. An overwhelming percentage of the budget each year is allocated to the…

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    Life Without Fossil Fuels

    Last fall, I wrote on Rooflines about people in intentional communities who engage with the market economy, even as they live a communal lifestyle that contrasts with the mainstream. When I moved to Louisa, Va., a couple years ago, there were…

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    3 Reasons We’re Not Reaching Rural Communities

    Rural communities are being ignored. Again. As discussion of the federal sequester and fights over funding dominate the news channels as well as policy discussions, key gaps in our ability to respond to individuals and households in need are being…

  • Police Train in Public Housing, Terrorize Neighboring Residents

    When Lauren Manning, a resident of the Ida Yarbrough Homes in Albany, NY, posted this public photo on her Facebook page, she probably didn't imagine that a week later it would have been shared almost 900 times and have generated…

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    5 Things Cities and CDCs Don’t Get About Code Enforcement

    In most circles, all you have to do is say "code enforcement" and people start mumbling about previous engagements. As I’ve been increasingly immersed in thinking about the future of urban neighborhoods, though, I find it looming large in my…

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    Places of the Heart

    Everyone has a story about third places—those gathering places that are not home or work—in the communities they have lived and worked. I wrote about some of mine in my editor's note for our package on the topic. We also…

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    More than Hair: Barbershops

    Last year when I was walking my neighborhood, flyering for the Tale of Two Cities march and feeling out of place as writer trying to be an organizer (in other words, I was feeling shy that day and daunted by…

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