Subject: Communities

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    Do Fences Prevent Good Neighbors?

    Lately I've been reading about places where communities are separated by fences. Not divided, as if they had previously been together. I mean places like Hamden, Conn., or the town of Mont-Royal in Montreal, where the wealthier community has literally…

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    Can Youngstown Make It On Its Own?

    Youngstown is a small city in the hills of northeast Ohio, once famous for steelmaking; and sadly, if famous for anything today, for economic distress and population loss. From a peak population of about 175, 000, it’s down today to…

  • Once a City Dweller, Always a City Dweller?

    Just how strong is the long-term allure of the city to young people today? Sure, cities don't have the great public schools and the super-safe streets of the suburbs and small towns. But what if it doesn't matter, because other…

  • The March of the Millennial Generation to the Cities is Real

    This past fall, the Washington Post ran a series called "The March of the Millennials" about how this generation is changing Washington D.C. For those of you who have been out of the loop for the last few years, ‘millennials’…

  • Better Business, Better Food…Better Community?

    At a grand opening for a new retail market operated by a farm family, celebrants posed for a group photo on the sidewalk and cheered as the farmer remarked on the importance he placed on his customers being able to…

  • Here’s How CDCs can Overcome the People-Based, Place-Based Gap

    “Self interest generalized is community interest” — Kenneth Jones, Community Organizer Throughout my experience in leading NeighborWorks America's Superstorm Sandy response, two critical aspects have continually been present: people-based and place-based needs. These themes lie at the heart of community…

  • Nelson Mandela was a Community Organizer

    Off the top of your head, what was Nelson Mandela's job title? "Icon?" Nope. "Inspiring speaker?" Nope. "National leader?" Nope. "World figure?" Nope. He was, of course, all of these things. Those words, however, fail to capture him completely, and in fact,…

  • You Put One Seed in the Ground, You Get Many in Return

    The passing of two annual events: Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate the harvest and by extension with family, and Black Friday, an event that encapsulates our consumer economy provided a timely bookend to last month's conversation on the ‘Ohana Economy. …

  • 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…

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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…

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