Subject: Communities

  • Do the Roads Belong to All of Us?

    The other day at a planning board meeting, I heard someone claim that all the roads from the nearest shopping center to their house, a distance of at least three miles, were "residential roads." That was a new one to…

  • What’s The Matter With Atlantic City?

    Over the past few months, there’s been a drumbeat of bad news coming out of Atlantic City. Since the beginning of 2014, four casinos have closed, including Revel, which the state of New Jersey granted $261 million in tax breaks…

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    After HUD: Seeking New Answers to Old Questions

    Three years at HUD gives you quite the perspective.  Ask anyone who has worked in the esteemed Weaver Building—affectionately known as 12 floors of basement (you’ve got to include the actual basement and the sub-basement!)—and you will hear a litany…

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    Answers from Red States for Our Broken Criminal Justice System

    Left, right or center, few dispute that our criminal justice system is broken. But two new and thrilling victories this month are giving real hope to activists who want more effective and humane crimes policies.  In a largely "red" state," Missouri,…

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    Getting Together—Using National Gatherings to Learn from Each Other

    Given our national economic climate and the growing recognition of collaborative, place-based and culturally-grounded approaches, it is only fitting then that the theme of the National CAPACD 14th Annual Convention was "The Movement for Economic Justice: Changing the Narrative Together,"…

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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…

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