Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kansas City Effort Keeps Artists in Place

This story from Kansas City might interest you if your community is trying to retain artists in revitalizing areas seeing property tax increases. A pioneering program intended to prevent artists and art-related businesses in the Crossroads Arts District from being forced out by rising property values is nearing enactment. The plan, believed to be one of the more innovative in the nation, would freeze property taxes on eligible Crossroads properties for 10 years.
The proposed program has been in the works for several years and would be administered by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, a state-chartered local development agency. It is intended to help preserve the flavor of the Crossroads, one of the city's more eclectic and dynamic districts. The area, which sprawls between the central business district and Crown Center, has dozens of art galleries and artist studios and is a popular destination on First Fridays.
But the success of the Crossroads has become a threat to artists. Twenty years ago, when the neighborhood was relatively desolate, they could purchase buildings cheaply, pay low taxes and create art. Now developers, attracted to its improved atmosphere, are renovating buildings into condominiums, offices and retail. As a result, property values -- and taxes -- are shooting up.
Artist Jim Leedy reported three years ago his tax bill had jumped from $12,000 to $40,000 because of the rapidly rising property values. "This is important for cultural reasons and for the health of the whole community," Leedy said. "Developers are part of it, but we don't want them to forget that arts and crafts are part of this too."
Under the program, property owners must demonstrate to the PIEA board that at least 51 percent of the building is being used for art-related purposes. The owners also must agree to repair any blighted conditions associated with their property. The building would have its property tax frozen for 10 years. Should the use change, the tax abatement would end. The program also has penalties should the owner cheat.
An earlier version of the proposal that had been endorsed in January by the City Plan Commission called for the properties to receive a standard Chapter 353 tax abatement, 100 percent for 10 years followed by 50 percent for 15 years. That plan was amended, however, to the 10-year, 100 percent abatement. After 10 years, the council is expected to review the Crossroads Arts PIEA plan to determine whether it should be renewed, but the council also can terminate the program at anytime. The 10-year abatement on individual properties cannot be extended without permission of the council. Source: Kansas City Star, March 29, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hot Water: A Source of Competitive Advantage in Hot Springs

Hot Springs, Arkansas is an interesting place with an interesting history. Its highlight is Hot Springs National Park, but it can also claim two lakes and a wealth of beauty.
President Andrew Jackson declared Hot Springs the first National Reservation when he traveled here in 1832. It is now one of the country’s oldest and most visited national parks (it was declared a national park in 1921). Today, Hot Springs it the only American city located inside a national park.
Hot Spring was “discovered” by the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1541, but for thousands of years before Native Americans had enjoyed the rejuvenating natural warm waters.
There are 47 hot springs that flow at about a million gallons a day and at temperatures that average 140 degrees. The waters flow through many layers of rock and arrive at Hot Springs with almost 100 percent purity. This pure, warm water bathes visitors in comfort and warmth and so for hundreds of years now, people have traveled to Hot Springs to relax, rejuvenate, and heal. For many, it’s a spiritual experience, while others come to Hot Springs to enjoy the springs but also the recreation here which includes camping, hiking, and scenic drives.
Monumental bathhouses built along Bathhouse Row about that time catered to crowds of health seekers. These new establishments, full of the latest equipment, pampered the bather in artful surroundings. Marble and tile decorated floors, walls and partitions. Some rooms sported polished brass, murals, fountains, statues and even stained glass. Gymnasiums, and beauty shops helped cure seekers in their efforts to look and feel better.
Shortly after World War II, changes in medial technology and in the use of leisure time resulted in a decline in water therapies. People also began to prefer taking the open road in their own cars rather than traveling by train. One by one, the bathhouses began to close down as business began to decline.
Today Hot Springs is a popular tourist destination and is working at diversification of its economic base.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Approaching a Definition of "Conscious" Communities

Steve Woodall of Cherokee Nation asked me what I meant by "conscious" communities. His question was timely and made me think. Here is what I said to Steve:

I am working in the direction of a definition of conscious communities. I am hoping to find a way to “measure” the consciousness of communities. I’m trying to get at what the tag line says: Creating Places of Heightened Awareness and Expression. Right now, I would say conscious communities are communities that:

  • Cultivate the consciousness of their citizens and encourage heightened awareness and expression by their citizens.
  • Exhibit a sense of meaning and purpose that permeates the community in various ways.
  • Are reflective of the values and culture of their citizens.
  • Are responsive to the fundamental human needs of their citizens.
  • Are environmentally sound or sustainable.
  • Foster and support the financial and economic prosperity of their citizens.
  • Are civically engaged and aware.
  • Encourage and foster sound democratic and effective community leadership/stewardship.
  • Are accountable to their citizens.
  • Plan ahead and make investments in community building
  • Encourage and support the learning and education of their citizens.
  • Encourage and support the spiritual growth of their citizens.
  • Encourage and support the physical health of their citizens.
  • Encourage and support the happiness and psychological well-being of their citizens.
  • Encourage and support the growth of creativity in their citizens.
  • Encourage the building of social networks and relationships supporting their citizens.

To my new readers, I would ask: What does "conscious" community mean to you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Conscious Community: Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Legend has it, the name Tahlequah was chosen for the new homeland of the Cherokee Tribe upon their arrival from Georgia on the "Trail of Tears." Three chiefs were to meet and select its name, but when only two chiefs showed up for the meeting, they said "Tahlequah" which in the Cherokee language means "Two is enough."
Tahlequah has often been referred to as one of the most historically significant cities west of the Mississippi, and is located just 12 miles north of Tenkiller Lake on Highway 82. Rich in Native American history, Tahlequah is the home of the Cherokee Nation.
Three miles south of town is "Hunter’s Home" or the George M. Murrell homesite. The Murrell home is the only remaining antebellum home in Oklahoma.
Tahlequah has been voted one of the Best Small Towns in America. If you visit Tahlequah you will see why. It is a beautiful small town surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, meadows, and serene lakes and rivers.
Tahlequah is located in the "Lakes Country" of Northeastern Oklahoma in Cherokee County, with a population of 14,458 according to the 2000 census. The City of Tahlequah is the oldest municipality in Oklahoma by virtue of an incorporation act by the Cherokee National Council of 1843, more than half a century before Oklahoma gained statehood.
Tahlequah is unique in its location, centered in the midst of the Illinois River Valley, with Lake Tenkiller and Lake Fort Gibson close by to provide unlimited recreation and beautiful scenery for the enjoyment of our citizens as well as the many tourists and travelers who pass our way.
Northeastern State University and the headquarters of the Cherokee Nation are also located here and are great assets to our area, providing many job opportunities.
The Cherokee Nation is the second largest Indian tribe in the United States. There are more than 200,000 tribal members. Almost 70,000 of these Cherokees reside in the 7,000 square mile area of the Cherokee Nation which is not a reservation, but a jurisdictional service area that includes all of eight counties and portions of six in northeastern Oklahoma.
Today, the Cherokee Nation is a leader in education, housing, vocational training, business and economic development. I have had the unique opportunity to work with the tribe on several economic development projects.
As a federally-recognized Indian tribe, the Cherokee Nation has both the opportunity and the sovereign right to exercise control and development over tribal assets, which includes 66,000 acres of land, as well as 96 miles of the Arkansas Riverbed.
Note on Images Inluded: These are photos that evoke a "feeling" about Tahlequah's "consciousness." That is why they have been included. #1: Old Ford in field near Tahlequah; #2: Old Baptist Church sign; #3: Northeastern Oklahoma State University campus; and #4: Cherokee Chief Chad Smith and family.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This Is Smart Growth Publication

More communities are working to grow in a smart manner; that is to grow in a high quality and balanced way. It is possible to do this.
A new publication by Smart Growth Network (SGN) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), This is Smart Growth, is a layman-friendly survey of how a number communities and developers have worked together to create innovative projects that accommodate growth while preserving what's best about a place. With copious photos and illustrations, the guide demonstrates how principles of smart growth have been put into play in this creative time of rethinking how development is done.
This Is Smart Growth describes how, when done well, development can help create more economic opportunities, build great places where people want to live and visit, preserve the qualities people love about their communities, and protect environmental resources. Many people want to know what smart growth looks like; This Is Smart Growth illustrates and explains smart growth concepts and outcomes.
The publication features 40 places around the country, from cities to suburbs to small towns to rural communities, where good development has improved residents' quality of life. Photos illustrate how these communities have invested taxpayer money wisely, offered people more choices in housing and transportation, protected natural and working lands, promoted healthy environments, created a lasting legacy for the community, and achieved other accomplishments.
Download This is Smart Growth (8.5'' x 11'' version) (32 pages/2.5mb)
Download This is Smart Growth (8.5'' x 14'' version -- note legal size paper) (32 pages/5.2mb)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Michigan Suburbs Struggling Financially

The world of local government finance has seen better days, to say the least. I find communities across the country are struggling to make ends meet. We have been working in Southfield, MI and have some insight into a recent news story describing what a large number of Michigan suburban communities are wrestling with. Call it the "first suburb effect," if you like. It's not good.
A greater, and hopefully new financial consciousness needs to emerge in local government. This new consciousness must go beyond just cutting services and reducing spending. Local governments must continue innovating on new ways to finance their responsibilities and new ways of working with their neighbors and state government. Regionalism is a reality that more suburban communities must come to accept. Look for more on this issue in the near future.
If you are a Michigan suburb, here is a taste of what you are up against:
• Voter-approved Proposal A, which limits increases in a property's taxable value to the inflation rate or less until a property is sold. Only then does it increase to the market value.
• The voter-approved Headlee Amendment, which limits revenue growth in local governments to the inflation rate unless there is new development in a community.
• Since 2001, the state has cut more than $400 million annually from the sales tax revenue it shares with local governments, a funding source that provides as much as one-quarter of all revenue in some communities.
• State law requires binding arbitration in police and firefighters' salary disputes, saddling some communities with costs they say they cannot afford.
• Some city charters require minimum staffing of police and firefighters, squeezing the rest of the budget.
• Retiree health-care costs have been rising by 10% or more annually and exceed what many communities pay to insure active workers
Some communities have raised taxes, but that can require complicated city charter amendments. More than half of Michigan's cities levy the maximum tax allowed under their charters, the Michigan Municipal League says.
"The current funding model for local government is unsustainable," said Paul Tait, executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).
Many communities have been tapping rainy day funds to cover deficits, but that can't last forever. Auditors recommend 10% to 20% of the annual budget be kept in savings to manage cash flow and cover unexpected expenses such as legal judgments.
Read more here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Historic Images of Cobalt, Ontario

For thousands of years the vast mineral wealth of Northern Ontario lay underground undiscovered.
Mother Nature gave up some of those riches with the discovery of silver in Cobalt by two railway tie contractors - James McKinley and Ernest Darragh. They followed their dreams of gold all the way to the California gold fields only to come back empty-handed. Their luck was about to change.
In August of 1903, while under contract during the construction of the newly formed Temiskaming & Northern Ontario (T. & N.O.) Railway at Long Lake, they found the "glittering rocks" of men's dreams.
"They had learned to test nuggets by biting them with their teeth. When they tested the 'glittering rocks' they knew they had found native silver." - Yankee Takeover of Cobalt, John Murphy
The Silver Rush was on! Prospectors, miners, speculators, and financiers came from all over the world to search for silver, stake claims, form mining companies, and extract riches of silver at unprecedented levels to create a boom town like no other: Cobalt - "the best old town I know."
"As a source of silver riches, the Cobalt area led the world in yielding a phenomenal 460 million ounces. That is about US$2 billion worth of silver at today's prices. In Cobalt's peak year, 1911, 34 mines produced some 30 million ounces."
- Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
Remarkably, the silver fortunes extracted far exceeded those made from Klondike gold. Cobalt silver helped drive the economy of Ontario - just out of a deep 1890's North American economic depression. It helped increase the wealth of Canadian Banks and attracted the financing for mining exploration and development. It produced a large number of Canadian millionaires and allowed for great investment in the Toronto Stock Exchange. Some would say, "Cobalt built Bay Street."
Cobalt silver funded the expansion of the T. & N. O. Railway that opened up Northern Ontario. It led to a new awareness of the rich natural resources of Canada. Cobalt mines were on the leading edge of mining technology. Great innovations in silver ore extraction took place. Power was generated for the entire mining site by compressed air systems at Ragged Chutes. The Haileybury School of Mines was established to train generations of mining engineers whose alumni would go on to develop mines all over Canada and throughout the world.
However, by the 1980's, most of the region's silver had been rendered from the earth and mining activity slowed. Cobalt's population dwindled to a fraction of its former self. The mines of former glory closed and lay dormant, and began to rust back into nature. It goes without saying that the people of Cobalt have tremendous pride in their town "the cradle of Canadian mining."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Branding: Learning from Louisville, KY

There have been many campaigns to promote Louisville over the years, but this is the first effort to consider the Louisville brand in its entirety and embark on location branding.
Location branding isn't a new concept: cities, states, regions, and countries around the globe are embracing branding strategies to achieve competitive advantages and to increase tourism, to recruit and retain talent, and to attract new businesses. Louisville wants to reveal what it is that makes its region attractive and special, and then communicate it to the rest of the world.
Community Branding: The Nuts and Bolts
What's Branding?
  • A brand is the relationship between the user and the product or service, or in the case of location branding, the place.
  • A brand describes the emotions and experiences users have when they interact with a place.
  • A brand defines the central, timeless essence or soul of this place and its intangible, emotional core.
  • A brand exists in the mind of the user and connects the user's own personal identity with that experience.
  • A brand consists of a powerful set of promises that deliver a relevant and distinctive experience, promising the same feelings and experiences every time the product or service is used, or the place is experienced.
  • A brand is not a slogan or a logo or an ad campaign. These are the marketing elements that help convey the brand, but are not the brand itself.
  • A brand must be relevant, differentiated from the competition, highly regarded, believable, and have emotional value.

Learn more about Louisville's branding effort.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Arizona's Maricopa Leads Counties in Population Growth Since 2000

Maricopa County, Ariz., gained 696,000 residents between 2000 and 2006, the largest numerical increase of the nation’s 3,141 counties, according to estimates releasedby the U.S. Census Bureau.
This increase surpasses the total population of all but 15 U.S. cities. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has 3.8 million residents, making it the nation’s fourth largest county.
“The dramatic increase in Maricopa County’s population is the main reason Arizona became the nation’s fastest-growing state between 2005 and 2006,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon, referring to the state population estimates released last December. “Maricopa’s growth has been remarkable, adding nearly 3 million residents since the 1970 census.”
Harris County, Texas, had the second largest numeric increase between 2000 and 2006, at 486,000, and totaled 3.9 million. Riverside, Calif. (481,000); Los Angeles (429,000); and Clark, Nev. (402,000) rounded out the top five county gainers. (See Table 1.)
Among the 20 fastest-growing counties from 2000 to 2006, 13 were in the South, four in the West and three in the Midwest.
Among the 10 counties that added the largest number of residents between 2000 and 2006, three were in Texas (Harris, Tarrant and Collin), three in California (Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino), one in Georgia (Gwinnett) and one in Illinois (Will). Among the 20 counties with the largest numeric gains, 19 were in the South or West.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Counties with Highest Percent Bachelors Degrees, 2003

Educational attainment is a major factor driving the growth of high skilled and knowledge-based jobs in communities. This table shows all U.S. counties that had 40% or more of their population age 25 years and older that had a Bachelors Degree in 2003. (Click on the table to enlarge it.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Oberlin College: Conscious College

Oberlin College, founded in 1833, is an independent coeducational institution. It comprises two divisions, the College of Arts and Sciences, with about 2,200 students, and the Conservatory of Music, with about 600 enrolled. Oberlin offers bachelor of arts and bachelor of music degree programs, as well as a combined five-year program leading to both degrees. Selected master's degree programs are offered in the Conservatory, and starting in June of 2007, a Masters in Education program will also be offered.
Learn more about Oberlin from its Statement of Goals and Objectives.
The presence of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music on one campus is rare and enriching. Students in the College and Conservatory share residences and dining facilities as part of a single academic community. Most Conservatory students take academic work in the College of Arts and Sciences, and each year more than one-third of the College students take applied music or courses in the Conservatory.
Oberlin's size, residential character, diversity and selectivity provide an atmosphere highly conducive to intellectual and personal growth. Its faculty of teacher-scholars has traditionally emphasized both academic achievement and individual development. Oberlin students participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities on the campus.
Oberlin College is highly selective and dedicated to recruiting students from diverse backgrounds. Oberlin was the first truly coeducational college in the United States, as well as an early leader in educating black students.
Oberlin College is accredited by the North Central Association of College and Secondary Schools, the National Association of Schools of Music, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
The College is located in the city of Oberlin, with a population of 8,600.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Most Green Places

Smaller City Rankings
1 Burlington-South Burlington, VT
2 Ithaca, NY
3 Corvallis, OR
4 Springfield, MA
5 Wenatchee, WA
6 Charlottesville, VA
7 Boulder, CO
8 Madison, WI
9 Binghamton, NY
10 Champaign-Urbana, IL
11 Ann Arbor, MI
12 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
13 La Crosse, WI-MN
14 Pittsfield, MA
15 Eau Claire, WI
16 Durham, NC
17 Norwich-New London, CT
18 Eugene-Springfield, OR
19 San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA
20 Chico, CA
21 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
22 Barnstable Town, MA
23 Utica-Rome, NY
24 Missoula, MT
25 Asheville, NC
The Best Green Places study, which is based on data discovered by Sperling's BestPlaces, examines 24 data metrics in 5 major categories -- including air and watershed quality, mass transit usage, power usage, farmers markets, organic producers, and number of green-certified buildings -- to determine which metro areas are the best places to live a green life.
Sperling's BestPlaces ranked the 379 major metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Over 80 percent of all U.S. residents live in these 379 metro areas. Data was collected from sources which include the Census Source: Sperling's Places Rated

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Conscious Communities Gets Recognition

The Pew Partnership for Civic Change's Smart Communities Blog listed Conscious Communities as one of the most engaging blogs out there. This acknowledgement is very much appreciated. Thank you.
Check out Suzanne's Smart Communities Blog.

Friday, March 16, 2007

100 Most Wealthy Communities, with Populations of 10,000-50,000 People

Most wealthy U.S. communities with populations in the 10,000 to 50,000 range. (Click table to enlarge it.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don Iannone on Community Economic Leadership

As many of you know, I have been doing research on and speaking about economic development leadership issues over the past couple years.
If you would like a sample of my thoughts on economic development leadership, please feel free to click on this link and download a 2005 keynote presentation I gave at the Pacific-Northwest Economic Development Council's Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.
I would be most interested in your thoughts. Email me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Glimpse of Boise, Idaho

Boise is the capital and the most populous city of the State of Idaho. Boise was given its name after French-Canadian trappers first explored the area after crossing the arid desert plains. Finding green trees at the site, primarily cottonwoods along the river, they named it boisé (meaning "wooded"). Boise has consequently been given the nickname City of Trees.
The original Fort Boise was 40 miles west, down the Boise River, near the confluence with the Snake River at the Oregon border. This fort was erected by the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1830s. It was abandoned in the 1850s, but massacres along the Oregon Trail prompted the U.S. Army to re-establish a fort in the area in 1863, during the U.S. Civil War. The new location was selected because it was near the intersection of the Oregon Trail and a major road connecting the Boise Basin (Idaho City) and the Owyhee mining areas, both booming at the time.
Idaho City was the largest city in the area, but the new Fort Boise grew rapidly (as a staging area to Idaho City) and Boise was incorporated as a city in 1864. The first capital of Idaho was Lewiston, but Boise replaced it in 1865. As of the 2000 census, Boise's population was 185,787. According to the 2005 Census estimates, the city proper had an estimated population of 193,161. Downtown Boise is at an elevation of 2704 feet above sea level.
Boise is the headquarters for several major companies, such as Washington Group International (successor to Morrison Knudsen), Micron Technology, Albertsons (a major supermarket chain now owned by SuperValu), the J.R. Simplot Company and Hewlett Packard's printer division. Other major industries are headquartered in Boise or have large manufacturing facilities there. High Tech industries are becoming increasingly vital to Boise's economy. State government is one of the city's main employers, as it is the capital city for Idaho and home of Boise State University. Boise is the county seat of Ada County and the principal city of the Boise metropolitan area, the Treasure Valley.
Boise has grown considerably in recent years and is now comparable in size to other midsize cities at the center of their own metropolitan areas in the United States such as Grand Rapids, Des Moines, Tulsa, and Providence.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Earlham College: Conscious Institution

Because of my work in Richmond, Indiana, I have gotten to know Earlham College better. This is a "conscious institution" that imparts consciousness to its community.
Founded in 1847 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Earlham College is an independent, four-year, coeducational, residential institution of higher learning.
Among the nation's academically strongest liberal arts colleges, Earlham develops in its students broad and deep competencies in both traditional and emerging disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields.
Moreover, the College educates students to live and work effectively together with others; to value lifelong learning; to appreciate cultural, ethnic and religious diversity; and to become engaged global citizens.
Earlham Community Principles:
Respect for Persons
Integrity
Peace and Justice
Simplicity
Consensus Governance

Monday, March 12, 2007

Boulder, Colorado's New Pioneers

According to Webster's New World dictionary, a pioneer is “one who goes before, preparing the way for others.”
The individuals honored as Boulder's “New Pioneers” are aptly named.They are leading our community, and the world, with their innovative achievements and contributions.
2006 Honorees:
Henry Beer Richard Foy Lorrie Shepard Rich Castro Michael Gilliland Mo Siegel Libby Cook Janet Martin Rick Sterling Steve Demos Andy Pruitt Otis Taylor Helen Forster Michael Rice Stephen White Nick Forster Robert Scaer Rona Wilensky

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Chautauqua Institution

The Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre educational center beside Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and a total of over 142,000 attend scheduled public events. Over 8,000 students enroll annually in the Chautauqua Summer Schools which offer courses in art, music, dance, theater, writing skills and a wide variety of special interests.
The Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was successful and broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education.
Read more about the Chautauqua Institution here.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Top Rated College Towns

College towns are special places. The higher education institutions they host are magnets for information, knowledge, creativity, art, and culture. You might agrument these places have a special advantage as "conscious communities." Which are the top rated ones nationally?
Here is what ePodunk says...
Big Cities
1 Boston-Cambridge, MA
2 Minneapolis, MN
3 Denver, CO
4 Columbus, OH
5 Seattle, WA
6 Atlanta, GA
7 Austin, TX
8 Washington, DC
9 Cincinnati, OH
10 Saint Louis, MO
Medium Sized Cities
1 Columbia, SC
2 Tallahassee, FL
3 Madison, WI
4 Urbana-Champaign, IL
5 Ann Arbor, MI
6 Berkeley, CA
7 Athens, GA
8 Fort Collins, CO
9 New Haven, CT
10 Provo, UT
Small Cities
1 Charlottesville, VA
2 Bozeman, MT
3 Hays, KS
4 Boulder, CO
5 Missoula, MT
6 Manhattan, KS
7 Burlington, VT
8 Bismarck, ND
9 Iowa City, IA
10 Chapel Hill, NC
Towns
1 Hanover, NH
2 Princeton, NJ
3 Brookings, SD
4 Middlebury, VT
5 Durango, CO
6 Bronxville, NY
7 Menomonie, WI
8 Oneonta, NY
9 Rolla, MO
10 Conway, SC
Source: ePodunk

Friday, March 9, 2007

Creative Communities

The mission of Creative Communities is to expand access to serious, progressive instruction in the performing, literary and visual arts for children and youth living in public housing communities in order to improve their quality of life and promote skills leading to greater self-sufficiency. Through a competitive application process, 20 community schools of the arts and their housing partners were awarded three-year grants of $135,000 to implement Creative Communities projects in their respective cities.
Integral to the success of the Creative Communities mission is the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts’ role in providing training and technical assistance to each of the 20 sites. The National Guild is also responsible for the initiative’s strategic planning; evaluation; sharing of best practices and marketing strategies.
Creative Communities is more than a "project." It is an arts education, youth development and community building strategy that partners community schools of the arts with their local housing authorities to provide youth in public housing communities with high quality, sequential arts instruction during non-school hours and on weekends. The National Guild, through a cooperative agreement with the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is responsible for the overall implementation of the Initiative in 20 separate states. Creative Communities represents a $4.65 million investment in and commitment to community arts education.
One example of a Creative Communities Project is the Cleveland Public Theatre.
Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT), founded in 1981, presents performed work that addresses the issues and challenges of modern life. It is CPT’s philosophy that the arts can literally change the world, enhancing the quality of life in the community, and enhancing the dignity of human beings with whom the arts come in contact. CPT seeks to achieve this objective through the strategic selection of programming and through the investment of its resources in artists and communities that are traditionally "under served." CPT’s mission to bring arts into the lives of under served populations extends naturally into its educational program. Since its inception, CPT has been conducting free theatre classes for youth, focusing on inner city teenagers and their needs for a creative avenue for healthy self-expression.
Partnering with the Free Clinic and Safe Space (a runaway shelter), Cleveland Public Theatre began workshops for teenagers in 1985. Offering theatre classes for local youth, CPT expanded its classes into a full educational program in 1990, creating CLEVELAND ACT NOW!, which began building theatre education partnerships in the Cleveland Public Schools using the excitement of theatre arts as a powerful tool for nurturing personal, social, academic and artistic growth.
Cleveland Public Theatre: www.cptonline.org

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Top Issues for Small Towns

According to the Boomtown Institite, here are the top ten issues facing small towns in America:
1. Sense of Place - What unique attributes set you apart from other towns? It started in the revitalization of downtowns and has spread to arts and recreational assets. Trails, agri-tourism, recreational land, bird watching and other non-traditional assets are becoming increasingly important in developing a special sense of place for a community.
2. Green - Alternative energy such as wind, solar, ethanol and biodiesel are changing communities and creating some very unique new opportunities. Green products and buildings are gaining in usage. Branding examples like Bio Town, IN are leading edge.
3. Art Meccas - Emerging art towns that are actively recruiting in artists who want to own their own studio/house, which an amazingly small number of artists are able to do in larger cities. Paducah, KY is the best example but much smaller towns are emerging (e.g. Cordell, OK and Palestine, IL).
4. Third Coast - Led by “halfbackers” who moved to a coastal state but because of rising costs, congestion and other headaches are moving half-way back home. Draw a line from MT down to AZ and across to NC. These states/regions along this line have some unique opportunities to take advantage of this trend.
5. Non-PMS Entrepreneurs - The traditional “Pale, Male & Stale” entrepreneur is being supplanted by females, minorities, immigrants and others. This trend will explode with the millennial generation, the most entrepreneurial generation in the history of the USA.
6. Taste of Place - People are beginning to value the place through its products, mostly food related. It started with wine but is spreading to cheese, honey, maple syrup, olive oil and other products.
7. Labor Shortage - Quickly developing into a major impediment in many rural towns. Some are starting to tap into their “brain banks” of former residents to solve.
8. Angel Investor Networks - Growing from only 20 to over 250 in the last 10 years, these generally regional initiatives are growing in importance. States like WI and IA have incentivated with investment tax credits, which more states will follow.
9. Local - The spinach scare followed by the green onion debacle at Taco Bell’s in 2006 is causing people to reevaluate their food sources. Local production is going to be increasingly prized.
10. Regionalism - As the world becomes smaller, the political boundaries of the 18th Century become less important. Visionary leaders are embracing the concept of regionalism to enhance the opportunities for their citizens.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

New Census Reports on Racial and Ethnic Demographics

These three reports present a portrait of racial and ethnic population groups in the United States based on data from the 2004 American Community Survey. Each report provides information on a number of characteristics (e.g., education, household type, income, commuting, etc.).
Data are presented in tables, figures, and maps. In addition, the Asian and Hispanic reports present data for selected detailed groups (Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese for Asians; Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Colombians, Ecuadorians, and Peruvians for Hispanics). Two additional reports on the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population and the American Indian and Alaska Native population will be released later this year.
Download the reports here:
American Community, Hispanics, 2004
American Community, Blacks, 2004
American Community, Asians, 2004

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Community Psychology

Understanding the psychology of communities is important to conscious community-building. There is a field of community psychology. What is it all about?
Community psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with person-environment interactions and the ways society impacts upon individual and community functioning. Community psychology focuses on social issues, social institutions, and other settings that influence individuals, groups, and organizations.
Community psychology is about understanding people within their social worlds and using this understanding to improve people's well-being. Researchers systematically examine the ways individuals interact with other individuals, social groups, clubs, churches, schools, families, neighborhoods, and the larger culture and environment. It is an applied discipline where researchers examine various social issues including poverty, substance abuse, school failure, community development, economic development, risk and protective factors, empowerment, diversity, prevention, intervention, delinquency, high risk behaviors, aggression, violence, and many other topics.
Learn more about community psychology here.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Economic Development Leader: New Blog

Dear Reader:
For those of you interested in leadership issues, you may find my new blog, Economic Development Leader, to be of interest. Click here to access ED Leader.
Don Iannone

Leader as Steward

My thinking about leadership has shifted dramatically as a result of my strategic planning work with communities and regions. Increasingly, I have been giving emphasis to leaders as stewards; a concept I initially learned from the noted organization and leadership guru, Peter Senge. Here is what Senge has to say on the leader as steward.
By stewardship. Senge means that someone (or perhaps some group) within the organization needs to accept responsibility for ensuring that everyone who works in the organization is clear about why it exists.
In economic development, that means engendering broad-based prosperity, innovation, and competitiveness in an area. All three are needed, and together they explain why we are here; that is why economic development exists as a field.
In the "learning" organization, Senge (1990) says everything we do is connected to learning. Learning enables organizations to become successful in achieving their goals. This is also true for ED organizations.
As stewards, it is important that the leaders of an ED organization, including the ED CEO, be charged with ensuring that the organization's vision is put into practice, and that the decisions that are made on a day-to-day basis are consistent with the vision.
The act of stewardship means being entrusted with the responsibility for something. ED leaders are entrusted with the invaluable economic assets of a community, region or state.
Reference:
Senge, Peter, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Doubleday, 1990.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Friday, March 2, 2007

U.S. EPA's Green Communities Program

EPA's Green Communities Program is a web-based toolkit and planning guide designed to help communities access the tools and information to help them become more sustainable, Green Communities.
The Green Communities toolkit is closely linked, for many communities, to the concept of smart growth. EPA's Smart Growth web page describes smart growth as development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment. It changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth-no growth question to "how and where should new development be accommodated"
Learn more here.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

What Does Conscious Mean?

Conscious means having an awareness of one's inner and outer worlds; that is being mentally and emotionally perceptive, awake, and mindful. Yes, despite the protests from some, emotions are very real and important to our consciousness. See what Daniel Goleman has to say about this point.
Generally, when we concern ourselves with communities, we focus attention on outer realities. We concern ourselves with the physical or material dimension of communities, including downtown areas, neighborhoods, business areas, etc. We concern ourselves with what happens at the local community center or city hall. That's understandable, but not enough.
We also need to give attention to the inner realities of the people who live, work and play in communities. This is where our ideas, feelings, perceptions, desires, and so much more reside. These inner realities are what we bring forth into the outer world of community. Inner realities are very powerful and need much greater recognition as we work on conscious community-building.
And folks, it's more than marketing. So many times people reduce the inner reality dimension in these discussions to what type of marketing strategy a community should adopt to shape perceptions about the community. That is not the idea here! Most marketing is dishonest, manipulative, disingenuous, and it does a disservice to the human experience. Don't go there.
That being said, I see two interrelated challenges that must be met:
  • Build more conscious communities that create an environment in which greater consciousness can grow in citizens, business executives and owners, elected officials, public servants, educators, religious leaders, artists and creative types, and other stakeholders.
  • Develop more conscious people that can work together in giving birth to more conscious communities. Perhaps we should work on creating more conscious leaders! These conscious people must possess great self-awareness, as well as awareness of others. Self-awareness is almost always a prerequisite to other-awareness. As Plato reminds us "The unexamined life is not worth living."

The question is how do we tackle these twin challenges. Here are a few starting thoughts:

  • Create experiences allowing people to expand their consciousness of what a community is all about. This is more than telling them about this or that in the community. People need to experience the community first-hand through visits, meetings, conversations, and other vehicles. They need multi-sensory experiences that engage all of the senses, not just our visual sense. People need to develop a sense of place and also here. Getting a sense of the power of place is also important. Also try this power of place website.
  • Create experiences allowing people to increase their self-awareness and other-awareness in communities. What mental images do people have about themselves, others, and the community in an overall sense? Guided imagery is a powerful technique in helping people gain this awareness.

These are two starting points. What are your ideas? I would enjoy hearing them.