Heart & Soul Resources

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The strength of a community lies in the hands of its residents.  We are committed to filling those hands with the best available tools, both ones we've developed in our Heart & Soul™ towns and others that we've used, found exceptional, and can recommend to you.  We'll be offering many more useful Heart & Soul Resources in the coming months, so check back and look for cool tools to help you do your job better.  Better still, click here to subscribe to our email newsletter so you can learn about new resources just by visiting your in-box.

Community Heart & Soul® Field Guide

Community Heart & Soul is a barn-raising approach to community planning and development designed to increase participation in local decision-making and empower residents to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place. The Field Guide details step by step, the four phase Community Heart & Soul methodology  that was researched and developed over a decade, including nine towns in New England and the Rocky Mountains.    Download PDF

Forming Your Heart & Soul Team

The thought of forming a committee makes most people groan, so when you are launching into a Heart & Soul project, don't form a committee.  Instead, form a TEAM and everyone will pull in the same direction and get things accomplished. Download PDF

Selecting a Heart & Soul Coordinator

A qualified coordinator is vital to the success of Community Heart & SoulTM.  The Coordinator must be mindful of far more than project management, and he or she will do more than coordinate.  Here's how to select a Project Coordinator that will make your whole project a success. Download PDF

Community Network Analysis Tool

There are many people in your town who have a wealth of knowledge and energy that would be a boon to your community planning efforts. Conducting a community network analysis is key to unlocking unrecognized potential and talent. Download PDF

Outreach and Communications 

Effective communications is an essential element of any Community Heart & Soul project. This resource will guide you through getting the word out about your project to a broad cross-section of the community and keeping the flow of information about the project and activities open, accessible, and transparent. Download PDF

Public Engagement Methods

This guide outlines practical ways to design an engagement program and offers a list of specific methods that have proven to be useful and meaningful. If you’re working on a Community Heart & Soul effort, use this guide to identify methods that will help you communicate with and engage the community through all phases of Heart & Soul. Even if you’re in a full-on Heart & Soul process, this resource introduces new methods and tools for any outreach and public engagement effort. Download PDF

Creating a Heart & Soul Project Work Plan

Thoughtfully designing a comprehensive engagement and planning process is no simple task, and we’ve found that breaking it down into manageable parts makes the job a lot easier. We recommend three integrated elements: define the project; build a community engagement plan; and detail the project work plan. Download PDF

Using Storytelling in Community Heart & Soul

Storytelling is a key element of Community Heart & Soul™ because it connects people with what they love most about their town. In Heart & Soul, those personal and emotional connections to place are translated, leading to shared values and laying a foundation for future plans and actions. This free resource offers a step-by-step approach to incorporating storytelling into your town’s Community Heart & Soul process in a way that gets the information needed for meaningful and successful results. Download PDF

Using Keypad Polling in Community Heart & Soul

Keypad polling can be a fun and informative way to introduce Heart & Soul to community members. It is also a great tool to find agreement on proposed Heart & Soul Statements and the future direction of the community. Download PDF

Making Meaning from Qualitative Data: A Guide to Managing and Analyzing Your Heart & Soul Data

To honor resident ideas and opinions you need to keep organized and transparent records, use residents’ own words to the greatest extent possible, and analyze and incorporate their feedback into summaries and a plan that reflects their contributions. To make sense—and use—of the stories you hear, you must treat the information in them like data. This guide tells you how to do that. Download PDF

Developing Heart & Soul Statements

Heart & Soul Statements are the distillation into clear, concise language of what matters most to residents. These statements are a fundamental focus of Heart & Soul because they help towns prioritize actions and guide future decisions, ensuring that the community’s heart and soul is strengthened and that the community grows more resilient. Download PDF

Stewarding the Future of Our Communities

This work by Steven Ames represents the results of a major research project conducted for the Craig Byrne Fellows Program of the Orton Family Foundation.  It addresses the challenges of stewarding local community engagement and planning, and is available here as a free download. Download PDF

Enhancing Local Character

The character of a community inspires civic pride and economic vitality. Use this resource to identify actions that can enhance your community’s distinctiveness and sustainability. Download PDF

Encouraging Inclusive, Open Government

Local governments are learning that a cooperative, transparent approach is more effective and efficient than a closed-door approach. Use this resource to support your community’s progress toward good governance. Download PDF

Supporting Homes for All

Housing choice and affordability can attract positive growth and support diverse community relationships. Use this resource to build your community’s opportunities for accessible housing for all ages and backgrounds. Download PDF

Fostering a Vibrant Local Economy

Local businesses and employment are the cornerstones of any prosperous community. Use this resource to prepare your community to steward its local economy long into the future. Download PDF

Fostering a Sense of Community

A strong sense of community generates social capital in the form of volunteerism, civic engagement, and a high quality of life. Use this resource to understand and foster the special attributes that make your town a great place to live. Download PDF