- Who We Are
- What We Do
“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time.
Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”
– Joel Barker
We recognize that Heart & Soul Community Planning can only be as successful as the communities that pursue it. We designed this Handbook to help you unlock the potential in your town, and to share what we’ve learned from our partner project towns thus far.
We’ll be adding to the resource as additional work is completed, so check back often.
Questions, thoughts or feedback? Email us!
Check out our Heart & Soul Implementation Guides, which outline on-the-ground action designed to better prepare your town for successful implementation of a range of planning goals. These are the first five in a series of ten Implementation Guides, which will ultimately be published along with the Heart & Soul Handbook.
In 2008, the Orton Family Foundation began a $10 million, five-year initiative to develop a new approach to values-based community planning. This new way of building vibrant and enduring communities is designed to bring citizens back into the process of charting the future of their cities and towns. We call our approach “Heart & Soul Community Planning.”
We piloted Heart & Soul Community Planning in partnership with five communities in the Northeast and Rocky Mountain regions, testing new methods, tools and messages. Our early successes have inspired us to further refine this Heart & Soul approach and the tools and techniques for engagement and decision making.
What do building a house and designing a Heart & Soul Community Planning project have in common? Both require sound construction. Just as a good house fits the needs of its occupants and must bear all types of weather, your project has to fit the needs of your community and must be resilient enough to face the challenges that come its way. Both also require specific resources to get the job done.
The Project Coordinator will be critical to the success of your Heart & Soul Community Planning project. The coordinator must be mindful of far more than project management, and he or she will do more than coordinate. In our experience, coordinators have acted as coach, spokesperson, liaison, confidant, recorder, reporter, facilitator, observer, cheerleader, strategist, host, bull’s-eye, head cook and dishwasher, magnet, glue and referee.
Communications and outreach are essential to increasing public awareness, involving new voices and demonstrating transparency in your Heart & Soul Community Planning initiative. Using messages carefully framed to reach diverse audiences can have a surprising impact on how residents react to your efforts. Relevant language and effective outreach invite new discussions, relationships and discoveries.
A successful team, which implies active team building, is critical to any effective community effort. Team members provide leadership, legitimacy, skills, energy, sweat, and hours of work. They put the local in a local project, and as teammates they pull in the same direction toward concrete accomplishments.
Effective collaboration puts the heart and soul into an ordinary community project. Partnerships between organizations, individuals and regulating agencies means that a project will be able to access a broader array of perspectives and a deeper pool of talent, resources and energy. These partnerships will also help weave in complementary efforts and increase shared ownership for project outcomes and implementation. This Quick Guide is about building and maintaining the partnerships necessary for a successful Heart & Soul Community Planning project.
We often hear the refrain: “the same ten people are the only ones to get involved in planning.” We all know that there are many more people in your town who have a wealth of knowledge and energy that would be a boon to your community planning efforts. So, how do you figure out who, how to reach them, and what they might bring to your project? We’ve found that conducting a community network analysis is key to uncovering hitherto unrecognized potential and talent.
The challenges and rewards involved in engaging young people are rich and interesting enough that merely making the effort can add a layer of vitality and depth to your efforts. Some of these rewards are similar to those you will gain from engaging any group of community members: you can expand a project team’s talent pool; diversify and broaden participation; and identify new issues and new solutions. Other rewards are unique to young people, who have an uncanny ability to change the conversation by introducing new perspectives, reframing priorities, and taking the long view on an issue.
Everyone can share an experience that speaks to their connection to their community, no matter how long they’ve lived there, what their personal views are, or whether they’ve participated in planning activities before. These individual experiences can be woven together to create a common story—one that identifies common ground, discovers what people collectively value, and illuminates what makes a particular place special in a way that other planning activities cannot. The process of sharing and listening to stories also builds the trust and relationships necessary for long-term planning and community action.