Creating and Maintaining a Good Community Works Better With Some Knowledge

Last Updated: June 13, 2024

Community work can be both fascinating and intensely frustrating. It takes real work to sustain or create a good community bit by bit. As a seasoned urban planning professional, I enjoy nothing more than helping ordinary people figure out how they can address the challenges and opportunities of their neighborhoods. On this website I try to give you the insight and knowledge you need to improve your particular geographic place, whether a major metropolis, declining or emerging neighborhood, small city, quaint village, or rural enclave. 

Our goal is to talk about common community and neighborhood issues in plain English, emphasizing uncommon candor, a point of view, and a sense of humor.  Expect a conversational style, good background information you will need to bring about change, and good general advice on what usually works and what does not.


Community Work Topics On This Website

Below are links to the different sections of the website;  start poking around if that's your style. If you have something specific in mind, use the site search box at the top of each page. This introductory article continues below the navigation.

Many of you probably want to dive right into some community improvement projects. The site contains myriad ideas you might want to explore as an informal or formally selected neighborhood leader.   Both large and small projects, long-range and immediate, and easy and difficult projects can be found in these pages.

Community improvement concepts, ideas, and specifics found here are also practical for those who find themselves appointed or elected to a planning commission, board of adjustment, town council, neighborhood association board, or water district board, for example. 

While this website does not delve into theory very often, I do explain the jargon that professionals use so you can understand the conversations and feel secure about becoming involved. 

In a previous version of this website, we used the term community development very frequently. In my world, community development is anything you are doing to make or keep a good community.  In the U.S., often the term community development is seen as nearly synonymous with housing issues, especially those dealing with affordability and neighborhood revitalization.   As critical as your housing stock is, we just think there are many additional topics to cover.  

If you are action-oriented and want to begin with comparatively simple initiatives, delve into some community beautification projects.

However, for greatest long-range impact, we can help with the challenging prospect of learning how to make your community organizations more effective, or perhaps how to form a new one. Often in urban areas, the urge for a new neighborhood association arises as part of a perceived need for crime prevention.  But there are many other good reasons to increase trust and problem-solving ability among neighbors in any and every type of community.

Regardless of the size, type, or wealth of the community, all will benefit from thoughtful city planning.  As we explain in more detail in that section, someone is always making plans for your village, town, or city, but those of us who care about outcomes want to assure thoughtful deliberation about creating a future that is in the public interest.

In the U.S. at least, planning is legally required to precede land use zoning, which has become quite a complex web of law and custom. We try to simplify that complex topic, while explaining where another large body of municipal activity, code enforcement, fits in. A few other forms of public or private regulation also are described on the pages of the zoning and codes section.

Almost everyone who becomes deeply involved in community work has to deal with all of these subjects to some degree. However, I built an entire section around topics that some of you will need to learn about in detail, while others may safely ignore that information. So in the community challenges, common topics, and concepts section, you will find sub-sections about economic development, sprawl, sustainability, redevelopment, crime prevention, and the terminology of planning and community development.

We also host an  extensive section of visitor-originated questions, which our editors and I attempt to answer.  Check out that section, where you can send a question and receive an answer on a page on this website. Never fear, you can be anonymous.  I will answer everything that I can understand and where I think I can add some value, unless of course that is already answered on the site. Use the search bar before asking your question.  In some cases, you can tell stories about your community work too; just follow directions of the various forms.


How to Interact with this Site About Making and Keeping a Good Community

To get started, explore the site.  You can jump around on the menu, or use the search bar to find a specific word. There are more than 800 pages of information, perspective, opinion, and insight. Logical thinkers can use the sitemap

You might want to sign up for the monthly email called Good Community Plus. Typically it lists all of the new pages that were added the previous month, including of course the site visitors' questions that have been answered.

Another way to keep in touch is to notice that the first few lines from recently added or significantly revised pages appear on this home page and in a feature known as What's New. We may add other news bits that are either short or time-sensitive there as well.

Have fun getting to know more about how you can be an ongoing part of A Good Community.


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