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Useful Community Plus
April 23, 2020

Three Quick Things While You Stay at Home
April, 2020

Visit us at the Useful Community Development Website

Community Work Crisis and Opportunity

We can tell from our website activity and e-mail from you folks that you are preoccupied with urgent matters of health, child care, working from home, or no work at all. So are we, so we will be brief.

Here are three things you can do if you have any bandwidth for community development activities.

1. Read and Learn

We have worked hard to provide you with current, relevant information that is both (a) accessible to people with little or no experience in community work, and (b) enlightening or inspiring for those with much experience. Check out the sitemap to see what is relevant to you.

Notice the new box directing you to lists of pages that would be helpful to different audiences, such as planning commission members, rural folks, suburbanites, neighborhood association types, and so forth. Many community development issues don't fall neatly into just one category, so this alternate approach to a sitemap may help you.

For perspectives other than ours, try the sites listed under the first sub-heading on this page.

2. Try Out Virtual Meetings

We think community work is inherently social, and as social beings, we extract so much meaning from body language that to us, an online meeting just isn't the same.

Nonetheless, a virtual meeting is better than no meeting at all IF (a) you have an ongoing group, (b) an ongoing project or topic that will keep people interested, and (c) a willingness to learn about and adapt to the opportunities and costs of the technology.

If you need to learn more, we recommend this excellent post about virtual meetings from TechSoup. If this isn't exactly what you need to know right now, poke around their blogs since about March 1 to see more that's relevant to neighborhood and community organizations in these times.

Incidentally, if you are involved in an incorporated nonprofit and don't know about TechSoup, go to their site and learn about the sometimes dramatically low prices for computer hardware and software.

3. Find Like-Minded People for Starting a New Organization

While we don't recommend trying to do the outreach phase of organizing a new entity right now, you can get on the phone and do the important preparatory work of recruiting a steering committee. Don't try to approach someone you don't know or someone you think will be resistant, but round up likely allies and enlist them to talk to people they know well. You'll find the work slower than when you can meet in person, but it can be done.

As a resource for those of you who need to start a neighborhood association, our ebook on that topic is available for instant download at quite a low cost. Read about it on this page.

Alternatively, you might need to start a:

neighborhood watch,

community development corporation, or

block club.

In all cases, while you're social distancing, approach only people who know who are reasonably positive in attitude. If you will need your maximum persuasion powers, save it till you can meet in person.

New Website Content

This month we answered two questions from site visitors that will have a broad audience:

Planning commissions and deed restrictions, and

Whether counties are subject to municipal zoning.

As usual, we answered a specific question too: How to prepare for a zoning hearing on opening a restaurant.

Otherwise, we're writing long form content for our site. You will see it in May.

Stay well, stay safe, stay hopeful, stay the course.

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