About This Website

Last Updated: June 15, 2024

If you are mystified—or motivated--by some aspect of community improvement, betterment, or activism, you have come to the right website. This website has only one purpose: to provide helpful information, insights, and perspectives for ordinary people who find themselves engaged with some aspect of the broad spectrum of activities we call community development.

Usually the articles serve as an orientation to a topic, in order to inspire readers to ask appropriate questions as they research their own local conditions. By increasing your understanding of both basic and sophisticated concepts in neighborhood organizing, planning, community projects, or zoning and development regulation, you can multiply your effectiveness in public dialogue at the neighborhood or city-wide scale.

This site originally was called Useful Community Development and represented the collaborative work of four professional planners. In 2024 Nancy Thompson (shown here) assumed full ownership of the site and changed the name to A Good Community: How to Make and Keep It. Nancy holds a master's degree in urban and regional planning and has served in leadership roles in neighborhood associations, a community development corporation, and numerous civic and other non-profits.

one of site authors, Nancy Thompson

Nancy has achieved certification as a community planner, meaning she is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.  She studied journalism at the University of Missouri and earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has served as a planning director in city and county governments in a variety of settings in several states. Often the department she managed has been responsible for capital improvements, community development projects, and code enforcement too. At the regional level, she was planning division manager at East-West Gateway Council of Governments. Specialized planning experience has included serving as Executive Director at St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, a coalition of the city's neighborhood associations,  and as a project manager and community outreach manager of the multi-county urban and rural Great Rivers Greenway district. 

In addition Nancy has served throughout the U.S. as a consultant, specializing in neighborhood plans, community development work, neighborhood leadership training, and non-profit strategic planning.  She has spurred start-ups of neighborhood associations, community development corporations, and a variety of other non-profits.

Right now Nancy is tired of formal writing, even though she has won several competitive prizes for just that. So she and her original three co-authors adopted an informal "oral conversation" voice. Whenever neighborhood folks are in danger of wasting their time, the website says so, exposing any conventional wisdom about community work that doesn't pass the reality test.

You can join our Good Community Plus group below. Once a month you will receive an email usually giving a short article on a topic that strikes Nancy as interesting, as well as some interesting reading she has found and a listing of new content on this website. Back issues are shown on the newsletter archive page. 

By the way, if you are thinking about starting a neighborhood association, this site describes our ebook that will increase your efficiency and effectiveness in this project, and reduce frustration and false starts.

Readers or fellow professionals are encouraged to contact us to discuss potential collaborations or to challenge some of the necessarily very general commentary. Other perspectives, news about the latest research, and tips on community development resources are always welcome.

This site is full of actionable ideas, whether you are puzzling about a big city, small city, village, or rural community development experience.  Your comments and questions are welcome. 

  1. A Good Community
  2.  >
  3. About

Join GOOD COMMUNITY PLUS, which provides you monthly with short features or tips about timely topics for neighborhoods, towns and cities, community organizations, and rural or small town environments. Unsubscribe any time. Give it a try.