Newsletter Archive of Back Issues of "Good Community Plus" Email

Last Update: July 12, 2024

Approximately monthly we send subscribers the free Good Community Plus newsletter, formerly Useful Community Plus.    Some visitors have asked us to make our newsletter archive available, so below we give you the links and describe the main article topics to help you find material of interest.

Every newsletter gives you a convenient list of the pages that have been built during the previous month as well. If you want to subscribe yourself, you are certainly most welcome to do so.  A form is found at the bottom of nearly every page of the website.   We appreciate your interest in our newsletter archive. 

Below are links to the back issues, showing the highlights of each.

  • For July, 2024, we were back to normal on the new and improved website, and showed a couple of clever ideas from the 50th anniversary of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam that could be adapted by almost any community with a talented seamstress or two for a summer festival. As usual, we also listed the new additions to the site and gave some reading suggestions. 
  • In June, 2024, we sent a first announcement of the new name and emphasis of this website, and commented about low-impact development.
  • The May newsletter tackled the need to give better notice about rezoning or other development approval proposals.
  • For April, 2024, we tried to inspire imagination about small-scale grocery stores and what those could do for already walkable neighborhoods or communities that could grow in walkability.
  • Resident inclusion in neighborhoods was the topic of the feature article for March, 2024.
  • In February, 2024, we talked about how to keep rents down, based on research about what did and did not work in Minneapolis. 
  • Making suburbs walkable was the focus for the January, 2024, issue, which also featured the top performing pages from 2023.
  • As a new year approached, in December, 2023, we wrote about structured community dialogue as an important potential function of neighborhood and community organizations.
  • A community approach to loneliness, recently identified as an epidemic harmful to public health, was described in November, 2023.
  • For October, 2023, we wrote our shortest-ever three-point article about how community leaders can take advantage of their autumn festivals. We suggested plenty of good reading too.
  • Check out attention grabbing benches and painted utility boxes from our September, 2023 newsletter.
  • The August, 2023, issue took the theme of avoiding boring streetscape.  We showed some wonderful examples, including a pink and yellow and everything else colorful bench and matching trash can, an unexpected street lamp pole, and some storefront windows transformed by art.
  • For July, 2023, after a brief hiatus, we challenged readers to banish boring infrastructure. We showed an example from Copenhagen of how to jazz up an underground tunnel. As usual, we included links to our new web pages and pointed out some good reading for those interested in community development.
  • In April, 2023, we gave our readers the links to our newest update of how different interest groups (such as urban neighborhoods, suburban, rural, planning commissioners, congregational leaders, and many more) can find articles of interest on this website. This great feature is necessary because there are so many ways that community development information can be categorized; readers may miss pertinent pieces if they don't think of an issue in exactly the same way as our editors.
  • The March, 2023, dealt with the question of what makes a bad community development plan. It's a quick read, but each point is mighty.
  • In February, 2023, the feature article asked the question whether there could be too many short-term rentals in a city or neighborhood.
  • For January, 2023, we offered some words of wisdom about why board retreats are important to your neighborhood association or other community organization.
  • In December, 2022, we made some observations about community pandemic recovery and pointed readers to a plethora of good resource articles online.
  • The importance of emphasizing both places and people was the subject of the November, 2022, issue.
  • The October, 2022, issue speculated about the term housing justice and what it might mean for your community.
  • Street tree maintenance was the lead topic for September, 2022. As is typical, we included some links to good reading of interest to the various audiences for this website, as well as a list of our newest pages written during the month.
  • For August, 2022, we thought you might like a few photos of temporary or permanent outdoor community improvement projects, now that the weather will soon be trending cooler in the northern hemisphere--or warmer for the southern!
  • In July, 2022, we asked you to consider whether your zoning ordinance is producing the right amount of parking. In many places, the minimum requirements are resulting in too much parking. If so, consider maximums rather than minimums.
  • Both the simple, inexpensive upgrades and the longer-range projects such as building an exciting transit-only pedestrian mall were highlighted in the June, 2022, issue of the newsletter.
  • In May, 2022, we talked about big and small ideas for public art, which can be an integral part of a community development program. There was no newsletter in April.
  • A timely topic for March, 2022, was some ideas for spring community improvement projects. In addition, we reported a hefty list of good reading and video viewing that we discovered during the month.
  • We gave you and your neighborhood or city some photos of plazas and asked you to discuss the good and the bad of each in the February, 2022 issue.
  • The January, 2022, issue recommends that you think about starting a community organization during the ideal month of January. It's a team sport, but you can be the catalyst. We also reveal your top picks from our site for 2021 and celebrate many new additions to the website during the past month.
  • For December, 2021, we suggested articles on digital twins in Tallinn, superblocks in Barcelona, and bicycle and pedestrian best practices from Pittsburgh.
  • We saw a marked increase in typical "planning and zoning" topics in November, 2021, and then provided a convenient list of those pages in the newsletter. Also see this issue to connect to an award-winning code enforcement program that seems much more friendly than the typical approach.
  • The October, 2021, issue highlights resources for asphalt art, form-based codes, creative vacant lot treatments, and seed grants for small communities or neighborhoods.
  • For September, 2021, it seemed appropriate to describe the pages on this site that give neighborhood basics. We also linked to some sophisticated resources for larger or more advanced community organizations.
  • In August, 2021, we talked about the importance and impact of community organizations learning to understand and participate in their city's budgeting process.
  • The July, 2021 newsletter led off with some good reading suggestions for people interested in community development. The first item on the list, technology tools for community organizations, is broadly applicable to almost all of our readers.
  • For June, 2021, we offered some opinions on resuming face-to-face meetings after the Covid disruption.
  • In May, 2021, the newsletter disputed a current trend toward blaming zoning for everything from soaring housing prices to racial inequities, arguing for a more nuanced appraisal of those relationships. 
  • Our April, 2021, newsletter challenges communities to channel the energy used in trying to be better than other neighborhoods into becoming better versions of themselves. Discussion starter topics are included.
  • For March, 2021, the issue describes a spring "to do" list including clean ups and newsletters, tells about new and incredibly helpful navigation aids on our website where most items could be categorized in several ways, and as usual describes new and significantly revised pages. 
  • In February, 2021, we talked about keeping yourself encouraged that even though you can't always see the results of your community work, such work is like a stadium card stunt where the bigger picture isn't always obvious to the participant. Also there are some good reminders about changing "should" or "have to" to "get to."
  • The January, 2021, issue highlighted the 20 most popular website pages from our site during 2020, as well as including links to resources on small-scale zoning revision processes, public lands, and Native American needs.
  • In December, 2020, the feature article talked about bridging neighborhood divides. As usual we cited some of our favorite reading from other sources and pointed out new or particularly timely pages from this website.
  • We published a newsletter for our subscribers in November, 2020, but it contains some quoted material from some of our website pages. To see everything important from that newsletter, visit the city planning, community planning process, and SWOT analysis pages.
  • For October, 2020, we gave a brief overview of the public deliberation method of involving residents in recommending a choice. The three-step process relies heavily on educational materials prepared by a neutral third party.
  • In September, 2020, we shared the news that we have started a Zoom consulting service, and as usual lately, commented on some of the best reading of the month.
  • The August, 2020, newsletter featured an article on the value of looking for community development examples within a two-hour bus ride from your home base or less. Tips on how to choose that example community were included.
  • July, 2020, introduced the second of our three newest "big picture" website articles for 2020, this one about climate change planning at the local level. Some other great additions to the site,  such as an article about signs of neighborhood decline, were covered also. 
  • June, 2020, kicked off with a discussion of three policing and criminal justice topics in which racial justice can be addressed locally.
  • In May, 2020, we offered a grid for community discussion on which impacts of COVID-19 people predicted would be long-lasting and which transient, and then by extension, what that means for the future of the community. We also linked to a comparison chart for nonprofit videoconferencing platforms.
  • For April, 2020, we stayed with with the appropriate preoccupation with COVID-19. We suggested 3 ways to prepare to do more for your community while staying at home, and we also linked to the source we think is most helpful for community groups trying to convert to online meetings.
  • Our March, 2020, edition tried to inspire some coronavirus-era workarounds for the spring community clean-ups we often tout. We also highlighted a blight innovation team in Mobile, Alabama; some excellent articles and a TED talk about active transportation and transit topics; and some online publications about global poverty, including one that places child poverty in the U.S. in perspective.  
  • We featured an overview of the advantages of overlaying the locations of all types of citizen service requests to any department of city government  in a GIS system or on an old-fashioned paper map in February, 2020.
  • For January, 2020, we gave an overview of greenway planning, a topic relevant to many cities and towns. We also reminded visitors of great ways to use our website better.
  • During December, 2019, we looked at appreciative community development, which we saw as a mash-up between the appreciative inquiry communication technique and asset-based community development. We also wrote a blurb about a colored pavement resource. 
  • Updating our thinking on how housing creates neighborhood fabric was the featured article for November, 2019.  We also described some of the national and international special days of the year that are most likely to offer great resources for neighborhoods and communities that want to stage a local project. 
  • In October, 2019, we explored a technique called ripple effects mapping, which is useful at the conclusion or major milestone of a project. We mentioned source-of-income laws that are being passed in  a number of cities to prohibit discrimination against government housing assistance recipients.
  • The September, 2019, issue featured 19 reminders for new neighborhood association officers and members, ranging from beginning tips to great ideas for experienced organizations. Also we included new resources for finding data.
  • For August, 2019, the feature article concerned updated ideas on walking to school. We also linked to resources on pedestrian safety, downtown retail, gentrification in weaker housing markets, and U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • July, 2019, featured brief descriptions of important articles on topics including juvenile curfews, mayors versus the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on broadband, and tools for thriving suburbs, among others. We also included a call to action for you to contribute to this very website. (See the items under the "Visitors Say" section of our navigation if you would like to do so.)
  • In June, 2019, the newly renamed newsletter, Useful Community Plus, focused on neighborhood nuisances and what we think should not be defined as a nuisance.
  • The May, 2019, newsletter featured an article about why you need community spaces and how to create them, as well as short updates on accessory dwelling units and environmental justice.
  • For April, 2019, the feature topic was a few "next steps" for neighborhood associations that are well-organized in typical neighborhood group functions, but need more sophisticated tools. Examples discussed included forming a co-operative, starting a community development corporation, and taking advantage of a market description tool for use in attracting business to your neighborhood.
  • The March, 2019, issue talks about how the nature of any housing affordability crisis depends on where you live. See also a short blurb on terrific-looking and interesting maps of various characteristics for U.S. counties, as well as a link to an Opportunity Zone update.
  • In February, 2019, the major topic was about reframing issues so that a message about your neighborhood or community development project is better received.
  • For January, 2019, we wrote about volunteer recruitment and retention, with brief notes about the rural brain-drain and its relationship to student debt, a CDC refocusing itself through a health lens, and the "too many bars" problem.
  • The December, 2018 issue of Quick Notes highlighted 2018 favorite articles from our website, and included short tips on discussing racism, assessing organizational capacity for advocacy, and a referral to a long but worthwhile video on technology and cities.
  • In November, 2018, we led off with an article about shared kitchens as one example of communities supporting food business start-ups. We also included a couple of links to help you keep up with the new opportunity zones program in the U.S., and described a new initiative in Denver to fund more mental health and addiction treatment locally.
  • For September, 2018, the main topic was vacant storefronts that occur in both affluent and struggling neighborhoods. We describe in brief why this is an issue, why landlords keep commercial spaces vacant, and what the neighborhood could do about it.
  • August, 2018, talks about a good approach to crime issues for neighborhood residents and associations, as well as reminders about the resources on this site for those who want to start a neighborhood association, community development corporation, or block unit.
  • The July, 2018, issue includes an article on quick jolts of color with paint for your utility boxes and other nondescript features of your town, as well as a truly important article about how a small town collected resident ideas and then created partnerships for implementation. Every place from rural areas to big cities could copy this model.
  • For June, 2018, we addressed current practice on short-term rentals, how hope and well-being are becoming more mainstream government and civic collaboration topics, encouraging walking, and reaching forgotten neighborhoods.
  • May, 2018, begins with how community groups can deal with controversial topics, and also includes blurbs about U.S. incentives for small and mid-sized communities, resources for maps and charts on equality of opportunity, and a cool grant competition for communities that want to expand economic opportunity.
  • April, 2018. We wrote a quick checklist of summer and autumn festival elements you want to keep in mind and invited you to participate in a fast survey about solutions for better community-minded policing.  The feature article discussed "missing middle housing," which means missing both in terms of quantity of housing available in various price ranges as compared to incomes, and in terms of size and architectural mass.
  • March, 2018 is comprised of stories about cleaning up a street in Flint, right sizing community engagement opportunities to fit the complexity of what is being proposed, good signage practices for parks, and links to our new pages on annexation and transfer of development rights.
  • February, 2018. The lead article describes how to decide if you want to do a strategic plan for a neighborhood association, community, or CDC, or whether a neighborhood plan is in order. We also include some leading community development organizations that we recommend you check out, and as usual link to our new pages.
  • January, 2018 includes new ways of reaching people who deserve a say; links and short descriptions of important new reports and articles, with topics including the opioid crisis, young parents' desire to stay in walkable neighborhoods, a new homelessness toolkit, and need for government involvement in housing; website improvements and new articles.
  • December, 2017.  When one organization or partnership isn't enough, you need collective impact. As usual we also described new pages on our website.
  • October-November, 2017 is comprised of fast photo lessons from an intriguing industrial redevelopment; anti-burnout formula for neighborhood association leaders, and tips for meetings with a resource person or public official.
  • September, 2017 includes best go-to web resources for different types of communities and community development situations, and a note about improved security on our site.
  • August, 2017 incorporated five steps to solid partnerships between non-profits such as a neighborhood association or community development corporation, and other entities as well as reminders about submitting community development questions or ideas to this website.
  • June-July, 2017  concentrates on counting your community's (non-financial) assets instead of liabilities.
  • May, 2017. Topics included community resilience, the capacity to bounce back from natural and man-made disasters.
  • April, 2017. In this issue, we asked you to think about saying yes to housing density along some arterial and collector streets.
  • March, 2017. Seven awesome items for your community "to do" list this spring include plantings, clean-ups, bridging community divides, planning to send your leaders for some neighborhood leadership skill-building, and more.
  • February, 2017. Pop-up businesses, temporary bike lanes and parklets, and other quick, cheap, grassroots experiments expand the imagination about what is possible or test a community improvement concept.
  • January, 2017. For smart growth, local small steps are key.
  • December, 2016.   This month we talked about organizational planning, the light-hearted approach to New Year's planning, and community-oriented resolutions for individuals.
  • November, 2016.  This newsletter gives you a reminder of New E-Book on Starting a Neighborhood Association, When It Feels Like Community Is Falling Apart (A Reflection on When Politics Divides), and Holiday Events to Plan Now.
  • October, 2016 includes Autumn Newsletter Ideas, and Starting a Neighborhood Association: Our New E-Book.
  • August, 2016.  If you are wondering what to do about vacant commercial space, or little free libraries, we have suggestions.
  • July, 2016. Articles included 3 Causes and 3 Solutions for Conflict in Community Organizations, and Some Tips for Successful Back-to-School Events.
  • June, 2016. This issue contained: 7 Questions to Ask about Summer Fairs, Parades, Fireworks, and...Projects; Help Us Help You; and Flowers Make a Big Impact.
  • May,  2016 included 5 Tips for Suburban Socializing, Adding Population to Rural Areas, and The Latest on "Neighborhood Effects."
  • April, 2016, our inaugural issue in this format, included Welcome to Quick Notes; Medical Centers, Hospitals, Universities Can Anchor Portions of Your City; It's Spring But Any Season Works for a Clean-Up; and Cooperate Across Boundaries for Best Rural Areas.

Thanks for checking out the back issues of Useful Community Development Quick Notes, now called Useful Community Plus. Remember you can subscribe on this page or almost any other.

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