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Community Heart & Soul Field Guide 2nd Edition

Submitted by sylvia cheuy on January 10, 2017 - 6:18am

The Orton Family Foundation’s Community Heart and Soul Initiative is rooted in the belief that, “the strength of a community lies in the hands of its residents."

Its Community Heart & Soul Field Guide 2nd Edition summarizes the essence of wisdom gleaned from more than a decade of listening, learning, refining and partnering with more than a dozen small towns (under 50,000 residents).  The field guide is both practical and comprehensive.  It outlines an array of resources and tools that they have used and refined to promote proven, resident-driven approaches to community engagement and change that reflect genuine involvement that engage all sectors in planning so that small towns can build their own successful futures. 

The Community Heart and Soul process involves eleven steps that are spread across 4 phases.  It is an approach that is built upon the following 3 principles: 

  1. Involve Everyone – Wisdom is found in local experiences and diverse perspectives therefore focused effort must be invested in connecting with, listening to and embracing everyone who lives and works within the community – even those that are under-represented or hard to reach.
  1. Focus on What Matters – A community’s heart and soul reflect those things that distinguish a community and make it a good place to live.  These are revealed by identifying and focusing on a community’s unique characteristics and attributes as well as the emotional attachments that residents have to where they live.
  1. Play the Long Game – This principle emphasizes the importance of focusing on long-term success over “quick wins” and building shared ownership and commitment to the results by embracing processes that cultivate more effective and participatory decision-making. 

The Community Heart and Soul process is resident-driven and intentionally rooted in the shared aspirations and commitment of all residents and an appreciation of the unique characteristics of place.  As noted by Orton Family Foundation Founder, Lynman Orton, "When a community takes the time to get to know itself, it gains a sense of identity and purpose that informs decisions about its future."