Learning more about neighborhood life
Below are some selected resources of particular relevance or interest to neighborhoods and neighborhood groups. There are plenty more of them! The list here first notes web sites, and then books - both with an emphasis on the nontechnical, the practical, and the how-to.
All sites in the first group (A) below contain how-to-do-it neighborhood information and techniques, and are especially recommended for tips and ideas. You can freely print out information from almost all of them, except for the very first listing. Hard copies may sometimes also be obtained by writing to the address given on the site itself.
A. Sites Especially Recommended for Tips and Ideas
- Asset Building Community Development Institute. www.northwestern.edu/ipr/abcd/html. A number of free publications, but features 12 workbooks for sale on different neighborhood topics (e.g., identifying assets, and creating neighborhood capacity inventories and information exchanges). At $12 each, they are likely to be worth the investment. Can also be ordered from ACTA Publications at 1-800-397-2282.
- Citizens Committee for New York City. www.ccnyc.neighborhoodlink.com. About 20 tip sheets on various neighborhood affairs and topics, including four in Spanish.
- Community Tool Box. http://ctb.ku.edu. Probably the largest single source of community development information now in existence. Practical guidance on 275 separate community-building topics, in the form of self-contained how-to-do-it instructional modules. For neighborhoods, see Chapter 26, Section 12, "Promoting Neighborhood Action." A brochure should be in conference information packets.
- F remont, California (City of Fremont). www.ci.fremont.ca.us/community/communityinvolvement/default.htm. A great many tip sheets on neighborhood topics, emphasizing community organizing. In pdf format. A highly recommended site.
- Neighborhood Resource Center of Colorado. www.nrc-neighbor.org/publications.htm. This Colorado-based organization offers a Good Neighboring Handbook and a Good Neighboring Resource Guide, as well as six tip sheets.
- Pew Partnership for Civic Change. www.pew-partnership.org. Many downloadable booklets, manuals, and other resources. A strong point is examples of model neighborhood-oriented solutions that have worked for other communities, and that could work for yours.
- Riverside, California (City of Riverside). www.riversideca.gov/neighborhoods. Another small city with plenty of practical neighborhood organizational resources.
- Vancouver Citizen's Committee (Vancouver, British, Columbia). www.vcn.bc.ca/citizens-handbook. Contains about 20 short instructional sheets on different facets of neighborhood action, and another 20 on different neighborhood projects, plus many articles and links, all as part of an on-line Citizen's Handbook. Short, to the point, and practical. Perhaps the best single site of its type I've seen.
B. Sites Emphasizing General Neighborhood Information
- National Neighborhood Coalition. www.neighborhoodcoalition.org. A Washington-based national organization emphasizing economic and housing issues. One distinctive feature is its downloadable manuals on smart growth.
- National Organization of Neighborhoods. www.nanworld.org. Another national organization, with an economic focus.
- Neighborhoods Online. www.neighborhoodsonline.net. Features a list-serv, and many separate e-mail lists, plus many links to discussions of issues and neighborhood news and issues, as well as direct links to many other neighborhood sites. Very flashy.
- Neighborhoods USA. www.NUSA.org. You know about this one!
C. Sites Focusing on a Specific Neighborhood or Community Topic
- Center for Neighborhood Technology. www.cnt.org. Environmentally-oriented neighborhood site with a Chicago focus.
- City Repair. www.cityrepair.org. See under "Books," below.
- Concord Neighborhood Network. www.concordnn.org. An especially interesting neighborhood model, in which the entire small town is divided into over 100 micro-neighborhoods of about 25-30 households each, each one led by a volunteer coordinator who helps facilitate both social interaction and preparation for possible disasters.
- Global Ideas Bank. www.globalideasbank.org. As the site name suggests, focuses on global ideas for community development - over 4000 of them from around the world.
- Keith Hampton. www.mysocialnetwork.net. Hampton, a university professor, has pioneered in helping neighbors establish connections through computer technology . Ground-breaking ideas and applications.
- I-neighbors. www.i-neighbors.org. Another site that hooks up neighbors electronically. Operates nationally, with plenty of information on how-to-do-it in your community.
- Laguna Beach, California (City of Laguna Beach). www.lagunabeachcity.net/community.disaster.neighborhood.htm. The focus here is on neighborhood teams for disaster preparedness.
- Neighborhood Day. www.neighborhood day.org. Among other things, sponsors an annual National Neighborhood Day for neighborhood get-togethers (in 2006, on September 17), and also a short film contest (!) for best neighborhood videos.
- Public Conversations Project. www.publicconversations.org. Promotes dialogue among groups, especially groups in conflict. Its downloadable guides for dialogue among groups in conflict are outstanding. A national leader in this field.
- Since Sliced Bread. www.sinceslicedbread.com. A collection of interesting community ideas, collected as part of a national contest sponsored by the SEIU Union.
- Social Capital, Inc. www.socialcapitalinc.org. A new model which has started in Massachusetts and helps neighbors build connections among one another, with an emphasis on computer technology.
- Study Circles Resource Center. www.studycircles.org. A collection of resources on forming local discussion groups of any kind in one's neighborhood or community. Many freely downloadable tip sheets are also offered by this well-established national organization.
- Saul Alinsky. Rules for radicals: A practical primer for realistic radicals. New York: Random House, 1971. A classic book on how to organize, still very much relevant for today.
- Bill Berkowitz and Tom Wolff. The spirit of the coalition. Washington, D.C.: American Public Health Association, 2000. Stories and lessons on local community coalition building.
- Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max. Organizing for social change. (3rd ed.)
- Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks Press, 2001. An excellent and very down-to-earth modern organizing book.
- City Repair. City Repair's placemaking guidebook. Portland, OR: City Repair, 2003. (Available from City Repair, P.O. Box 42615, Portland OR 97242, or via www.cityrepair.org.) A unique book that focuses on creating lively social intersections and streets. A Second Edition is forthcoming.
- Ram Dass and Paul Gorman. How can I help?: Stories and reflections on service. New York: Knopf, 1985. Not on neighborhoods as such, but rather on the spirit of service that lies behind any social action. Very highly recommended.
- Charles Dobson. The troublemaker's teaparty: A manual for effective citizen action Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2003. Another good neighborhood organizing book, and an alternative to the Bobo et al. title noted above.
- Robert Fisher. Let the people decide: Neighborhood organizing in America. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985. For history fans: A nontechnical and very readable historical account.
- John L. Kretzmann and John P. McKnight. Building communities from the inside out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community's assets. Chicago: ACTA Publications, 1994. A brilliant work on how to find and use the assets in any neighborhood or community.
- Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar. Streets of hope: The fall and rise of an urban neighborhood. Boston: South End Press, 1994. A fascinating case study about successful multicultural organizing in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States.
- Pew Partnership for Civic Change. [Three titles] 1. Inventing civic solutions. 2. What's already out there, and 3. What we know works. Charlottesville, VA: Pew Partnership for Civic Change, 2005, 2002, and 200l respectively. These three excellent handbooks give models of best-practice programs in many neighborhood and community areas, and illustrate the lessons learned in implementing each one. Also downloadable at www.pew-partnership.org.
- Robert D. Putnam and Lewis Feldstein. Better together: Restoring the American community. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Twelve chapter-long accounts of innovative neighborhood and community initiatives.
- Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland. The civic renewal movement: Community building and democracy in the United States. Dayton, Ohio: Kettering Foundation, 2006. A new book by two community scholars on community building across the country.