This section is perhaps the most critical, for lasting systemic change. Individuals can make significant positive impacts in their community, even acting informally and without the direct assistance of local government or larger organizations. However, communities reap even more benefits when they are able to identify and scale up successful change efforts.
In part, this also means ESTABLISHING policies, systems and environments to strengthen the overall idea ecosystem of a place. Thriving places should enable more people to explore change, engage resources and make change experiments. This can happen in a myriad of ways, such as enhanced funding or revision of funding guidelines to better incentivize resident-led change.
The Crossroads Charlotte organization is a good example. Crossroads Charlotte was founded by the Foundation for the Carolinas after Charlotte, North Carolina participated in a national social capital survey in 2001. The survey revealed that, out of 40 communities, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area ranked next to last in levels of social and interracial trust. While the organization used many tactics, one example was the funding of small-scale projects to build trust in the community. Individuals and organizations in the area could apply for a Front Porch grant from the Foundation For The Carolinas. These grants were made for up to $2,500 and could be used for a variety of initiatives in the community that directly build social capital, such as one-time events, dialogue sessions, local arts and culture projects, and more.
Rather than solely relying on a top-down approach, the front porch grants served as a broadening mechanism and as a participatory one. While the official project and its steering committee had an overall agenda, the front porch grants enhanced a more grassroots dynamic which allowed the larger project to gain from the creative participation of a multitude of people and organizations.
Ideas for Establishing Change in your Community
- Arts & Culture Planning Process
- Business Incubator
- Business Retention and Expansion
- Buy Local Campaign
- Cluster-Based Economic Development
- Collaborative Coalition
- Community Development Corporation
- Community Foundation
- Cultural Development Effort
- Entrepreneurship Blueprint
- Entrepreneurship Coaching
- Entrepreneur Education Programs
- Information Sharing Network
- Land Trust
- Local Currency
- Mini-Grants Program
- Participatory Budgeting
- Political Office
- Productivity Bank
- Sharing or Bartering Network
- Volunteering Organization
- Youth Advisory Council