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Participate in a Community Swap

What is it? This program allows community residents to visit and learn from another city or town, perhaps one experiencing similar problems or sharing certain characteristics,  Often, the program uses an exchange process, where small groups from each place trade visits, share experiences from each other, and learn about promising approaches that might be borrowed or adapted from the partner community. The process provides a comparative perspective that may inform new or existing planning efforts.  Additionally, the participants are provided with an objective outside view of their community by their swap partners.

How has it been used? A small team of residents from two communities in Illinois, Gilman and Teutopolis, visited each other and provided feedback about their observations.  The team from Teutopolis wrote a detailed report of their visit to Gilman, and the Gilman group did likewise after their trip.  Participants noted items such as empty lots, visible during the entrance to town, and the presence of empty commercial buildings in the business area.  Alongside these less appealing elements of the viewscape, group members also described more positive features such as newer brick roads and attractive lampposts.  In addition to the built environment, visitors also noted items such as the lack of a dentist or the usage of town parks. The results helped identify features that long-time community members no longer noticed or did not perceive as relevant for visitors (Source: A View of Gilman: Community Swap Report)

Further Reading

Community Swap – University of Illinois Extension