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Jan 08, 16

"Last year, Walsenburg, a town near Colorado Springs, Colo., axed its 600-square-foot restriction, opening its doors (and wide swaths of land) to tiny home enthusiasts. Stambaugh quickly swooped in to snatch up a 4.5-acre plot.

His plan: to build the world’s first tiny home subdivision and revolutionize the rural economy in the process."

Nov 21, 15

"The project, piloted in the town of Chesham, has been labeled with the rather embarrassing 1990s-era names of "Streetsurfing" and the more up-to-date-but-equally-lame "Smart Pavement." It puts 166Mbps wi-fi under residents’ feet, mounted on the underside of the street’s many manhole covers. The connection hooks up to Virgin’s nearby street exchange cabinets, and the whole system relies on fiber optic cabling."

May 04, 15

"One program in development is the Maine Network of Innovation and Creativity, which facilitates "requests for collaboration" that connect people both online and in person, using MCC's platform as a hub for shared information. "You might have someone in a very small town who is an expert in puzzle making, for instance, who just happens to be known internationally," says Maginnis. "It would be really important for us to know that here, because there may be a project that's very related to puzzle design in a corporation that would want to know that this expert lives here in Maine. The keywords are 'seek,' 'find,' and 'collaborate.' It's about identifying talents and then creating a mechanism for collaboration.""

Mar 17, 15

"This series explores the real sharing economy — where wealth and power are shared, not just consumer goods and spare bedrooms. These real sharing entities share resources, knowledge, and decision-making responsibilities as they co-create community goods and services. Then they share the abundance together.

Troublingly, a grow-grow-grow economy makes us all more reliant on money. Real sharing economy projects make money less important, like the Buy Nothing groups on the Facebook and tool-lending libraries that Grist already writes about. This series will tour examples of Seattle’s emerging sharing movement: a bike cooperative, an urban food forest, and a community solar program.

Planting the seeds of a real sharing economy is no easy task. But it’s easier to share the work than go it alone."

Feb 09, 15

"Scheduled to open later this year, the Renaissance Community Coop (RCC) will be a full grocery store, bringing area residents access to fresh fruit, vegetables and other staples. It’s a welcome addition to a town that came in second place for food insecurity in the U.S.

RCC will also bring an estimated 32 jobs to the area. Minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25 per hour but the starting wage at RCC will be $10 per hour. In an area where median household income is $21,000, a secure, fair-wage job could prove transformational for families."

Feb 08, 15

The internet allows farmers to share resources and best practices so that newcomers can easily solve problems, such as how to stave off aphids or mitigate late-season frosts. It can also link farmers to lower-priced land and equipment. Customers are easier to find, too, especially given the rise of CSAs, which provide a reliable market and source of capital in advance of the growing season. And then there’s the new ubiquity of agriculture: it’s happening everywhere, including in cities and suburbs. All of this amounts to a web of relationships — an emerging connective tissue among farmers and consumers — allowing more small-scale goods to be sold.

Feb 07, 15

"One of the reasons the city can run on renewable energy is that it has also worked hard to help residents use less power overall. With an aggressive energy efficiency program, the city actually uses less energy now than it did in 1989.

But even though Burlington has some unique circumstances—and a very liberal population that strongly supported the push to 100% renewables—Nolan believes that it's a goal that other cities can easily reach. Some smaller communities (like Greensburg, Kansas, which rebuilt with green energy after the town was destroyed in a tornado) have already achieved the goal, though Burlington is the first larger city."

Jan 26, 15

"Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps and a self-proclaimed nonprofit humor writer, has a great piece up on his blog all about a concept he calls "Trickle-Down Community Engagement" (TDCE). What, pray tell, does he mean by that?

"This is when we bypass the people who are most affected by issues, engage and fund larger organizations to tackle these issues, and hope that miraculously the people most affected will help out in the effort, usually for free.""

Jan 17, 15

"The trend of urbanization has made many people (most of them young) ever more dependent on supply chains that are out of their control. They look to others for their water, food and energy, spending what little money they make on goods and services that they could produce for themselves (in community) with minimal commitments of time and capital.

There are agro-ecological design strategies for every climate that help bring people (quickly and affordably) to a position of food, water and even energy self-sufficiency. These design strategies are specifically optimized to take as little time and require as little maintenance as possible, and they radically increase community resilience in the process."

Jan 06, 15

"As the year draws to a close, one important anniversary in Sackville needs to be celebrated. 2014 has been the 20th anniversary of Renaissance Sackville. Born from the need to stimulate the local economy, it has been a driving force in our economy and improving our way of life for twenty years. By the early 1990s, Sackville had lost jobs when Atlantic Wholesalers, Fawcett Foundry and local Federal Government offices closed. In 1994, a group of about 50 people, including townspeople, businesses, university, and representatives from the town office and the provincial economic development office, held a workshop to review strategic opportunities. Renaissance Sackville was born, its by-laws written and the group incorporated. The vision this group had was to support and foster community development through involvement in projects that benefit Sackville, enhance the greening of the community, and promote community events and activities. This social and cultural approach to economic development has been a roaring success economically, socially, environmentally and culturally. “If you build it, they will come” has worked for Sackville.

Renaissance Sackville’s growing process has been community-based, open to entrepreneurship and innovation. The varied interests of the community have been represented by many sectors: the arts, agriculture, tourism, heritage, business, health, sports, and the environment for example. Some of the effects of Renaissance can be seen with the addition of Tourism and Economic Development departments in the municipal offices, and a legacy of non-profit organizations which got their start as Renaissance Sackville committees: Tantramar Heritage Trust, Tantramar Family Resource Centre, and Tantramar Hospice Palliative Care. All have had an enormous impact on our community.

Over the years, Sackville has received several awards which I believe can be directly attributed to this community experiment. Artsnb awarded Sackville with the Municipality of the Arts Award in 2003 and we were a Cultural Capital in 2008. It really has been a renaissance. The ecology and energy sectors have expanded with several non-profits growing in town, such as ACORN, Open Sky, EOS Eco-Energy (energy sustainability), and the Transportation for Tantramar Network. All have brought jobs and/or opportunities for improving our quality of life.

In 2014, we have a pretty stable economy with retail growth, increased cultural activities like arts and music festivals, heritage and sports events, tourism and a thriving, healthy community in comparison to 1994.

People want to move here. Community Forests International (CFI) moved their offices here from Montreal in 2010 because Renaissance Sackville was willing to invest in them with a small seed grant. They have since been funded internationally by the European Union through the Global Climate Change Alliance towards their work in Pemba. They have contributed to the Community Garden by planting a Food Forest and have organised workshops to raise awareness about food production and the local environment. The Community Garden is a legacy project for Renaissance Sackville with over fifty plots and a new bake oven built on site this year. Projects such as the Farmers Market, Midnight Madness, Live Bait Theatre, Communities in Bloom, Sackville Skatepark, and Bob Edgett Boxing Club have received funding at some point in the last twenty years. Sappy Fest, which is Sackville’s annual independant music festival bringing in several hundred thousands of dollars into the town every summer, had been supported in a small way in its earlier years by Renaissance Sackville. This year’s projects include the CarShare Pilot by Transportation for Tantramar, and the Shuttle Service Pilot by EOS Eco Energy. The diversity of projects is a testament to the innovative and supportive approach of Renaissance. Who would have thought twenty years ago that all this was possible?

All these examples are proof that when we invest in our people resource the returns continue to be inspiring, benefitting us all, and creating a thriving town. With only one employee at any time, the support Renaissance Sackville has given has been incredible. Both past directors, Meredith Fisher and Janine O’Reilly were stellar at their jobs, guiding with their enthusiasm and their belief in building this community through community action.

The Heritage sector has been an amazing success in Sackville. They have refurbished the Boultonhouse Heritage Centre, the Captain George Anderson Octagonal House, and the Campbell Carriage Factory. They have published several books and have sponsored numerous talks and tours. Remember the book, Sackville Then and Now, which was such a roaring success last year? It has had two printings. We now have a visible history of our heritage in architecture and print. All this is from the enthusiasm of committed individuals who love where we live.

Renaissance Sackville has nourished us to become a community of “can do’s.” We have a quality of life in our town which is the envy of many other communities and it is because of volunteers with vision and hard work working from small seed grants from Renaissance Sackville. With so much under our belts, I look forward to seeing what this community can do next but first, recognition should be given to the many, many volunteers who have contributed so much to this town. All their visions and hard work have helped make Sackville the creative, healthy town it is today. Let’s celebrate!"

Jan 30, 13

"How To Create Engaging Public Spaces
By Cat Johnson
01.30.13, 7:12am Comments (0)

Creative Commons photo by mikebaird

The idea behind creating a public space is not just to build a nice-looking addition to a town, but to create a space that people actually use. A plaza with no one in it is just an empty space. Creating a space that successfully engages people is an artform and a science that relies on the input of the community, the testing of ideas, sharp observation and detailed planning.

A few years ago, the Project for Public Spaces looked at 40 years of research and published the report, Eleven Principles for Turning Public Spaces into Civic Places. Recently, On The Commons republished the key points from the report, rekindling the conversation. Below is an overview of the 11 principles.

1. The Community is the Expert
The space is for the community. Community members should be involved with the planning from the beginning.

2. You are creating a place, not just a design
Aesthetics aside, the space has to be useable above all.

3. You can’t do it alone
No one can create a successful space without input from other people and organizations.

4. They always say, “It can’t be done.”
Naysayers are gonna naysay and bureaucracy is a slow-moving machine. Stay the course.

5. You can see a lot just by observing
Watching people use a space can reveal a lot about what they use, want and need.

6. Develop a vision
What is the intended use for the space, as it applies to the community? This should be clear from the start.

7. Form supports function
The form of the space should follow and strengthen the vision for its use.

8. Triangulate
Position like things near each other and near well-matched, surrounding businesses: kid-friendly stuff near kid-friendly businesses, transportation points efficiently placed, food vendors in logical places etc. Doing so increases engagement and interaction.

9. Start with the petunias
Start small. Great ideas often get lost in planning. Small steps can help determine future plans and signal the community that their space is important.

10. Money is not the issue
Small-scale projects that involve the community can be more engaging than large-scale projects that have a top-down feel to them.

11. You are never finished
A great public space grows and changes with the community and its needs. An open approach to management of the space ensures that the people who use it continue to determine how it is used."

Nov 03, 12

"Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world."

Oct 06, 12

"Imagine living in a country where having the freedom to cultivate your own land, tax-free and without government interference, is not only common but also encouraged for the purpose of promoting individual sovereignty and strong, healthy communities. Now imagine that in this same country, nearly all of your neighbors also cultivate their own land as part of a vast network of decentralized, self-sustaining, independent "eco-villages" that produce more than enough food to feed the entire country.

You might be thinking this sounds like some kind of utopian interpretation of historical America, but the country actually being described here is modern-day Russia. It turns out that Russia's current agricultural model is one that thrives as a result of the millions of small-scale, family-owned and -operated, organically-cultivated farms that together produce the vast majority of the food consumed throughout the country. "

Sep 12, 12

Now in the last several months friends have introduced me to how very large and rapidly growing the maker movement is.  I find myself surprised at how sophisticated and well developed a subculture it is, with its own MAKE magazine, online design-sharing sites, hundreds of physical "hackerspaces" with publicly usable 3D printers (I even discovered one in my medium-sized hometown), and "Maker Faires" attracting tens of thousands of people to learn how to make everything from trousers to a circuit board that enables your houseplants to send you a text message that it needs watering.  

Sep 05, 12

"Pineland Center in New Gloucester, Maine was established in 1908 to serve as a home for the mentally handicapped of Maine. At the time of its official closing in 1996, Pineland consisted of a 28-building campus and 1600-plus acres. A large part of the acreage consisted of farmland which had at one time been cultivated to sustain the needs of the Center's staff and residents.

Through its real estate branch, October Corporation, the Libra Foundation of Portland, Maine purchased the Pineland campus and approximately 900 acres of farmland in June 2000. Since that time, extensive renovation, new construction and additional land purchases have brought both the campus and the farms back to life. The Pineland property now encompasses a 19-building campus and 5,000 acres of farmland.

The Foundation's vision for the campus is to create a unique community by attracting a variety of non-profit and for-profit businesses, organizations and services to lease space in the buildings. Tenants enjoy amenities on the campus such as a conference center, cafeteria and YMCA, as well as access to the farm programs and facilities.

The farms have been developed as a self-sustaining nonprofit organization known as Pineland Farms, Inc. In addition to the fully operational farm, Pineland Farms offers public educational programming, outdoor recreational activities and a world-class equestrian center. Produce from Pineland Farms, such as eggs and vegetables, supply The Market."

Sep 03, 12

"Here's our theory of change. To be competitive in today's economy, any region needs to start with 21st-century brainpower. Next, the region needs to convert this brainpower in the wealth through support networks for entrepreneurs and innovative companies. Because both talented people and innovative companies are mobile, regions must focus on physical development and building quality, connected places. 
To provide a sense of coherence and direction to their strategy, regional leaders need strong new narratives that point to the future. Finally, designing and executing a regional strategy is tricky. It starts with a deeply engaged core team and spreads to a far wider network of civic leaders. Fundamentally, effective regional strategy requires broadly distributed leadership skills in complex collaboration and  new civic disciplines of collaboration.
This framework provides a “base map” on which any region can map its strategy. The base map helps regional leaders identify assets and explore both connections and gaps. It provides an inclusive, common sense starting point for strategy development. "

Sep 01, 12

"Despite the fact that many of the services (roads, schools, etc.) provided by local governments are often worth the expense (if they aren’t providing good value for the expense, you should move), the fact that our communities don’t also generate us an income seems like a design failure.

Strangely, income is something almost everyone seems to leave out of their plans for community resilience, despite how important it is in all of our lives.   I hope people rethink this assumption before D2 (the second, and much greater, economic depression) resumes its march.

NOTE:  When will D2 kick in?  2013 might be the year that the global economy starts to slide backwards again.  The warning signs in China (a fall off in industrial energy use, massive stockpiles of unsold goods, etc.) point to a BIG fall off next year.

How to generate an income as a community

Here are three smart methods to get you thinking in the right direction (I’ll elaborate on these methods more in a future report):

Take the Johnny Appleseed approach.  Get a productive business started and set up a community co-op to manage the costs and the benefits.  If you don’t know, Johnny Appleseed was a classical Yankee entrepreneur (which is very different than the financialized poseurs we have today).  He started hundreds orchard community co-ops.
Build a community around a working farm.  My friend Simon Black is building a resilient community in Chile from scratch, that I’m advising him on.  Every plot in this Chilean community is part owner of the farm it is built around.  This resilient community is being built to bounce back from a hard (economic and infrastructure) collapse in the northern hemisphere.   If you want to get more information on this community, you can sign up here.
Make it a community service.  Use vacant public land and underutilized facilities to build services that reduce expenses for community residents.  For example, the town of Totnes (in the UK) planted 186 nut trees around the town to provide an extra source of food for residents.  For more, see this video on the project."

Aug 31, 12

"Apart from its policemen and firemen—which, under Georgia’s constitution, must be public workers—Sandy Springs has only seven full-time employees: a city clerk, a court clerk, a finance director and four people who work in the city manager’s office. The city manager himself works for Sandy Springs, but his spokesman—like all the communications staff—works for The Collaborative, a Boston-based public-affairs consultancy. Morgan Falls is a lovely park overlooking the Chattahoochee river; this and the other city parks are maintained by employees of Jacobs, a multinational engineering firm based in southern California. Jacobs also administers the city’s court, in which the independent judges are paid a flat hourly rate. Severn Trent Services, based in Coventry, keeps the city’s books. Four other private firms carry out most of the other city functions"

Aug 30, 12

How did this toolkit come about?
This toolkit is the outcome of a three year research 
project examining resilience in a rural community. 
The study, titled ‘Identifying models of personal and 
community resilience that enhance psychological 
wellness: A Stanthorpe Study’ aimed to clarify what 
factors contribute to peoples positive adaptation to 
living in a rural community.

Aug 10, 12

"Yesterday, the global coworking movement celebrated it's seventh official birthday. Less than a decade after coworking pioneer Brad Neuberg first coined the term, the concept has been duplicated, re-imagined, and expanded by creative innovators all over the world.

Since that fateful day, what started as an eight-desk, shared workspace has grown into 1,779 spaces in dozens of countries, with new communities being launched every day. It wasn't necessarily Neuberg's model of coworking that spread around the world. Rather, in the true spirit of openness and collaboration--which are foundational principals of the movement--it was the opensource concept of working independently, yet together, that sparked a global revolt against business as usual."

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