Today we are releasing Neighborhoods First, a report from our A Better Brainerd initiative. This is a revolutionary document that we’re going to be highlighting here all week.

Why is it revolutionary? Because it challenges – in fact it completely turns on its head – the current project development paradigm. Instead of developing projects in a top/down plan, and instead of giving lip service to public engagement, Neighborhoods First is based on an intensive effort to respond to how people in one neighborhood interact – or don’t -- with their city.

Neighborhoods First contains eight low cost, high return projects that directly respond to identified needs within one neighborhood. This is an approach that any local government in the country can successfully utilize, whether in one neighborhood or across an entire city, to create growth and investment on a small budget while simultaneously improving people’s lives.

We have three goals with this report. First, we want to demonstrate that the highest returning projects in any city are the small, incremental ones. Second, we want to show that the people in the community are the real experts on what is needed in their neighborhoods (we just have to go out and talk to them and take note of what they do). And third, that an incremental approach with a portfolio of small projects is a viable low risk, low cost alternative to the mega-project.

This week on the blog we’re going to highlight our methods, note the impacts of this report and share some specific excerpts as we detail our findings for you. Check back often but, in the meantime, download a copy of Neighborhoods First for yourself.

The strong towns future is within reach of every community that wants to put neighborhoods first.

Neighborhoods First