Last year Strong Towns was asked to join with other organizations from across the country to explore ways to collaborate for a common purpose. Those of you that have been with us for the last year may remember discussion of "secret" meetings in New York and Austin, meetings I reported on as being amazing but, nonetheless, was not able to release many details. Well, today is a day for details.

From the Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters:

CommunityMatters Launches New National Partnership

New National Alliance Collaborates to Build Stronger Local Communities


June 14, 2012

MIDDLEBURY, VT— CommunityMatters® announced today the launch of a national partnership of eight organizations with the common goal of building strong communities through the improvement of local civic infrastructure. These seven leaders will collaborate on projects and advocate for a new paradigm that takes a systemic approach to community building and planning.

The newly-formed CommunityMatters partnership aims to equip cities, towns and all community members to strengthen their places and inspire change. This group champions the notion that people have the power to solve their community’s problems and shape its future. The alliance facilitates connections, provides education and infuses inspiration at the local level.

(Read the rest of the press release.)

There are really three things I find particularly important about this announcement and the CommunityMatters partnership in general. The first is the organizations that have signed up. I got involved with the Orton Family Foundation back in 2010 when I was asked to speak at their conference in Denver. I was deeply impressed with them and the focus of their philanthropy, so when they asked me to attend a meeting of non-profit organizations to discuss ways we could all "push on the same wall," it was an easy sell.

Since then, I've had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people from some powerful organizations to craft this initiative. Here are the official partners (you will likely recognize many):

I've made some great friends from these groups and, professional, met some very powerful thinkers. It is really an honor to be among them here in this list.

The second is the potential for doing good that comes from this collaboration. This is a group of people that individually all have experience working on the ground to make a difference. We're all committed to helping each other, supporting each other's initiatives and projects and doing what we can to work collaboratively for the benefit of America's cities and towns. From the press release:

In 2012 and 2013, projects may include community-level workshops, development of shared metrics related to civic infrastructure, another national CommunityMatters conference, and resource collections for on-the-ground community builders. CommunityMatters currently offers free bi-monthly conference calls on a variety of topics of interest to those who are active in their communities.

Third, I want to let our readers know that, if you are in a community that would like to access this amazing team, you can start that process by getting connected with CommunityMatters. You can follow the team on Facebook, by newsletter or -- if you are ready for a deeper discussion -- you can contact CM directly from the website.

Finally, if you are looking for a set of beliefs to inspire, check these from CommunityMatters.  

1. We believe that all communities matter. Each one possesses a unique combination of cultures, landscapes, traditions, values and people – their heart and soul.

2. We believe in connections. Community is about economy and education, politics and place making, health care and happiness. We must accept that these forces influence one another and treat them as one interrelated system.

3. We believe that quality of place affects quality of life. We must protect and enhance our buildings and ridgelines, streetscapes and landscapes, while also adapting to growth and change.

4. We believe that when a community’s spirit is strong, so are its economy, its social capital and its culture. Community strength must be another bottom line: every decision, policy and action should be evaluated for its impact on the often-intangible elements that matter most.

5. We believe that all voices should be heard – youth and seniors and minorities, old timers and newcomers, rich and poor, tradesmen and professionals, the influential and the forgotten.

6. We believe in deep democracy that carries rights and responsibilities. No voice matters more than any other. Every person has something to contribute and an obligation to offer it.

7. We believe that communities that know themselves can unite. When a community takes the time to get to know itself, it will gain a sense of identity and purpose that unite people in protecting and strengthening what matters.

8. We believe that communities are a collaborative enterprise. We need the participation and commitment of as many diverse people and organizations as possible to create lasting, positive change. Together, we have the creativity, resolve and know-how to tackle our communities’ greatest challenges and enhance the places we love.

9. We believe that change is inevitable. To deny or delay it is defeatist and ultimately destructive. But we do not need to sacrifice our communities’ souls in order to grow and change.

We no longer fear change. We are ready to steer change.

We believe that Community Matters. 

Thank you to the Orton Family Foundation for believing in the power of communities, for assembling this team and for making us part of it. We look forward to doing many great things together.