Building a creative community is an ongoing process – one that can be propelled by carefully crafted planning and creative initiatives that bring people together, build on existing qualities and assets, and reflect community stories and values.
Creative community building is sometimes known as creative placemaking, arts-based community development, culture-led regeneration, community cultural development, and other terms. Whatever it’s called, it’s about building communities from within and in tune with both their historical as well as present-day cultural composition. This requires both bottom-up and top-down approaches with people working together creatively at all levels of the community.
The work of Creative Community Builders takes numerous forms. It is placemaking and community planning, it is cultural planning, cultural district and neighborhood planning, and it is culturally based economic development strategy development.
Who Cares About Community?
Often found at the core of this work, this community building process, are the people who live in, work in, and care about the people and places that make up the fabric of community life. They care about the understandings, activities and the formal and informal organizations they create that connect them and sometimes divide them. They care about all the dimensions of community; the cultural, the social, the economic, the environmental, the aesthetic, and the civic. Creative community building becomes a holistic process that simultaneously engages individuals, organizations, and institutions.
Enjoying the Journey
Artists, cultural workers, and historians (the storytellers of communities) are always important to the process at the very beginning. First, to listen and facilitate dialogue and to help community members express themselves –building a body of self-discovery where a community can find itself. From this comes a collective clarity where new stories and shared visions are possible.
Community Takes Practice
CCB has found that the act of planning itself can be an inspiring and enjoyable community experience where a community, through practicing community, uncovers and unpacks old and new ways of thinking and doing things, helping them to move forward together in the direction they want to go.
Assets Based Planning
Just like individuals, every community has strengths and has multiple stories that make up its character. We practice the ‘Stone Soup’ concept of building community. The starting point is to understand what people value about their community, and then to appreciate what each can contribute to it. Every place also has aspirations and challenges. By taking stock of all of the community’s assets, this enables viable strategies to be developed that put the assets to work to overcome the challenges so the community can move towards its aspirations.