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Core Issues in Comprehensive Community-Building Initiatives

This collection of essays and responses acts as a cumulative learning process that brings together a wide array of perspectives from the comprehensive community building field. In an effort to open up communication between independent demonstration projects, 35 individuals agreed to engage with “issue-mapping” pieces written by Chapin Hall researchers.

Respondents include community service providers, community residents, foundation officers, social scientists, managers of comprehensive initiatives, advocates and community “intermediaries,” and community organizers. The aim of this collection if to form better bridges between the worlds of theory, evaluation and practice. The following core issues are addressed and responded to as outlined below:

1. Theories of Neighborhood Change by Robert Chaskin and Prudence Brown


  • Understanding a Community’s Own Story, by Mark R. Gornik
  • Truth in Lending, by Sharon Lovick Edwards
  • Making Theory Relevant for Practice, by Anita Miller
  • What if Everyone Had a Job? by Richard Taub
  • What Does it Take to Raise a Village? by Emily Menlo Marks

2. Exploring Visions of “Built” Community by Rebecca Stone, Lisa Dwyer and Gayatri Sethi


  • Managing Our Differences in CCIs, by Earl Durham
  • Asset-Driven Planning Fuels Vision and Action, by Cynthia D. Lowe and Xavier N. de Souza Briggs
  • An “Outsider’s” Perspective on Community-Building Initiatives, by Mary E. Rubin
  • An Intermediary Can Help Manage CCI Tensions, by Joan Walsh and Henry Izumizaki

3. The Role of the Sponsor by Stephen Baker, Robert Chaskin, and Joan Wynn


  • Sponsors’ Power: the Good, the Bad and the Potential for Change, by Craig Howard
  • Change May Come Only at the Price of Clarity, by Anne C. Kubisch
  • Harambee! by Sarah Ann Ford

4.  Neighborhood Governance by Robert Chaskin and Sunil Garg


  • Citizen Participation Is Where We Must Begin by Sokoni Karanja and Sandy O’Donnell
  • Function, Not Form, Is What Should Concern Us About Local Governance by Mitchell Sviridoff
  • Reflections on Community Governance in the Neighborhood and Family Initiative by Una Van Duval

5. Evaluation of Comprehensive Community-Building Initiaitives by Prudence Brown


  • Are We Making This Harder Than It Needs to Be? by Avis C. Vidal
  • Four Proposals in Response to Brown’s Essay on Evaluation, by Ronald F. Ferguson
  • The Benefit of Participatory Evaluation, by John Gaventa
  • On the Path of Engaged Evaluation: A Personal Response, by Kathryn Girard
6. Community Building and the Economic Context, by William Mollard
  • Can Community Building Change the Economic Context? by Paul D. Gottlieb
  • How CCIs Can and Do Address Economic Realities, by Andrew B. Hahn
  • The Need for a Political Economic Analysis of Challenges in Community Building, by Otis Johnson
  • Economic Development Strategies in Chicago CCIs, by Ted Wysocki

7. Capacity Building in Comprehensive Community Initiatives by Tim Hacsi


  • Where’s the Beef? Getting Bold about What ‘Comprehensive’ Means, by Charles Bruner
  • Where Have All The Flowers Gone? by Joseph B. McNeely
  • People vs. Place? CCIs Are About Much More, by Alice O’Connor
  • Building Capacity Must Be a Two-Way Street, by Miriam Shark

8. Community Organizing and Comprehensive Community Iniatives by Mark Joseph and Renae Ogletree


  • Organizing “Community,” by Harold DeRienzo
  • Let’s Emphasize Shared Power, Not Just Shifted Power, by Michael Eichler
  • Resident Involvement and Resident Control Are Not the Same, by Elisabethe Mack
  • Organizers Are the Glue in CCIs, by Gus Newport
  • Organizing is the Bridge Between Reality and Hope, by Garland Yates
Download the full report here.

Posted in Comprehensive Community Development: An Intro

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