Have you ever wondered how to identify a strong community? Over the last forty years, we’ve refined our vision of what it takes to be a well-woven neighborhood tapestry and how to get there. You may read this list and think “oh man, what communities meet all of these?” The answer is: not many. We’re here to gather donors, neighbors, partners, and ourselves in order to make the dream a reality. You’ll notice that neither affluent nor marginalized neighborhoods tend to meet these criteria. You’ll also notice that they serve as the categories for all of our initiatives here at FCS.
A community is no community at all without relationships, or when only commuter relationships exist. We believe in forging bonds with local leaders, local partners, and local programs. Notice where the community gathers and what it gathers around. When you spot a neighborhood where neighbors know each other, look out for each other, and even enjoy each other, you can be certain you’ve found a rare place. Of course, we have tips for ways you can get started (link to former blog) in your own community to build up ties with those closest to you geographically.
Unity and diversity work like iron sharpening iron - some sparks may fly, but ultimately the result is stronger and sharper. We’ve written about moments in Historic South Atlanta where our diverse community united and can say firsthand how powerful of a witness it is. A neighborhood that blends different income levels ends up with a more robust, creative, and thoughtful tone. Neighbors practice magnanimity on a day to day basis, preparing them for partnership out in the community. Singapore offers a great example of how mixed-income neighborhoods, in their case through public housing, sow peace throughout the entire country. What a vision! At FCS, we believe affordable housing is the cornerstone of mixed-income community, which is why we create workforce homes, lower-income affordable homes, and affordable rentals.
Coffee shops, grocery stores, small service businesses and more can increase access to resources for all neighbors when geared toward a mixed-income community. Neighborhoods with vibrant local economies help neighbors go deeper by encouraging them to spend more time in the neighborhood. Overall, a strong local economy can boost neighbors’ health by cutting down on commute times, providing jobs as a means of redistributing resources, and pouring dollars back into the community itself. Even more, local entrepreneurs serve as role models and job-experience for younger residents, encouraging them to dream big and boost their resumes.
Strong, healthy communities welcome visitors and are up for telling their story. The strongest of communities will be able to share their wisdom and receive people hospitably. New people can expect to be acknowledged and taught about the neighborhood. When a neighborhood is proud, it’s happy for others to see! Parts of sharing include highlighting neighborhood artists, local festivals, accomplishments of youth. In this way, hospitality combines with celebration.
We’re working together towards building a strong community in Historic South Atlanta. Next time you stroll through your neighborhood, take a peek at these elements. How can you make your community stronger? What else would you add to the list?