What is Community Heart & Soul?
Community Heart & Soul is a resident-driven process that engages the entire population of a town in identifying what they love most about their community, what future they want for it, and how to achieve it.
Developed and field-tested over a decade in partnership with over 100 small cities and towns across America, Community Heart & Soul is a proven process for engaging a community in shaping its future.
How it Works
Community Heart & Soul is an ongoing practice that provides municipal officials with a clear understanding of what matters most to their constituents–all the residents–and forges a partnership that builds on the first thing everyone has in common: they all live here. It’s not a report that sits on a shelf; it’s a way of coming together to make your town a better place to live in and visit.
Community Heart & Soul begins with a four-phase, step-by-step process that brings residents together to identify and honor the unique character of their town and the emotional connection of the people who live there.
“The Community Heart & Soul model has been the perfect fit for my organization as we work to strengthen rural Iowa communities. I’ve learned so much about community engagement, helping emerging leaders, and developing authentic relationships with people in our small towns.”— Jason Neises, Certified Coach Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
Phase 1: Imagine
Heart & Soul teams are formed to build awareness, interest, and commitment in all segments of the community.
Phase 2: Connect
Stories are gathered from residents, leading to the development of Heart & Soul Statements that identify what matters most and reflect what they love about their towns.
Phase 3: Plan
Residents develop action plans to guide future town planning based on their Heart & Soul Statements.
Phase 4: Act
Heart & Soul Statements are officially adopted by town and city councils, incorporated into comprehensive and other plans, and are used to guide future policies and decisions.
Kershaw Invests In Community With New Ideas In Old Spaces
Ben Speggen, of Our Towns Civic Foundation, examines how Kershaw, South Carolina repurposed its past and embraced the Community Heart & Soul® process to rebuild for the future.Read More
Community Heart & Soul Through the Eyes of James & Deborah Fallows
Watch authors, journalists, and founders Deborah & James Fallows of Our Towns Civic Foundation share what they’ve seen firsthand about Community Heart & Soul driving positive change in communities.Watch Now
Bridgton, Maine: ‘Small town, Big Love’
Bridgton, Maine is embarking on Community Heart & Soul as the town updates its comprehensive plan. One of our newest seed grant recipients, this western Maine community looked to the Community Heart & Soul model to ensure the plan includes input from all residents.Read More
Upson County is about 90 minutes southeast of Atlanta and is the first Heart & Soul community in the state of Georgia. The county seat is Thomaston, which serves as a hub for the area. The Thomaston-Upson County School District serves the entire county. Georgia EMC provided coaching services on behalf of the local electric cooperative Upson EMC. Both city and county government and local organizations, supported Thomaston-Upson’s Community Heart & Soul initiative. The Project Coordinator retained her office at the County Clerk’s office, which reinforced the collaboration that was essential for this countywide effort.Thomaston-Upson Heart & Soul, Georgia
Commendation from state legislature
with a resolution designating Thomaston-Upson Community Heart & Soul Day at the State Capitol.
Thomaston Chamber of Commerce
recognized the Heart & Soul team with a “Unity in Community” Award (2018).
“Because we intentionally gathered their stories, connections were made between people who would otherwise have never met. Those connections led to action items that matter most to everyone.”— Jenny Robbins, Community Heart & Soul Coach
Community Heart & Soul Towns
From Downeast Maine to the Heartlands to the Pacific Northwest, towns and residents are making change in their communities. Click on the map to see where it’s happening and hear their stories. Let us give you a guided tour through the transformation with Community Heart & Soul.