Wyoming County Heart & Soul team photo

Every town has a heart and soul that reflects what residents love about their community and why they choose to live there.

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Hi, it’s Lyman Orton, founder of Community Heart & Soul. Our free Intro Book will help you quickly grasp Community Heart & Soul.

Collage of photos of residents in Community Heart Soul Towns

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 120 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.

The real work of Community Heart & Soul gets underway upon completion of the 4 phases. That’s when Heart & Soul teams put into action the plans they developed based on their Heart & Soul Statements.

Latest News

Learn our history and mission from Community Heart & Soul founder, Lyman Orton, proprietor of The Vermont Country Store.

Lyman Orton

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.