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Advisory Council Plans To Implement Report on Community Building.

The 1998 Futures Report, Building A Nation of Communities, focuses attention on the importance of community to municipal government. The topic, chosen by NLC First Vice President Clarence Anthony, is one of his key concerns, because, as he says, "We are a nation of communities."

Anthony, mayor of South Bay, Fla. will speak to the Advisory Council while they are in Kansas City about plans for organizational implementation of ideas from the report. During 1999, NLC will draw upon Building A Nation of Communities to develop activities that carry forth many of the report's findings and conclusions.

Building A Nation of Communities will be presented to the NLC Board of Directors and the Advisory Council members at the Congress of Cities.

The Report

The report suggests roles for local elected officials in creating a sense of "community" and a capacity for "community" in the nation's cities and towns. These roles include:

* starting a conversation--speak out about the need to build community;

* engaging citizens and create and encourage activities that bring citizens together;

* investing in community --take action to build community by investing municipal resources, staff time, training, and political capital; and

* working with community groups and local institutions.

Building A Nation of Communities provides dozens of local examples of innovative and successful programs designed to help municipal officials carry out a mission of building a nation of communities throughout our country.

This report is the product of a year-long effort by the NLC Advisory Council, on behalf of elected officials.

It highlights "common threads" or "community ingredients" necessary for true "community" to flourish in cities and towns. These ingredients include: inclusiveness, interactivity, shared responsibility, equity, connectedness, economic participation, and mutual obligation.

Building A Nation of Communities notes that the strength of a community affects municipal officials' abilities to address the full range of issues they face as local elected leaders. "When community is weak and local residents are isolated, then you're weak and isolated too," says Advisory Council Chair David W. Moore, mayor of Beaumont, Tex. "As municipal officials, we have a real interest in creating a climate where everyone can participate and be a part of the community in some way, and where everyone's voice is heard."

What is the state of community in America today? What's at stake for local officials and local government? What can local officials do? These are just some of the key issues addressed in Building A Nation of Communities.

During their conversations, Advisory Council members agreed that strengthening community in our cities and towns is important for local officials because community:

* encourages citizen responsibility;

* creates ownership and buyin;

* helps people understand the complexity of local issues;

* community empowers people to solve problems;

* breaks down stereotypes;

* makes it easier to identify problems early; and

* helps solve problems.

The "community" topic was presented to the Advisory Council by Anthony when they met during NLC's Congressional City Conference in March.

A free copy of the report will also be available to conference delegates and can be obtained by dropping by the NLC Resource Center in the Kansas City Convention Center.

Additional copies of this report can be obtained by contacting the NLC Publications Center at (301) 725-4299.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Cheek, Dorothy; Barnes, William
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 30, 1998
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