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Creating community engagement

October 15, 2012

Most of us feel attached to our communities, but what is it that attracts people to a certain place? The Knight Foundation, with the Gallup organization, did a study to see if there were common traits among various places, and after interviewing 43,000 people in 26 communities came to an interesting conclusion. The study found that the top three things that drive attachment are: social offerings, openness, and aesthetics (parks, art, and green spaces). Of course great schools and safe streets also have their place in making a community attractive, but the findings suggest that connection — whether with neighbors, through casual conversation in a coffee shop, or a Sunday afternoon spent reading outside in the park — is ultimately what most of us look for when we decide to settle down somewhere.

When people are more attached to the community they live in, they are often more engaged and are invested in making it a better place. If we are able to design our communities to create a sense of ownership over public spaces, perhaps the amount of litter, crime, and decay will decrease while innovation, prosperity and diversity increase. Check out some case studies going on in different cities around the U.S. based on these findings:

And here’s another reason it’s important to like where we live: People who are satisfied in the city they live in or feel that their community is becoming a better place to live are in better physical health than those who are dissatisfied. This holds true across all demographics and socioeconomic status; check out more about the relationship between community perception and health in this study.

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