Just as transportation, land use, the natural environment, economic prosperity, and housing are crucial components of a livable region, so is community development. It is an aspect of planning that is rooted in equity and seeks to create communities that are diverse, healthy, inclusive, safe, and vibrant.
Based on the principles outlined in GO TO 2040, community development efforts should result in:
- Every resident in our region having equal access to the region's assets.
- Decision-making regarding investment in our communities and region should be equally distributed to all parts of the region. Every community should have its fair share of regional investments that benefit residents and those that burden residents.
- Decisions affecting community residents should be made with a high degree of collaborative leadership and public participation, with special emphasis on disenfranchised populations.
Achieving livability is more than just planning for the physical infrastructure of our communities, it is equally important to consider the human and community development aspects of planning. Including those who are directly affected by local planning decisions communities can positively impact local buy-in, thus strengthening the sustainability of recommended actions.
Public participation is at the heart of human and community development. GO TO 2040's success is in large part due to its high degree of public involvement, which was encouraged throughout the entire planning process. Residents must have a seat at the table to ensure outcomes of local and regional decision-making are implementable. However, it's not enough simply to invite residents and stakeholders to participate, leadership must be transparent throughout the public process, collaborative, share knowledge, and offer meaningful opportunities for feedback.
Community development can mean a number of things depending on where you live. Generally speaking, community development focuses on issues related to people, such as health and wellness, safety and security, aging, and arts and culture.
In regards to health and human services, GO TO 2040 recommends that philanthropic giving should focus on improving the delivery of social services so that organizations can have a greater impact on communities and the region as a whole. GO TO 2040 also points to the importance of "aging in place," the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level, as a key strategy for aging communities.
Public health is also important to community development efforts. With chronic disease, namely cancer and diabetes, on the rise, public health is a declining. GO TO 2040 acknowledges the need to consider public health when making land use decision; providing more opportunities for walking and recreation has been shown to improve public health.
Achieving livability in our region will require us to go beyond the realm of physical planning. Integrating community development with planning efforts will result in a comprehensive approach to shaping where we live. Community development will help us to create communities and a vibrant, livable region, as recommended in GO TO 2040.