Heart and Soul: Capturing the Heart of Communities
There is something special about every town—the old downtown, the pastures or woodlands, a get-it-done spirit, or an everyone-is-welcome ethic. Whether they are places, traditions, or attitudes, these community characteristics are the things that really matter to people. They draw people to a place and make them care about where they live.
This is what Community Heart & Soul™ aims to discover. Heart & Soul is a community engagement process that reconnects people with what they love most about their town and translates those personal and emotional connections into a blueprint that serves as the foundation for future community decisions. It's a barn-raising approach to community planning and development designed to increase participation in local decision-making and empower residents to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place.
Right now communities in our region are using the Heart and Soul process to shape their futures.
After dozens of interviews, hundreds of surveys and a lot of listening, Monticello Hear & Soul was able to create five values statements that are now being used to prioritize five actions that will strengthen the future of the community.
- Promote community celebrations
- Improve school facilities
- Welcome newcomers
- Establish recreational trails
- Support business ventures
The group has created an action plan that outlines the next steps. Additionally, the town will be participating in Keep Iowa Beautiful’s “Hometown Pride” program which will help them find the resources necessary to take action. The work done by the Heart & Soul team will ensure that the projects undertaken by the Hometown Pride volunteers have broad appeal to residents, key stakeholders have already been identified, and the projects will connect with the shared values of everyone in the community.
The Bellevue Heart & Soul team has been busy collecting stories and using them to determine what matters most to Bellevue residents. Dozens of people have been interviewed, hundreds of surveys have been collected, and local musicians have written songs about Bellevue using lyrics contributed by residents of all ages and backgrounds. Soon they’ll be laying out their plan for action and making decisions about the future of their town.
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If you have questions about how Community Heart & Soul could help your town make better decisions about its future, contact Jason Neises, community development coordinator or visit www.dbqfoundation.org/heartandsoul.