1. Matt Korner says

    The most important factor is socioeconomic integration.

    People of varying incomes must be able to easily form social networks that enhance socioeconomic mobility and spur economic growth.

    • PlaceMakers says

      Great point, Matt. I suppose I had this one mentally filed under “Walkable, connected, mixed-use character” but definitely failed to address it in the narrative. A worthy addition moving forward. –SD

  2. Yes, what you missed was the foundation for good neighborhoods and places and that is safe, affordable housing. Communities will flourish when there is an adequate supply of affordable housing for families, workers, seniors close to all the amenities you described above. But it has to start with a place to live. And building on what Matt said, maintaining existing affordable housing in areas being revitalized and building new affordable housing is critical to supporting and enhancing integration and economic stability for all.

    • PlaceMakers says

      I agree, Cathy, but will have to put some thought into it, as the devil is clearly in the execution. Much of what I’ve identified, I think, are things which lay the groundwork for exactly what you’re referring to: a physical context which allows for a variety of context-appropriate housing solutions — both subsidized and market-responsive — and a social context more amenable to the idea that categorizing ourselves by income is bad policy. –SD

  3. yep, it’s all about sense of place, which now i realize includes good governance. thanks for the additional insight.

  4. What about sports/recreation opportunities?

  5. I agree with the introductory comment that the people tend to get the least attention of the triple bottom line. We founded our company to specifically address this shortcoming.

    I do like Cathy’s comment about housing. One of our ideas is to create a mixed generational housing style (similar in concept to mixed-use). More detail at

    We are hoping that this concept will facilitate such things as aging in neighborhood, while allowing better utilization of the larger family housing by having the empty nesters move a really short distance (a few feet to a few houses) to a smaller unit to allow the next family to move into the larger units.

    One missing topic, for me, is local food. For example for #7, Tree Culture, I would recommend considering changing the trees to be fruit trees. We live in Denver for which water is a limited resource. I would like to see our limited water going towards food production instead of trying to make Denver look like the more water abundant East coast or Midwest.

  6. Good list, Scott, and great conversation starter.

    I would add local ownership. There is a growing body of sociological and anthropological research finding that communities that have a larger share of independent businesses have more “collective efficacy” — the ability to come together to solve problems. Specifically, they’ve found, all else being equal, the share of the economy that is locally owned correlates with more community organizations, more participation in civic life, and even more voting.

    More here:

  7. Within mixed-use development that exemplifies community building, a mix of travel options is inherent. Walkability alone cannot connect neighborhoods and districts separated by long distance. Mass transit should be considered a fundamental mode of travel necessary to reduce our absurd dependency upon automobiles. Nothing isolates people from their communities more than driving. We’d better plan for the day when driving as we know it ends.

    Oh wait. Corporate America has determined that our future depends upon autonomous, self-driving cars. Open the door, Hal. I can’t do that, Dave.

  8. Marc Brenman says

    The author has forgotten the other leg of sustainable development– social equity. Tom Sanchez and I discuss this in our new book from Island Press, “Planning as if People Matter: Governing for Social Equity.”

    • PlaceMakers says

      It’s not that I’ve forgotten it, Marc. Simply that I categorize it under my number one point, good governance. Granted the language of social equity could be more explicitly spelled out — as I share your view of its importance — but it’s inherent in my larger point: Strong community begins and ends with trust which local government simply can’t build in any meaningful way without being fair and equitable in their dealings with and distribution of services to their various constituencies. Good governance doesn’t apply to some of the people. It’s gotta be evenly applied to all the people. –SD

  9. A very nice step toward dealing with a critical issue.

  10. I’d say one place to start is by creating information hubs where knowledge about community issues are aggregated and made available to support the involvement of others in the community. The Open Indicators Consortium hosts links to projects in various cities that do some of this information aggregation.

    However, I think there is a need to combine poverty and indicators mapping with overlays of social service providers operating in different parts of a city. In the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator I host a database of nearly 170 non-school tutoring and/or mentoring programs.

    With this information available to anyone in the community, the next steps would be to encourage on-going learning in which people in faith groups, businesses, civic and social organizations are reading articles hosted on aggregation sites and discussing what that means to them and ways to use their talent, time, dollars and political connections to improve the support system and opportunities for youth and families in the high poverty parts of the community.

    I describe this process in this pdf –

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  12. Duane Kinnon says

    If I missed it, I apologize, but safety is the most important factor in having strong, vibrant communities. Great article, great discussion!


  1. […] creative writer, and earlier this month he posted on the firm’s blog a provocative article called “Seven Keys to Stronger Community.” This follows a great tradition in nonfiction writing of numbering things: In the last five years, […]

  2. […] Scott Doyon at PlaceMakers lays out his “seven keys to stronger community” in urban spaces, the last of which, he says, is “tree culture.” When communities pass ordinances forbidding all tree removal, that can lead to dysfunction, he argues. […]

  3. […] for PlaceMakers, Scott Doyon recently argued that among the seven highly useful keys to a stronger community is a commitment to a strong tree canopy. However, Doyon notes that many communities approach this […]

  4. […] was reminded of this when I happened across a blog entry by Scott Doyon at Place Makers, entitled Seven Keys to Stronger Community. Doyon is part of a team of urban planners who advocate building community via some well-respected […]

  5. […] as, to cite my earlier example, an economic development tool. Or a tool towards better health. Or stronger community ties. Or environmental […]

  6. […] Writing for the Atlantic Cities, Benfield made note of a list – yes, a numbered one – produced by Scott Doyon, a principal at a respected planning firm, that surveyed the “seven keys to stronger community.” […]

  7. […] Doyon, a partner with Place Makers, recently posted Seven Keys to Stronger Community as a response to the question: “Where do we start?” This is not an exhaustive list, and he […]

  8. […] Community,” which was itself commentary on Scott Doyon’s (for PlaceMakers) “Seven Keys to a Stronger Community.”  Three articles in one post and a great topic to boot.  So the natural progression seemed […]

  9. […] wrote about a series of these back in October. Not ways to create community, mind you, but ways to foster it. Ways that cities […]

  10. Image Blog says:

    A Meaningful Way To Keep Your Keys…

    […] nt course of action, it’s a direct form of community engagement and empowermen […]…

  11. […] wrote about a series of these here. Not ways to create community, mind you, but ways to foster it. Ways that cities and towns can aid […]

  12. […] In sustainability’s triple bottom line of profits, planet and people, it’s people that tend to get the shaft. There’s an entire industry surrounding environmental advocacy and we can always coun  […]

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