A central question that fuels our curiosity at SCOPE is this: “How do we become connected and inspired, as fellow citizens, to create a better community here in Sarasota County?” These days, we are playing around with a framework associated with Place-Based Initiatives to help us explore this question. A Place-Based Initiative is an effort to bring about positive changes in personal and community circumstances – and not just in the lives of some people, but in an entire geographically-defined area. It involves comprehensive approaches to improving physical, social, and economic conditions, especially through community-building.1 Now that sounds a lot like what SCOPE is all about, don’t you think?
Over the past two decades, dozens of place-based initiatives have been launched in communities across the United States, with a total investment exceeding ten billion dollars.2 Currently there are several new federal programs to advance place-based efforts -- not to mention all of the international place-based initiatives that are out there.3 In other words, “PBI” is a hot topic around the globe.
So what’s involved in a Place-Based Initiative?
At the Aspen Institute there is a Roundtable on Community Change -- a group that convenes leaders, conducts research, and provides technical assistance related to community change efforts. This year, several members of the Roundtable (Anne C. Kubisch, Patricia Auspos, Prudence Brown and Thomas Dewar) published an article that provides an excellent overview of the various aspects of a place-based initiative -- definitely worth reading if you haven’t come across it already. In essence, a PBI involves coordinated efforts in 4 domains: community-building, programming/services, policy/systems, and evaluation. For those of us who like to be able to visualize complex concepts, I’ve created the following graphic to illustrate the framework (slightly updated with the latest wisdom):
At SCOPE, we are using this framework to map our organization’s efforts over the past decade, and to inform conversations about how best to navigate our future evolution. We are also using this PBI framework to organize our thinking about the neighborhood-specific community-building efforts in which SCOPE is investing, beginning with communities in Newtown and North Port.
We are looking forward to sharing our reflections and discoveries with you in the near future, both in person and in virtual conversation. In the meantime, see what you think about the ways in which this conceptualization helps to frame what your community or organization is about – and if it resonates with or confounds you, we hope you’ll let us know!
1 See the Spring, 2010 issue of Community Investments Online, which was devoted to Place-Based Initiatives.
2See the article titled Community Change Initiatives from 1990-2010: Accomplishments and Implications for Future Work by Anne C. Kubisch, Patricia Auspos, Prudence Brown and Thomas Dewar.
3See the article titled Improving the Outcomes of Place-Based Initiatives by Naomi Cytron.