Livability Project has created a set of tools to help their clients develop comprehensive city or community-wide livability programs. The Livability Project FrameworkTM is comprised of multiple modules designed to help business, government and community leaders leverage their unique attributes and evolve toward a more livable place. The framework helps the community articulate their tangible sustainability goals, and then provides a path towards achieving them.
The 12 modules are designed to operate independently or as a comprehensive program. A brief description of each module follows:
1. Assess the Community
2. Envision the Future
3. Establish an Organizational Foundation
4. Build Multiple Programs
5. Develop Business Incubation
6. Provide Education and Events
7. Engage the Community
8. Generate Multiple Income Streams
9. Form a Local Economy Center
10. Create an Online Community
11. Measure Results
12. Celebrate Successes
A community assessment involves gathering information about a community, and analyzing its unique attributes, players and group dynamics. Livability Project leads an assessment by conducting research, interviews and/or workshops. The end result is a brief report outlining the Community’s Champions and Leaders, Assets, Opportunities and Resources.
Livability Project helps the community design a plan using a dynamic Livability Mapping™ process that engages stakeholders to design their shared mission; develop an action plan; create an initial brand; and define expectations for an initial launch. They provide an interactive online map that serves as a central hub for participants to share information and track collective progress.
A solid foundation is required to build a sustainable organization. This module engages and guides founding members through the process of establishing their organization as a legal entity (e.g. non-profit, LLC or co-op, etc.). Livability Project offers guidance and tools to build organizational capacity, including establishing a board, budget, staff roles and responsibilities, various committees and working groups, as well as organizational programs, such as: fundraising, volunteer, outreach and marketing.
A Livability Project community is capable of simultaneously promoting multiple, innovative products and services, launching diverse programs and supporting businesses. This is because each community leverages resources and establishes partnerships to launch their initial project(s) or program(s). Types of projects or programs can fall in areas, such as:
- Recycling and Sustainable Materials;
- Energy efficiency and Renewable energy;
- Green business training and promotion;
- Creating walk-able and green spaces;
- Sustainable transportation; and/or
- Local and healthy food.
Business Incubators typically support nascent companies by modeling, mentoring and sharing good business practices to accelerate their growth and improve their chances of success. Incubators also provide office space and support services (e.g. phones, photocopy equipment, etc.). A new generation of incubators offers a broad array of perspectives, such as environmental sustainability, economic development, and/or social justice. This module shares organizational structure templates and best practices for start-up incubator companies.
Education and events are a key part of any community initiative’s mission. Livability Project can help you design, launch and participate in a number of events that may include: presentations by local experts and authors, movies, roundtable and panel discussions, workshops and ad hoc networking for community building.
It is necessary to reach beyond your board and volunteers to engage the entire community. Livability Project can help you create awareness for your programs through efforts, such as: public relations, competitions and/or events, as well as business and citizens association outreach and partner and liaison programs. By doing this, you can show support for your business community, residents, students and other organizations, which can create market demand for other partners who in turn can support your initiative.
The continued success of a local sustainability initiative is highly dependent on generating ongoing revenue. Livability Project can help your organization be as self-sufficient as possible. Your initiative can be designed to become a hub of activity focused on local community and economic development. Including some or all of the following income streams will help defray the cost of operations and pay for the program(s):
- Donations, memberships and in-kind contributions;
- Government, corporate and foundation grants;
- Incubation and other service fees;
- Events and program fees; and/or
- Affiliate and partner programs.
Module 9. Form a Local Economy Center
Integrating the vision and programs into the fabric of your community will be accelerated with the development of a physical space and hub of activity. The space can be seen and utilized as part community center, part sustainability education center, part green jobs incubator, and “local hangout”. Livability Project can help you build a Livability Center where you can advance your community’s local economy, and where people can connect to move your initiatives forward. Creative sponsorship models can be used to finance a center including rent, exhibits, displays, build-out, launch and operation.
An online presence is critical, not only to the initiative’s image, but to educate citizens, recruit volunteers and enable opportunities for others to share information and communicate. Livability Project can guide you through the process of creating online tools practices, such as:
- Building and maintaining a website;
- Distributing an e-newsletter;
- Leveraging social media (FaceBook, Linked-In, Twitter, YouTube, etc.);
- Developing a contact database; and/or
- Online mapping.
With all of this activity, it is necessary to record progress towards achieving your project’s goals, and to measure the results of the programs. Livability Project can help you identify anecdotal evidence, and design and apply both qualitative and quantitative metrics. It is important to create tools to measure effectiveness, update and monitor plans and progress, and share best practices.
Some may be tempted to dismiss this as just the “fun stuff”. While it is a lot of fun to enjoy your success, Livability Project can show you how to identify and use celebration as a tool for building community spirit, pride and soliciting more participation from stakeholders. Different means include Annual Reports, Leadership Awards, Volunteer Rewards Programs and Community Celebrations.
“Dave Feldman’s broad-thinking strategic advice was critical to the successful formation of our organization.”
Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director, Poolesville Green
The Livability Project team can by contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.