What Are the 7 Keys to a Strong Community?

By Kain Benfield
Published: October 22, 2012

I am fortunate to have befriended, one way or another, some people who are very good at the business of thinking about, designing, and building good communities. While many of them are architects and planners, primarily concerned with physical space, community-building is an art with elusive goals, as Eric Jacobsen’s book (reviewed here last week) argues:  even if you get the physical elements right, there’s no guarantee that a place will function as a true community, as more than just a place.

That said, it really helps to have a good place in which to anchor true community. One of my community-building friends is Scott Doyon, a partner in a planning firm that signals its interest in place loud and clear: it’s called PlaceMakers. They do fantastic work, and every one of the firm’s principals that I have met is thoughtful about it. (That’s not to say that I am thrilled with everything their clients do, of course.) I’m impressed with much of their work, such as their planning assistance to Ranson, West Virginia that I profiled here last year.

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