The Heart & Soul Community Planning Handbook explains how a values-based approach can engage citizens in the process of planning their future and provides assistance for completing a Heart & Soul process in your community.
In 2008, the Orton Family Foundation pioneered Heart & Soul Community Planning, a process that has so far been piloted in four communities in New England and the Rocky Mountains. “This new way of building vibrant and enduring communities is designed to bring citizens back into the process of charting the future of their cities and towns… With the participation of those who live, work and play in a community, a town can tap into its own values to direct growth and change, protecting and enhancing its heart and soul."
The Foundation is currently in the process of developing a H&S Handbook that describes the entire process, first explaining the reasoning behind Heart & Soul Community Planning, then walking through the steps to achieve an inclusive, enduring, long-term community plan. With detailed descriptions of new tools and methods and examples from on the ground, this handbook is a resource for planners and citizens alike.
The first set of Handbook chapters are now posted and more will be added soon. The Handbook includes specific examples and detailed how-tos, some of which include:
1. Why Heart & Soul?: It is important for communities to identify and preserve their own unique character, their heart & soul, to maintain a vibrant way of life.
2. Designing your Heart & Soul Community Planning Project: Each community must create a plan that fits with their own unique goals, needs, and limitations.
3. Selecting a Project Coordinator: It is important to choose someone who can engage the entire community in the process, acting as much more than just a project manager.
4. Outreach and Communications: Many options exist for reaching out to your community; you need the right methods, language, and messages to reach out to a diverse audience.
5. Forming your Community Advisory Team: A team should reflect the diverse interests of the community and help inform and motivate future plans.
6. Building Partnerships: To effectively utilize all the resources in your community, collaborate with various organizations, agencies, and individuals.
7. Community Network Analysis: A helpful tool in recognizing and taking advantage of under-utilized resources and people within the community.
8. Engaging Youth: Discover new perspectives, opinions, and values within the community by reaching out to your youth.
9. Storytelling: Getting at what Really Matters. By sharing experiences and memories, communities can create a communal story and begin to understand the values behind these shared experiences.
In addition to these detailed steps, the Handbook includes several Quick Guides on specific tools like Story Circles, Story Interviewing and Selecting a Project Coordinator.