Community Development Society

News and Information

Hometown Pride is Good for Business in McComb, Ohio

Business is picking up in the northwest Ohio town of McComb (pop. 1,600). From a car dealer to a carpet store, merchants are feeling optimistic and opening shops.  In one month’s time eight ribbon cuttings have happened. 

When has there been so much activity in this small town? There hasn’t, at least not in the past six decades.

“There hasn’t been anything happening downtown, because, as long as I can remember, it was a furniture store. When the furniture store went out, downtown was devastated,” said Joe Wasson, whose family owned Bennett’s Furniture Town. 

In 2013, Bennett’s closed. That left 50,000 square feet of retail space in 16 buildings vacant, right downtown. Since then Wasson has been among those working to help write McComb’s next chapter. Wasson has been involved in economic development efforts and is project coordinator for a Community Heart & Soul™ project that kicked off a year ago.

Community Heart & Soul is a community development method pioneered by the Orton Family Foundation. The project is a partnership with The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation.  

In June, three ribbon cuttings were held:  Select Auto Group at the edge of downtown; Northwestern Water and Sewer District Water Shed, a place for people to fill jugs with drinking water;  and  Great Scot storage facility behind the Great Scot supermarket.

A few weeks later ribbons were cut at Siferd’s Carpet, which moved back into a space it occupied about six years earlier; Bread & Butter Antiques, celebrating  renovations after a storm damaged its building; McComb Emporium, a group-owned antique and vintage goods store; Kayro’s Fine Art, an art studio where classes are also held; and Tees, Tees and More, a custom embroidery and retail shop. 

Holly Hanken, owner of Tees, Tees and More in downtown, felt like the timing was right to start her business. She sensed good things happening around the Heart & Soul project and decided to take the plunge. So far, business is going better than she projected and she’s excited to be getting work locally and from out of town.

“It’s a good time for McComb. McComb is moving into its next phase of life cycle, definitely in a positive way,” Hanken said.

image of shop owner

It’s hard to say what factor or factors are contributing to McComb’s momentum, Wasson said. But McComb Region Heart & Soul, which is still underway, has helped foster a sense that local residents can steer change and that’s helped make people feel optimistic about the future.

“There’s a new sense of pride here in town. I can see that as I walk down any street. People are taking care of their yards a little better. It’s a whole sense of community,” Wasson said. “Heart and Soul’s been a big part of that. Would it have happened without Heart and Soul? I don’t know what path we’d be on, but it’s a byproduct of seeing that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that things are happening, and that we are in control of what happens to us.”

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Community Development Data Viz June 2016

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Community Development Data Viz - May 2016

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Featuring Cases of International CD Work

By Jim Cavaye


The CDS International Committee has been active in fostering networks between community development practitioners from across the globe.  The committee has worked closely with International Association for Community Development (IACD) and developed an updated MOU between CDS and IACD.  We look forward to the joint conference between the two organisations in July and will welcome international delegates at our reception just before the conference opening.  

The committee is seeking international case studies of community development practice to feature on the CDS website and to foster sharing between practitioners.  We invite practitioners from any country to provide a brief description of their work or a particular community activity together with one or two photos.  We’d like practitioners to describe “learnings” and key points about the aspects of community development which been important to the project or activity.  Please contact Jim Cavaye (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Gary Goreham (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information.


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Community Development Data Viz - March 2016

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Community Development Data Viz February 2016

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Community Development Data Viz January 2016

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Community Development Data Viz - October 2015

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Passing of Dr. Jerry W. Robinson, Jr.

By Gisele Hamm

Dr. Jerry W. Robinson, Jr.

February 12, 1932 – August 31, 2015

It is with great sadness that we inform you that the Community Development Society has lost a dear friend and colleague recently. Dr. Jerry W. Robinson, Jr. passed away August 31, 2015 at his residence in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Jerry was a Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology, Emeritus at Delta State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Professor at Houston Baptist College. His obituary can be accessed here.

Jerry was one of the founding members of the Community Development Society and served on various committees including the Editorial Committee. Jerry received the 1987 Community Development Achievement Award and the 2002 Duane L. Gibson Distinguished Service Award. 

Jerry’s exceptional dedication to the Community Development Society was evident throughout the years. In 1989, with James A. Christenson, Jerry co-authored the book, Community Development in Perspective and directed all royalties from the book to the CDS Endowment.  In the acknowledgements, the authors note, “We appreciate the encouragement and support of the Community Development Society. The costs of production for this book were born by the authors and the universities in which they work. We feel strongly that the society needs more books focusing on the profession, and, to this end, all royalties generated from this book will go to the Community Development Society of America to be used to encourage and support future endeavors.”

Jerry was a highly valued and respected member of CDS, and with many great contributions to the Society, he has left a lasting legacy that will not be forgotten.


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FREE New Book by CDS member Timothy Collins

Check out the latest from Timothy Collins - a free downloadable book! Here's more:

Macomb, IL—            Selling the State: Economic Development Policy in Kentucky, has been published by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University.


The full-length book, written by Timothy Collins, IIRA assistant director, is the story of a state’s efforts to adapt its economic development policies to changing times from the 1950s to the 1990s.


“Studies like this are extremely rare, although there has been increased interest in economic development policy recently,” Collins said. “This book grew out of my dissertation work and represents more than 25 years of research and writing.”


Selling the State traces policies of nine Kentucky governors who sought to build unity around job creation with the promise that industrial attraction would improve living conditions in the cities and rural areas of the Commonwealth. The book uses the governors’ words, legislative and court records, state publications, and newspaper accounts to interpret the gradual expansion of state-level economic development policy.


“Frankly, the state’s efforts met with mixed results in the long run,” Collins said. “Reduction of poverty was one positive outcome. But in terms of alleviating regional disparities and changing the state’s position relative to the rest of the nation, the policies were not fully successful.”


Themes in the book include:


·         state-level activism to deal with uneven economic development and poverty by attracting new businesses;

·         sometimes reluctant protection of existing natural-resources-based industries;

·         suggestions of changing social-class relationships, especially in the area of loss of small businesses;

·         constantly increasing incentives to match tougher national and global competition;

·         an off-and-on connection between economic development policy and improved education; and

·         the emergence of neoconservative and neoliberal thinking at the state level in order to promote a more business-friendly climate.


The book is unusual because there are so few in-depth studies of states’ economic development policies. The historic perspective helps lend understanding to the problematic evolution of business incentives.


As former Daily Yonder editor Bill Bishop notes in the Foreword: “Selling the State tells how choices made over a century sustained a culture that was, in a sense, economically inert. It was a choice the state made—rather a series of choices. Kentucky wasn’t alone in its economic path. The consequences of those decisions—traced in the book’s charts—have been profound.”


Selling the State is available for free from the IIRA website,



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Passing of Paul S. Denise

With a heavy heart we pass on the news of the passing of former CDS leader Paul Denise in May of this year. He was professor  and  former chair of the Community Development Department at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.  He co-authored the book,  Experiential  Education for Community Development with Ian Harris. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California-Berkeley and served in the U.S. Army.  His wife, Anna, preceded him in death in 1987. He was born October 16, 1925 and died April 21, 2015 in Seattle. His ashes will be scattered in Pugent Sound.

Ron Hustedde was Paul’s former graduate student in the 19070s  at SIU and he wanted to make sure we shared this within our community.


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President's Update - Staying connected with CDS

By Gisele Hamm

The Community Development Society Annual International Conference held in Lexington last month truly lived up to its ‘Creativity and Culture’ theme, thanks to the outstanding contributions of the Local Host Committee, artists, presenters, and participants! If you were able to join us in Lexington, I hope you came away from the conference re-energized and excited about the opportunities in the field of community development.  We have posted the Powerpoint presentations, President’s Remarks, and links to photos from the 2015 conference on the CDS website so I would encourage you to check them out.

As the new President of the Community Development Society, I appreciated the ideas, feedback, and words of encouragement that so many of you shared, and am inspired by the desire expressed by many, including our new and international members, to get involved in the Society. CDS is YOUR organization, and member involvement is key to making CDS an enriching and engaging network for the membership.  I would like to encourage every CDS member to join at least one of our committees this year.  Participation in a committee does not require a great deal of time or effort, but is a rewarding experience, a great way to network with other members, and serves to strengthen the Society. Please take some time to review the CDS Committees information and contact the chair of the committee(s) of interest to join.

For the 325 participants who attended the 2015 CDS Conference in Lexington, a conference evaluation form is available here. Your input will provide valuable insight for the 2016 Community Development Society and the International Association for Community Development Joint International Conference to be held July 17-20, 2016, in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA.  Next year’s conference theme is: Sustaining Community Change: Building Local Capacity to Sustain Development Initiatives. The Program Planning Committee and Local Host Committee are already in the midst of conference planning and preparations, and next year’s conference promises to be one you will not want to miss. If you have not already, I would encourage you to “like” the 2016 Community Development Society Conference Facebook page to stay informed of exciting 2016 conference details as they develop.

I look forward to my term as CDS President this year, and would love to hear the ideas, concerns, or comments you might have for the Society, so please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, I would encourage you to get engaged in the various CDS social media sites if you have not already to network and increase your level of involvement in the Society. We are on Facebook (Public Group (here) / Community Page (here)), LinkedIn (here), and Twitter (here).

Let’s make this the Community Development Society’s best year yet!


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Community Development Data Viz - June 2015




Community development word cloud




Rural broadband connectivity




Community Leaders and their qualities


politics diversity


Diversity in American Politics

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Peace Leadership for Community Development

By Whitney McIntyre Miller

Today I want to introduce you to a new model, which has broad implications for community development.  Coming from the field of leadership studies, peace leadership is a new sub-field that builds upon leadership studies, peace studies, and conflict resolution.  Peace leadership is an emerging area of study, and I am pleased to be working at the start of such an interesting movement.

The model that I have been working on with a colleague is called the “Integral Perspective of Peace Leadership”.  The model builds off of Ken Wilber’s integral theory and focuses on peace leadership as a space to work in four areas collectively: innerwork, or reflective self-development practices; theories and processes, or the mechanisms which we build peace in ourselves and communities; communities of practices, or the collective spaces where we take up this work; and globality of the field, or the broader systemic relationships we have with each other and the environment.  The notion of the model is to build our collective leadership capacity for peace in all arenas of life- both in terms of challenging existing structures and mechanisms of violence and building new structures and societies in the image of peace.

This model is important to community development, as it challenges us to move beyond the valuable work we do in creating robust communities of practice with strong theoretical underpinnings to continue to grow our focus on systems thinking; drawing broader connections beyond the communities with which we work; and also focusing on each of our own innerwork.  Building upon our innerwork, with practices such as mindfulness, meditation, authenticity, empathy, help us to, in turn, build stronger communities, which are then more connected to their broader, surrounding environment.  The model allows us to envision our communities as those comprised of reflective individuals who collectively form a strong focused whole- understanding our shared needs and how these connect with the broader society and environment.  If we can work to build such communities, perhaps we can further challenge the violence of the day and build a world in which we all want to live.  I hope you will explore not just this model of peace leadership, but the broader notions of peace leadership in your community development practice.


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Community Development Leader Janet Ayres lauded for Career Contributions

Purdue’s University retiring faculty member Dr. Janet Ayres was recently honored by the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development with a new major award at its annual fall conference.  The award, presented by Indiana’s Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, was intended to recognize the recipient of the inaugural
John Niederman Rural Development Leadership Award.  According to the October 15, 2014 Carroll County Comet[1], Lt. Governor Ellspermann said, “For more than three decades, Dr. Janet Ayres has worked to improve the quality of life in rural Indiana by building the skills, knowledge and leadership capacity of its residents. She has worked tirelessly in support of conservation, playing an instrumental role in developing the leadership development program for the Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors.”

“Janet Ayres was an inspiring partner in region-wide initiatives for much of her career, and was a real force in pulling the North Central state extension program leaders together as a team during her stint in that role as the representative from Purdue,” said Scott Loveridge, Director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.  Among her accomplishments is leading authorship of the widely recognized NCRCRD-published “Take Charge: Economic Development in Small Communities” a curriculum that was widely implemented by Extension professional across the country in the 1990s.

Dr. Janet Ayers made a significant contribution to the Community Development profession and the Community Development Society adds its thanks and best wishes on the occasion of her retirement. 



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Community Development Data Viz - May 2015


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Looking for a career in community development?

By Cindy Banyai

Lots of members of the Community Development Society have eagerly been sharing job listings with organizations they know in the hopes of bringing high quality and motivated people into the field. Below are some of the most recent opening. 

Local Government Specialist - UW Extension, Deadline May 18
Community, Natural Resource And Economic Development Agent - UW Extension, Deadline May 12
Community Development ProfessionalFederal Reserve Bank of Chicago
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Community Development Data Viz - April 2015



Migration network analysis

mv7 bor rou sha


Carbon dioxide consumption in honor of Earth Day on April 22


schools local food


School districts using local foods



snap falls


Food assistance costs falling



High cost of wetland restoration




Percentage on WIC support

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President's Update - Getting a Pulse on Our Profession

By Dave Lamie
Over the past several months I have been formulating a set of questions, or perhaps hypotheses, that I do not think can be answered fully without some serious effort to collect and evaluate data and synthesize the results. You see, as President of CDS, I can say something about the "State of the Society". I can say something about the organizations's fiscal health, our membership, and our ability to produce measurable outcomes like the Vanguard, the Journal, CD Practice, and our annual conference. I can read committee reports to learn about the depth and breadth of involvement of the membership in the life of the organization. I can observe who is willing to serve in leadership roles through the slate of officers we put forward.  And, I can even see how many of you actually vote!
However, when I step back from the organization and begin to contemplate the well-being of the overall field of community development, I am not sure I can even fully visualize what should be measured, let alone have any confidence that I can easily lay my hands on appropriate data that will provide conclusive answers, or even good insights. In an age where I can strap a device on my wrist that will tell me fairly objectively how my body is performing, I find this troubling. You see, no single organization that I know of has taken it upon themselves to provide a "State of the Profession" report.  
I can imagine having a community development "dash board" where the key indicators of well-being of the profession could be displayed both instantaneously and historically. If well-conceived and appropriately executed, such information could find a multitude of uses. Organizations like CDS could use it to make strategic decisions about how to best serve the profession.  Students and student mentors could use it to help guide professional development activities.  Service providers could use it to better design interventions or to target new audiences.  Thought leaders and academics could use it to help re-direct the profession if they thought it important to do so. I'm just touching the tip of the iceberg, but already I think many will agree with me that having such information would be quite helpful.
Some of these thoughts are coming to me because I've heard some from within my own professional setting as a Land Grant University Professor and Extension Specialist that CD Extension programs are growing in many regions of the country, but shrinking in other regions. In many states in the Southeast (mine included),  CD Extension programs are finding success in areas like local food system development where there are pretty strong ties to agricultural community and to the agriculture lobby --- within our administrators comfort zone. This is occurring while CD programs in other subject matter areas are seeing a diminishing role. The key thing is that we are bringing our knowledge and skills in community development into this domain. I am confident that many of you working in other professional settings are carrying on similar conversations about the future of the profession. 
Over the course of the next few years, CDS will be likely be collaborating with other organizations in new ways, especially with the conference. This should present opportunities for us to learn more about what the future of the profession holds in store for all of us. Perhaps we ought to even consider encouraging some of our CD thought leaders and academics --- both young and less young --- to take on the task of reflecting on the question of "community development as a profession?" and sharing the results of their thinking with all of us at a conference or through journal articles. In the meantime, I encourage all to plan to register for the conference this year in Lexington, Kentucky where we can gather and at least informally begin to assess the state of our profession.  By doing so, you will be contributing to the vitality of CDS as well as influencing, at least in some small way, the vitality of the larger profession.
Oh, Happy Spring!
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Moving Beyond the Silos in Community Development

By Chris Marko, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), Community Development Society (CDS) Vice President of Operations

“The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist on this small planet. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue.”

 - The Dalai Lama

As Community Developers we understand connections between programs, within communities, the environment. That is one of the fundamental reasons we call ourselves “community developers”. We do not focus on one issue, one program, and try to promote inclusive behavior to solve problems. Still, in our professions and lives we often face the challenge of limits, the need to exclude a particular issue from the dialogue or activity, the focus on a program deliverable for measurable outcomes. How do we balance the multiple values associated with community while maintaining focus on particular facets within community, our work, programs, and issues? CDS Principles of Good Practice can help overcome barriers within communities, programs, and issues to promote greater value in our work.

Listening to be inclusive is an important best practice that helps in community development work I work with small communities on water and wastewater projects. Rural communities often have limited staff, knowledge of programs, funding, and capacity to take on projects. In small towns folks tend to be individualistic, and at the same time, cooperative. Life is at a different pace than larger cities and work involves conversations about many things. It is not common for me to spend a significant amount of time listening and talking about the on goings within the community, stories about certain individuals, what is going on at the state level, how rural communities are left out of the equation. Still, my overall purpose is to help with the water project, but there is much more to the community than just the water project. By embracing the conversation, I am able to build trust, better understand people in the community, what is going on, and how to approach my work.  In addition, I learn about other needs and opportunities to assist the community. Even if I do not have the expertise, I try to find information, resources, and people who might be able to help. This is also another important aspect of being a community developer.

Knowing your program, expertise, or “niche” is important in being an effective community developer. At the same time, knowing as much about other programs and resources is important in providing valuable service to communities. Communities do not operate in a vacuum. They are dynamic, changing, sometimes daily, and programs are becoming more complex. It is rare a project is funded under one source so as community developers we must broaden our understanding of what is available to help communities achieve their goals. A benefit to this involves helping a community to think creatively about how they develop a project. What are some additional benefits a project may have to the community beyond water? Impact on other values. The community capitals framework, as well as other approaches including WealthWorks, promotes an understanding of values: intellectual, social, individual, environmental, built, political, and financial (and cultural depending on the model). By viewing the community in more holistic manner one can consider the potential impact on multiple values, and leverage additional resources one might not have considered with an initial project.

Collaboration is key to moving beyond silos in community development. In recent years funding for programs were cut at the federal, state, and local levels. Many folks lost their jobs, and agencies and organizations were forced to retreat into silos for survival. Keeping current services going became a priority, and many services discontinued. Collaboration and long range thinking became less important than day to day internal operations for many organizations to ensure accountability with programs, deliverables, and specific outcomes related to individual programs to show value to funders. During tough times our tendency may be to retract, but collaboration and partnership building can also have the benefit of opening doors to opportunities. In our modern world of information technology, complexity, and social media, networking is becoming more of the norm. Networks offer opportunities for learning, relationship building, and connectedness essential for communities, and community development. Part of the challenge becomes sorting through which information is most useful, or relevant, to goals you are trying to achieve! As our world continues to evolve through technology and understanding of connectedness we can find a wealth of opportunity at our finger tips, and by collaborating with others who align with our interests.  In community development, that interest involves expanding horizons to support community with dynamic, connected, mutually supportive people. CDS continues to foster best practices involving open inclusive behavior, understanding connections between people, programs, and issues, and collaboration for quality communities.  

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