Place matters. Places are blocks, they are neighborhoods, they are ecosystems. They are the environments in which we live, and they require holistic, creative approaches to keep them healthy and thriving.
Members of the NeighborWorks network focus on place in many different ways. In some cases, they are out to improve entire “ecosystems”—like an area’s food-related culture. NeighborWorks Umpqua is particularly holistic, with initiatives ranging from a project to encourage backyard gardens to a coalition supporting the local seafood industry. Business and Community Lenders of Texas is taking a different tack, taking aim at its city’s high obesity rate through an olive oil-bottling plant, farmers market and farm-to-table eatery.
Other members are concentrating on entire cities or sections of cities hit by crises. For Southwest Solutions, it’s southwest Detroit—the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy. For Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society, it’s Camden, New Jersey—with a reputation for crime and poverty. For Better Family Life, its Ferguson and surrounding Missouri towns, in the news for strife between African-American residents and police. Each organization is working with residents, businesses and others to rebuild, engage and heal.