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  • Great Lakes Urban

20x the impact

If you want to make a difference, start with belonging.

There are people in every neighborhood and city working hard to make a difference in their community. People who advocate for causes, launch new nonprofits and businesses and share their vision of the world they want to be a part of. However, these difference-makers (which, if you're reading this, you probably are one too) can burn out when change is slow to come. With so many people working to solve issues such as political polarization, mental health issues, crime, and poverty, why aren't things different by now?

Many times in our efforts to make a difference, we provide services and tangible goods to others. But, we can forget another basic need that we all have-- belonging and community. These needs can be much harder to address as they aren't met by tangible items but by the slow building of trust, care, and reciprocity. And, when this process is done in a specific place, such as a neighborhood, we move from inviting one person to belonging to creating a culture of belonging.

And that is what has the power to make a real, lasting difference.

A culture of belonging is one where people are known and needed in their community. When this happens, people develop social bonds that increase trust, increase support, and reveal shared concerns and opportunities. This then becomes the foundation for collective action when there is a shared vision and network of relationships and people are confident in their ability to make a difference.

As Margaret Wheatley says, "Despite current ads and slogans, the world doesn't change one person at a time. It changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what's possible."

In our review of research, we can identify at least 20 areas where a culture of belonging creates real and tangible progress. A sense of belonging within a neighborhood promotes physical health, civic engagement, economic resilience, safety, and environmental stewardship. The graphic below provides a more comprehensive overview of the impact of belonging.

If you want to make a difference and are wondering why change isn't lasting, start with belonging. If you don't know where to start, we have plenty of resources to engage your neighbors and learn best practices. Or, better yet, talk to us about our CommunityWorks Framework to find out how to catalyze a culture of belonging across your city.

Making a difference starts with belonging. Start today to discover the power of belonging in your community.

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