Policies that Build Community

Submitted by Sherri Torjman on August 24, 2016 - 1:52am

Governments can’t do policy without communities and communities can’t do policy without governments. Policy helps shape the context of the community as well as the content of what it offers.  

Building community involves designing the context and spaces that enable community members to spend time together and participate as active members.  It is guided by principles related to clean and green places, mixed use, accessibility and engagement.

Governments can introduce public policies that:

  • challenge themselves to become the greenest communities in the world in both their direct actions and purchasing policies
  • introduce zoning that requires mixed use of neighbourhood/community space
  • require accessible design in all new construction and make available funds for retrofit of existing facilities
  • engage community members in co-constructing local policies that design for well-being.

The second component of building community involves caring about each other.  Governments currently support wide-ranging services focused on formal supports.  This paper talks about building community through equally important informal supports.  These include personal communities, circles of support, long dinner tables and community celebration.

Governments can introduce public policies that:

  • make available public space, such as libraries, community centres and schools, for the creation of personal communities
  • reconfigure the delivery of formal services toward the co-production and co-design of supports that actively engage community members in caring for each other
  • create long table initiatives that both build personal networks and provide affordable nutritious food
  • eliminate user fees for all community celebrations.

Through public policy, governments enable us to design for well-being and care about each other. 

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