Sunday, October 14, 2007

Successful Revitalization Follows Consistent Application of Principles

Kings Forest can draw guidance in its revitalization efforts from the many success stories across the nation for similar community-based, grassroots revitalization efforts.

A nationally recognized program is the National Main Street Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Its philosophy and Eight Guiding Principles have been successfully applied in communities of all sizes, both rural and urban, especially where change is incremental due to budgetary and other constraints. The program stresses the importance of careful attention to every aspect of revitalization in “a process that takes time and requires leadership and local capacity building.”

Eight Principles of Success

Comprehensive: No single focus or “quick fixes” can revitalize the community. For successful, sustainable, long-term revitalization, a comprehensive approach is essential.
Incremental: Baby steps come before walking. Successful revitalization programs begin with basic, simple activities that demonstrate that new things are happening. As confidence in the program grows and participants' understanding of the revitalization process becomes more sophisticated, the community is able to tackle increasingly complex problems and more ambitious projects. This incremental change leads to much longer-lasting and dramatic positive change.
Self-help: No one else will save your community. Local leaders must have the will and desire to mobilize local resources and talent. That means convincing residents of the rewards they'll reap and demonstrating their involvement and commitment to the revitalization effort.
Partnerships: Every local governing entity or association has a vital interest in the community and must work together to achieve common goals.
Identifying and capitalizing on existing assets: Communities must capitalize on the assets that make them unique.
Quality: The community should emphasize quality in every aspect of the revitalization program. Shoestring budgets and "cut and paste" efforts reinforce a negative image. Concentrate on quality projects over quantity.
Change: A carefully planned revitalization program will help shift resident perceptions and practices to support and sustain the revitalization process. Support for change will build as the the program grows and consistently meets its goals.
Implementation: The community must show visible results that can only come from completing projects. Small projects at the beginning pave the way for larger ones as the revitalization effort matures, and creates confidence and ever-greater levels of participation.