Building Communities from the Inside Out

John McKnight

Many major institutions and professions, viewing older urban neighborhoods from outside, see deficiencies, problems and needs. They create incentives that confirm their view and communicate their perceptions to the larger society. As a result, the gifts, capacities and assets of older neighborhoods are ignored at best and degraded at worst.

Our discussion focused on understanding the assets of an older urban neighborhood with special emphasis on associational life. In associations, local residents attempt to achieve their purposes in spite of the systematic institutional barriers. The history, topography and inventiveness of local associations was explored and the celebration of citizens enjoyed.


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