Got Love For Your Community?

Sunapee News often writes about community. Now it’s your turn! We invite you to share your ideas about the things that contribute to your sense of community. A Gallup-Knight Foundation study, described below, discovered unexpected factors that cause people to love where they live. It also suggests new approaches to improving communities.

A three-year Gallup study of 26 U.S. cities has found that peoples’ love and passion for their community may be a leading indicator for local economic growth. Surprisingly, social offerings, openness and beauty are far more important than peoples’ perceptions of the economy, jobs or basic services in creating a lasting emotional bond between people and their community.

The 26 cities in the survey with the highest levels of resident love and passion for their community, or resident attachment, also had the highest rates of GDP growth over time.

“This study is important because its findings about emotional attachment to place point to a new perspective that we encourage leaders to consider; it is especially valuable as we aim to strengthen our communities during this tough economic time,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

Despite declines in the economy since the study was begun in 2008, the researchers found some surprising constants:

  • The things that create the greatest emotional connection between people and their community – social offerings, openness and aesthetics – have remained stable for three years.  These three things reliably rated highest among 10 drivers of resident attachment, which also included: civic involvement, social capital, education, perception of the local economy, leadership, safety, emotional well-being and basic services.
  • The link between local GDP and residents’ emotional bonds to a place has remained steady despite declines in the economy over the three years of the study.  Communities with residents who are more attached to a place show stronger growth even in tough economic times.
  • People’s perception of their community’s performance in social offerings, openness and beauty has a greater impact on their emotional bonds to a place than their demographic characteristics.
  • Perception of the local economy is not a leading reason residents create an emotional bond to a place.

For complete survey findings, visit www.soulofthecommunity.org.

Knight Soul of the Community is on Twitter (#SOTC) and Facebook (facebook.com/soulofthecommunity).

Sunapee News welcomes your comments.

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