Community Heart & Soul

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Community Heart & Soul Project

Every town has a heart and soul that reflects what residents love about their community and why they choose to live there...
The City of Shawnee is embarking on a new Citizen engagement program called Community Heart & Soul. Community Heart & Soul (CH&S) is a resident-driven process that engages the entire population of a town in identifying what they love most about their community, what future they want for it, and how to achieve it. Developed and field-tested over a decade in partnership with more than 100 small cities and towns across America, CH&S is a proven process for engaging a community in shaping its future. CH&S is a “community and economic development process that engages residents in:
  • identifying what they love about their community
  • the future they want for their community
  • how to achieve it

Learn more about Community Heart & Soul

Check out the video below, and visit their website or YouTube channel. You can get a free copy of Community Heart & Soul's Intro Book here  to read up on how to create a stronger, healthier, and more vibrant City through this process.  

Additional recommended informational videos from CH&S: 

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Ways Community Heart & Soul Transforms Communities
Who developed this process, and who is helping implement the process in our community?
What does the process look like?
How do I get involved?
More information

Ways Community Heart & Soul Transforms Communities
Guiding Principals
  • Involve everyone
  • Focus on what matters most
  • Bottom up
  • Resident led
  • Play the long game
  • New Leaders and volunteers emerge.
  • Residents feel re-connected. Participation increases.
  • Trust is built.  Common ground and stronger bridges are found.
  • Downtowns are reenergized.
  • Pride is restored among our residents.
  • History and culture are honored. Our unique character is cultivated.
  • Our City government becomes
    • responsive, approachable, good at listening,
    • welcoming participation and involvement, and
    • fair to all parts of the City and accountable.
To read more about the ways that CH&S transforms communities, click here

Who developed this process, and who is helping implement the process in our community?
Developed by Lyman Orton, Community Heart & Soul is premised on the notion that all small cities and towns have a distinct Heart & Soul. It’s those elements that residents love about their town, the pride they feel, the sites they love and show visitors, the gathering places, and a way of doing business that rises above political ideologies and views residents as friends and neighbors who will work together -- and the process is led by all residents in partnership with their elected and appointed officials.

Suzan Perkins, a Community Heart & Soul representative based in Nowata, OK will be our primary advocate and coach. Ms. Perkins will help us reach Citizens "where they are" through tested interview approaches that help Citizens recognize our shared values and generate data-driven, bottom-up plans for community betterment.

What does the process look like?
The Community Heart & Soul process utilizes trusted messengers to discuss our community values and does so in locations where our Citizens already meet and come together.  Unlike more traditional planning models, Community Heart & Soul works to gather specifics on shared visions for our community from all aspects of our citizenry.  These results are documented, goals identified, and then projects completed by our Citizens and our City working together.

Step one is to start identifying our trusted messengers.  These are our diverse neighborhood leaders who have knowledge and friendships with their circle of influence.  The core of this process is peer-to-peer conversations. Ms. Perkins will host additional trainings and volunteer workshops. With Heart & Soul, cities and towns get their confidence back and when that happens people do amazing things and economic development emerges more from within. 

After an initial two years of learning, your community’s Heart & Soul becomes an ongoing practice for years to come. It does not sit on a shelf. There are a growing number of Heart & Soul communities and lines of exchange of ideas among them are being established.Most Heart & Soul communities say, "This was the greatest investment we ever made and it’s paying off with new energy, an amazing increase in the number of volunteers, more individuals running for office, and pride in rebuilding our own economy. The Result is Responsive Government."

CHS 600

How do I get involved?

Start connecting to Shawnee's Community Heart and Soul project by completing this simple form with your contact information. 

More Information
An introductory meeting was held April 4, 2023 at Gordon Cooper Technology Center's Public Safety Building.  View that presentation  here. 
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