There is a growing concern that the robust notions of community can sometimes be left out of collective impact discussions and implementation efforts; indeed, the very nature of community seems at times an afterthought, even sometimes an unwanted nuisance to be minimized. But collective impact efforts must be aligned and calibrated to the context of community – the “civic culture” – in which they are taking place.
This article will lay out five key characteristics of civic culture, explore why they matter, and how paying attention to them may be the difference between a collective impact effort getting stuck – even falling flat – or generating the kinds of results we seek. A collective impact approach holds enormous promise for bringing about meaningful change – but only if such action is taken with communities, not apart from them.
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