Why Does This Work Matter?

If you work to help make communities better, you probably ask yourself that.  At least once in a while.  Maybe more.

People who do this work – – city managers, urban planners, economic developers, nonprofit directors, community developers, government phone-answerers — do hard work.  Unbelievably hard work.  The hard work of trying to improve our places and our communities — the most complicated things that most of us encounter every day.

And they do it today in a world that often assumes that they are slackers, incompetent, foolish or worse.  And they do it today in communities where budgets get slashed over and over again, where funding sources offer less and demand more, and where the number of hours, people, brain cells that can be put to the work gets squeezed and squeezed and squeezed again.  And at the same time, the demands — the number, the complexity, the difficulty — go through the roof.

This book introduces you to the voices of 11 people who are doing this hard work.  In their own words, as clearly and honestly as they can put in writing, you’ll hear how they manage the frustrations of this work — how they deal with political realities, with shortcomings, with bureaucracy and discouragement.  And, maybe more importantly, you’ll hear what they draw on to summon the courage and the bravery to keep at it.

Some of these voices are practical, some are philosophical.  Some will touch your mind, others will grab your heart.  All of them are amazing, and all of the are beautiful.

More than anything, I hope you find in them a shot of encouragement — a little extra fire under your own determination to do the hard, and so important, work that you do.

I’ve said before that I’m in awe of people who keep fighting these fights, who soldier on against what sometimes looks like impossible odds, getting up every day and going back to the same battles.  I’m not sure I could do that myself.  But it has been a priviledge, and an honor, to share these voices with you.

Thanks for reading.  And thanks for the great work you do.


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