The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Feb 25, 2010

Helping community leaders understand what makes a place "home"

Posted by Knight Foundation

Last week, Knight Foundation representatives met with Philadelphia's mayor, Michael Nutter, and community leaders to discuss what drives peoples attachments to their community.

Phillies fans celebrate victory during a parade on Broad Street in downtown Philadelphia in November 2008. Creative Commons photo by Flickr member SnakeManRob.

Katherine Loflin, lead consultant for Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community, a three-year study with Gallup, presented an overview of the project and identified three community factors that emotionally attach residents to the Philadelphia area: (1)Openness and (2) social offerings, both of which need improvement to further encourage attachment to place, and (3) aesthetics, which is seen by residents of Philadelphia as a community strength.

These findings are not exclusive to Philadelphia. In the third year the study, these three factors are consistently emerging as being key to tying residents to place in all 26 communities that are a part of the study.

Communicating findings from Soul of the Community is crucial to helping local government and community leaders better understand why residents choose to make a particular place their home.

Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia, writes in his blog:

"I think this research can serve as a persuasive new public policy tool in helping decision-makers understand the role that arts and culture play in a community ..."

Loflin adds: "It's always very rewarding to share this information with community leadership and residents because their enthusiasm and interest in the findings continue to show us that we are on to something important here."

For more on Soul of the Community, please visit

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