Our Guiding Principles

Dynamics of Difference. Community democracy is strongest when people are working constructively across differences. Racial and ethnic populations need to be represented in all aspects of community democracy, and so-called “hard to reach” residents must be included in the process.

Community Assets. Communities hold untapped assets, and the potential for successful strategies to create change exists in every community.

Community Commons. Clearly identifiable and accessible community commons are essential; democracy happens in places where people feel safe enough to venture across boundaries of difference. Healthy communities brimming with opportunities for people who live in them need opportunities for people to bond with one another and to many forms of democratic organizations and institutions.

Time and Convergence. Community democracy flourishes according to its own time frames; productive change requires that disparate but interconnected efforts align and that the time frames guiding them converge.

Essential Infrastructure. Community democracy needs reliable staging grounds; the availability of tools and supports determines to a large degree who can and cannot engage civically. Specific effort has to be made to build the power and capacity of so-called “hard to reach” residents. Specific effort also has to be made to acknowledge and address the degree to which race, class, gender, economic inequities, and other forms of social injustice impede progress.

Essential Knowledge. Everyone has knowledge and everyone can learn. Identifying and applying knowledge is an opportunity to build community power and capacity.