The Subjective Side of Economic Development

We recently had an opportunity to present the Civic Condition Assessment at an event in east Arkansas. This is the tool that delves into the very personal, nebulous, subjective nature of how people work with one another, and how that civic exchange serves to enhance or deter community progress.

We developed what we sometimes refer to as the Community Motivation Personality Test or even the Mayor’s Crystal Ball. That is, what is the quality and intent of the civic dialogue in a community?

For me personally, being an objective, numbers kind of guy, I am always wondering “am I even making sense?” or “can people relate to these odd questions?”

Once again, much to my relief, all of this really connects. In fact, it did in a very tangible way. An impromptu conversation after the presentation and “test” ensued between leaders of West Memphis and Jonesboro. Jonesboro self-scored themselves as an Alliance Stage Community while West Memphis leaders agreed that they were at the Argumentative Stage. One West Memphis leader lamented: “I remember 40 years ago when our towns had the same population and the same promise. But Jonesboro has grown and prospered while we are stagnant and fight over the very same issues we did in the 1970s.”

Civic Condition: the reason why communities of similar capacity and assets can take such different paths. It is nice to see the Civic Condition Assessment make sense. Now we at Building Communities want to have this tool also make the difference. Our goal is to make more of this tool as a positive force for good in our future work.