What does it take to create a community of belonging? In late 2021 Carver County launched the Communities of Belonging initiative in eight area communities to begin asking and answering that question. This became a priority for the county after identifying belonging and well-being in the community health improvement plan (CHIP). Participating communities were invited to explore and implement strategies to improve the sense of belonging for everyone in their community.
The Carver County approach is unique in several ways. The county made at firm commitment to support the participating communities for at least three years and is equally respecting the direction and pace of community leadership development. Carver has built buy-in for this process among county leadership and elected officials by making it clear how belonging impacts, and is impacted by, a range of community factors from health, well-being, active living, climate change to economic development. At least three county commissioners, along with three local city council members, have participated in this work to date. The eight communities have approached the task in various ways: through outreach, assessment, development of a common language and framework, and even implementation of several tools. Communities are building their partnerships and at least one has implemented a resident survey about belonging. A county staff member has become a certified Living Room Conversations host, and more than 10 different conversations have been conducted. Learn more about how Carver is making 2022 about belonging, what is in store for the partners, and what challenges they are facing.
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