Community Heart & Soul | Revitalizing Small US Cities and Towns

Web Name: Community Heart & Soul | Revitalizing Small US Cities and Towns






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Every town has a heart and soul that reflects what residents love about their community and why they choose to live there.

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Hi, it’s Lyman Orton, founder of Community Heart & Soul. Our free Intro Book will help you quickly grasp Community Heart & Soul.


What is Community Heart & Soul?

Community Heart & Soul is a resident-driven process that engages the entire population of a town in identifying what they love most about their community, what future they want for it, and how to achieve it.

Developed and field-tested over a decade in partnership with over 100 small cities and towns across America, Community Heart & Soul is a proven process for engaging a community in shaping its future.

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How it Works

Community Heart & Soul is an ongoing practice that provides municipal officials with a clear understanding of what matters most to their constituents–all the residents–and forges a partnership that builds on the first thing everyone has in common: they all live here. It’s not a report that sits on a shelf; it’s a way of coming together to make your town a better place to live in and visit.

Community Heart & Soul begins with a four-phase, step-by-step process that brings residents together to identify and honor the unique character of their town and the emotional connection of the people who live there.

“The Community Heart & Soul model has been the perfect fit for my organization as we work to strengthen rural Iowa communities. I’ve learned so much about community engagement, helping emerging leaders, and developing authentic relationships with people in our small towns.”

— Jason Neises, Certified Coach Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque

Phase 1: Imagine

Heart & Soul teams are formed to build awareness, interest, and commitment in all segments of the community.

Phase 2: Connect

Stories are gathered from residents, leading to the development of Heart & Soul Statements that identify what matters most and reflect what they love about their towns.

Phase 3: Plan

Residents develop action plans to guide future town planning based on their Heart & Soul Statements.

Phase 4: Act

Heart & Soul Statements are officially adopted by town and city councils, incorporated into comprehensive and other plans, and are used to guide future policies and decisions.

The real work of Community Heart & Soul gets underway upon completion of the 4 phases. That’s when Heart & Soul teams put into action the plans they developed based on their Heart & Soul Statements.

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Latest News

Reflections on Community Heart & Soul from Founder, Lyman Orton

Hear from Lyman Orton, founder, as he reflects on his history and the origins and process of Community Heart & Soul.

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Finding the Heart & Soul of Biddeford

Read about the award-winning revitalization in Community Heart & Soul town Biddeford, Maine by Jeff Siegler, founder of Revitalize, or Die. and founding partner of Proud Places.

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NEW! Resources for Writing Grants

Our new suite of resources will help you identify funding sources, respond to common questions on grant applications, and connect your funding request to Community Heart & Soul.

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Learn our history and mission from Community Heart & Soul founder, Lyman Orton, proprietor of The Vermont Country Store.

Featured Town Profile

Thomaston-Upson Heart & Soul

Upson County is about 90 minutes southeast of Atlanta and is the first Heart & Soul community in the state of Georgia. The county seat is Thomaston, which serves as a hub for the area. The Thomaston-Upson County School District serves the entire county. Georgia EMC provided coaching services on behalf of the local electric cooperative Upson EMC. Both city and county government and local organizations, supported Thomaston-Upson’s Community Heart & Soul initiative. The Project Coordinator retained her office at the County Clerk’s office, which reinforced the collaboration that was essential for this countywide effort.

Thomaston-Upson Heart & Soul, Georgia

Commendation from state legislature

with a resolution designating Thomaston-UpsonCommunity Heart & Soul Day at the State Capitol.

Thomaston Chamber of Commerce

recognized the Heart & Soul team with a “Unity inCommunity” Award (2018).

Community Heart & Soul Towns

From Downeast Maine to the Heartlands to the Pacific Northwest, towns and residents are making change in their communities. Click on the map to see where it’s happening and hear their stories. Let us give you a guided tour through the transformation with Community Heart & Soul.


(802) 495-0864info@communityheartandsoul.orgFor the Media

120 Graham Way, Suite 126
Shelburne, VT 05482
© 2022 Community Heart & Soul® is the focus of the Orton Family Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3).

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