Readiness for Change

The most vibrant and successful communities are those that prepare for and embrace change by engaging its citizens in efforts to improve their quality of life.  This process is challenging, but can be greatly rewarding.  

The resources below represent both theoretical findings and practical solutions to assess a community’s readiness for implementing change. 

Resources marked with an * are recommended as a starting point.  

For more information contact Lisa Garner, member of the Community Readiness for Change Knowledge Group.  


Title Summary
Seven Key Tenets for Community Change* 
Community Readiness for Change Knowledge Group, Ball State University
Brief description of the key tenets that are intrinsic to implementing positive change in a community.  
Community Readiness: A Handbook for Successful Change*
Barbara A. Plested, Ruth W. Edwards, & Pamela Jumper-Thurman
This handbook defines readiness for change, provides seven steps for implementing an effective assessment, and identifies nine stages of readiness to proceed.  This guide is accessed by registering at the link provided. 
A Guide to Neighborhood Placemaking in Chicago*
Project for Public Spaces and the Metropolitan Planning Council
Eleven principles of placemaking are examined in the context of quality of place, based on the readiness of people in the community for change.  Included in this site is a seventy-six page guide detailing how to create vibrant public spaces.
Project for Public Spaces|Placemaking for Communities*
Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit organization committed to transforming public spaces in ways that "highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs."  This organization has finished projects in 2,500 communities around the world.  A wealth of practical information is provided on the web site.  
Big Car*  
Cultural organization whose purpose is to "perpetuate creativity, invigorate public places, and support better neighborhoods." Big Car is headquartered in Indianapolis. 
The Community Builder's Approach to Theory of Change: A Practical Guide to Theory Development
Andrea A. Anderson
This guide provides useful tools to identify and increase citizens' understanding of what change in communities means and does not mean.  
Building an Active Citizenry: The Role of Neighborhood Problems, Readiness, and Capacity for Change
Pennie G. Foster-Fishman, Daniel Cantillon, Steven J. Pierce & Laurie A. Egeren
The authors explore and measure individual and collective readiness for action regarding various neighborhood conditions by addressing the "capacity and readiness for what and where." 
Readiness For Change
Caitlin Howley
Examination of the relationship between readiness for change, the engagement of people and groups in the process, and factors that predict the success of ensuing change. 
Community Conversation Guide
The National Center for Media Engagement
This basic but effective guide can be used in communities to identify residents', organizations' and other sectors' concerns for future well-being through specific steps to planning and facilitating an effective "Community Conversation."   
Pathways for CHANGE: 6 Theories about How Policy Change Happens
Sarah Stachowiak
The author shares six theories of change focusing on advocacy and policy change efforts that can alter the status quo. 
The Community Readiness Survey: Development and Initial Validation
Timothy J. Beebe, Patricia A. Harrison, Anu Sharma, & Scott Hedger                       
Although this article centers on substance abuse in communities, there are several important aspects of assessing whether a community is ready for change that can be transferred to the spheres of community and economic development. 
Community-based Participatory Research: Necessary Next Steps
Zubaid Faridi, Jo Anne Grunbaum, Barbara Sajor Gray, Adele Franks, & Eduardo Simoes
This article defines community-based participatory research, explores various characteristics, and lays out the competencies required to perform this type of research. It points out the differences between academic research and participatory research, where outcomes are subtle and where readily implementable in the community. 
The Future of Community Coalition Building
Thomas Wolff
Although focused on health change, the premise of this article is applicable to community and economic development. A community's readiness for change is in large part determined by the engagement of its citizens in identifying issues and assets, and articulating a vision and purpose. 
Putting the System Back into Systems Change: A Framework for Understanding and Changing Organizational and Community Systems
Pennie G. Foster-Fishman, Branda Nowell, & Huilan Yang
This is a lengthy original paper on changing the status quo of organizational or community systems.  The authors analyze systems and their potential readiness for change, as well as impediments to change. 
Renewing Economically Distressed American Communities
Michael Greenstone & Adam Looney
Using Buffalo, NY as an example, this analysis looks at how a community hard hit by the recent recession can assess its situation, plan, and prepare for the change needed to rebuild its economy 
Voices From The Field III:  Lessons and Challenges from Two Decades of Community Change Efforts
Anne C. Kubisch, Patricia Auspos, Prudence Brown, & Tom Dewar
The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change discusses how to apply research findings through key elements such as a clear mission, good management, effective partnerships, and results accountability within constantly changing communities. 
Smallis Beautiful: Eight Things To Know in 2013*
Matthew W. Ashby
Eight practical suggestions for aiding local communities in escaping political gridlock and economic problems.  
The Urbanophile
Aaron M. Renn
This blog focuses on helping cities find "sustainable success in the 21st century."  The site provides a clearinghouse of articles on city building and accompanying problems. 
Connecting Rural Communities, Community Readiness Assessment
Southern Rural
Development Center
This two-page survey is designed to identify and assess key stakeholders, leaders, and collaborations that will help gauge a community's readiness to proceed with change. 
Park Rapids Community Readiness Survey:  What is Community Readiness and How is Park Rapids Doing?  
Progress Park Rapids
This five-page survey can be adapted to assess a community’s ability to build coalitions, address strengths and weaknesses and gauge the overall outlook of residents. 
Creative Community Planning:  Transformative Engagement Methods for Working at the Edge
Wendy Sarkissian, Dianna Hurford, & Christine Wenman
The authors suggest innovative methods and practices to engage community members in meaningful community change. 
Community Change:  Theories, Practices, and Evidence
Karen Fulbright-Anderson, Patricia Auspos, & editors 
This lengthy work contains literature reviews of "place-based, community change efforts." Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of community change and the results of various community engagement theories. 
Community Change Initiatives from 1990-2010: Accomplishments and Implications for Future Work
Anne C. Kubisch, Patricia Auspos, Prudence Brown, & Thomas Dewar
Summary of key factors that influence successful "place-based investing" in community development work. Best practices and lessons learned are applicable to communities embarking on community change efforts. 
Community Problem Solving: Strategy for a Changing World
Xavier de Souza Briggs
The author analyzes the applicability, use, and effectiveness of negotiation as a community problem solving tool. Other strategy tools, such as organizing, planning, implementing, and learning, are discussed on the author's website. 
Renewing People And Places:  Institutional Investment Policies that Enhance Social Capital And Improve the Built Environment of Distressed Communities
Rex L. LaMore, Terry Link, & Twyla Blackmond
The authors focus on the importance of community-based sustainable development "that combines a place-based development strategy, a human focus, and an environmentally mindful approach." The role of higher education as an investor in the community is analyzed. 
Toolkit for Capacity Development
European Union
Tools include focus on drivers of change, change processes and change management, the role of a vision, and use of checklists and matrixes for assessing readiness to proceed and planning.  The wealth of information in this toolkit is transferrable to any community. 
Bowling Alone:  The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Robert D. Putnam
Why has social capital in communities waned?  How can this "civic decay" be reversed? Engaging people results in a connectedness that fosters readiness to proceed with change necessary to revive their communities.  
Caught In The Middle:  America's Heartland In The Age of Globalism
Richard C. Longworth
Communities need to prepare for the change required to address their economic and social challenges.  This somewhat controversial book, written in 2008, is a wake-up call to communities. 
The American Midwest:  Managing Change in Rural Transition
Norman Walzer, Ed.
A compilation of works by leading authorities in the areas of community and economic development, economics, sociology, and policymaking that analyzes the changes wrought on the Midwest by a changing economy.
Honoring the Differences:  Using Community Readiness to Create Culturally Valid Community Interventions
Pamela Jumper-Thurman, Ruth W. Edwards, Barbara A. Plested, & Eugene Oetting
The authors discuss community readiness, stages of community readiness, defining community, and assessing community readiness as key elements in understanding what a community is and how it relates to its citizens. While focused on ethnic and racial differences in communities, the premises apply to readiness for change in all communities. 
Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets, (Introduction)
John P. Kretzmann & John L. McKnight
This introduction focuses on community capacity building to address change through an "asset-based, internally focused, relationship driven" approach to community development.
The Change Management Toolbook
Holger Nauheimer
This lengthy book offers a collection of tools, methods and strategies to manage the human side of change processes in order to achieve effective change.
Theory of Change Basics:  A Primer on Theory of Change
Dana H. Taplin, Ph.D. & Heléne Clark, Ph.D.
This guide provides a step-by-step process to help stakeholders identify long-term goals and define outcomes.  

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Dr. Joseph A Losco 

Dr. Joseph A. Losco

Knowledge Group Fellow
Co-Director, Bowen Center for Public Affairs and Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science
Sara K. Wilhoite-Mathews

Sara K. Wilhoite-Mathews

Information Services Librarian
University Libraries
Sharon Canaday

Sharon Canaday

Project Manager
Building Better Communities
Lisa Garner

Lisa Garner

Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President
Building Better Communities

Building Better Communities
Carmichael Hall (CA), room 104
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana 47306

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