Love Your Town

DowntownNorthfield.jpgIn yesterday’s Star Tribune, there was an article titled “Love your city? It might love you back“. The piece suggested that well-loved cities are more economically successful.

A three-year study of more than two dozen cities has found that there is a relationship between civic pride and economic growth. Paula Ellis of the Knight Foundation, the group funding the study says, “This is a new way of looking at how engaged residents create successful communities”.

For the Minnesota cities studied, the findings indicate that a city’s offerings for social life, how welcoming residents were to others, education and community aesthetics were the qualities that most inspired loyalty and passion. There’s a significant correlation between this loyalty and passion and the gross domestic product growth over the past five years in each of the 26 cities studied.

A vibrant social life, welcoming environment, quality education, and community aesthetics…could this be the conceptually elusive “sense of place”?


  1. David Ludescher said:

    Ross: The article also suggests that it may be economic success that makes the city well-loved, and not well-loved that makes it an economic success.

    November 28, 2008
  2. Mary Rossing said:

    Let’s do both!!
    Come on downtown this weekend and do some shopping then take in some entertainment at one of our local food/beverage establishments. By the way, if you bring a donation for the food shelf down to 1st National Bank today (Friday) then you get a coupon for discounts at many retailers all day! Share the love.

    November 28, 2008
  3. Rob Hardy said:

    The results of the study can be found here (as a .pdf file). There was a correlation between the economy and citizen engagement, but “social offerings,” “aesthetics,” “openness,” “education,” “basic services,” and “leadership” were more important. Of course, how can one have those things without a thriving economy? As the Mayor-elect suggests (“let’s do both!”), these things are interrelated.

    November 28, 2008
  4. Dean Kjerland said:

    There is an interesting article in the Nov 20th issue of Science which sheds light on another aspect of ‘community aesthetics’. Make it a point to walk the line on the west side from the 4th St Bridge to the footbridge path at various time of day (don’t forget late night) and compare the variations over here with a typical block on Division St. Below is the summary and link to the article. You may stop by my place to read the full article since getting it on line requires a subscription.

    Science 21 November 2008:
    Vol. 322. no. 5905, p. 1175
    DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5905.1175a

    News of the Week
    Study Shows How Degraded Surroundings Can Degrade Behavior
    Constance Holden

    In a series of cleverly designed experiments reported in a paper published online by Science this week, researchers found that if people see one norm or rule being violated (such as graffiti or a vehicle parked illegally), they’re more likely to violate others–such as littering, or even stealing.

    Read the Full Text In Science Magazine:

    The Spreading of Disorder
    Kees Keizer, Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg (20 November 2008)
    Science [DOI: 10.1126/science.1161405]

    November 28, 2008
  5. Pat Allen said:

    The economic benefits of community involvement, aesthetics, and social connections have been intuitively felt by many of us for a long time. I am happy to see research that finds a correlation between the two. As we wait for confirmation of the causal relationship between economic development and citizen engagement, we can all become involved in our local America in Bloom effort in Northfield. Check out the website at for more information and contact me (AIB Chair) at if you are interested in joining in one or more of our efforts — graffiti clean up, floral displays and landscaping, depot preservation, enhancing our urban forest, and beautification of the community year round.

    December 3, 2008

Leave a Reply