Community Building Toolkit


North Dakota communities are facing a variety of challenges. Many smaller communities are in need of resources to stimulate local prosperity and growth in order to reverse years of continual outmigration while western counties and larger metropolitan areas in North Dakota are challenged to support growing populations and to promote and sustain recent economic growth. Therefore, resources to encourage and support community building are valuable tools for North Dakota’s current economy.

There are many ways to define and describe a community. A community can be defined by a geographical area (e.g., geo-political boundaries, selected neighborhoods, retail trade areas, or in reference to specific settings like workplace, church, and school district). Community can also be defined by members sharing common interests and perspectives, members involved in joint action, or the interpersonal relationships of its members.

One of the primary research approaches in community building and development is that of the Community Capitals Framework (CCF), developed by sociologists Cornelia and Jan Flora at Iowa State University. According to their research, communities most successful in supporting sustainable community development and economic growth paid attention to seven types of community capital (i.e., natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial, and built). The capitals interact among each other in such a way that investments in one capital can lead to asset building in another. To further understand the Community Capitals Framework, please refer to our framework page.

What's happening

  • Social Capital:  Given the recent trends of increasing births and an in-migration of younger workers, North Dakota’s median age has decreased in the past couple years (37.0 in 2010 to 34.9 in 2013).  Despite this trend happening in several areas throughout the state, many communities in North Dakota will age significantly with the graying of the baby-boom generation.   By 2025, the number of North Dakotans ages 65 and older is expected to grow by more than 50% (as compared to the 2010 Census) and older adults is expected to comprise nearly one-fifth of our population.
  • Political Capital: Voter turnout in North Dakota has always been high relative to the nation, yet voter engagement in the state has been slipping.  In the last presidential election, 61 percent of eligible adults in the state voted compared to 58 percent nationwide.  In the 2008 election, voter turnout in our state was closer to 63 percent (compared to 62 percent nationwide).  The majority of communities in North Dakota also saw a decrease in voter turnout in 2012; 37 of 53 counties experienced a drop in voter turnout from 2008 to 2012.
  • Financial Capital: North Dakota has been enjoying a robust economy, characterized by a flourishing energy development sector, in addition to strong agriculture, real estate, and government sectors. Maintaining the high quality of life in any area – from housing to health to education – depends on a strong economy. And, in turn, the vitality of our economy hinges on our continued success in those areas as well. North Dakota has led the nation in economic growth for four of the past five years. North Dakota is also among the top states in the nation for job growth. Despite these areas of growth, many communities in our state are struggling. For instance, although the 2014 median household income in North Dakota was $59,029, there were five counties in the state with a median household income lower than $40,000. Certain rural areas and individuals living on Native American reservations typically have lower incomes and are significantly more likely to be affected by poverty.
  • Cultural Capital: North Dakota’s communities are becoming more racially diverse. The North Dakota population of color (i.e., non-white) experienced a 7 percent increase from 2013 to 2014 and a 34 percent increase from 2010 to 2014, which is by far the greatest percentage change of any state.

what's available

ND Compass offers a toolkit to help in the community building effort
According to the Community Capital Framework approach, sustainable development is seen as the balanced development of the seven community capitals. In order to identify and understand them, ND Compass provides a set of key measures grouped under the seven capitals. Within each capital, click on a key measure and choose "Breakdown" to see what specific indicators, geographies, and characteristics are available. To find more detailed information, including data sources, definitions, or qualifications, go to the "View" drop down menu found above each key measure graph and choose "Data & Notes." Links to additional data sources can be found on the left hand side under “More Measures.” Additional resources are available under “Ideas at Work” and the “Library.” The toolkit aims to help identify forms of capital in the community; understand how capital is invested at the present time and measure progress; educate the community; and lead communities in the right direction, so they are better equipped to form plans of action and intervention to assure continued support of community capitals in the future.

North Dakota Compass

North Dakota Compass

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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