A Better Way

A Story of Neighborhood Change



The McLaughlin Neighborhood in Muskegon, MI is using Asset Based Community Development approaches to transform their community.  

“It’s been about creating relationships, neighborhood to neighbor,” says Sarah Rinsema-Sybenga, Executive Director of Community enCompass, a Christian community development organization in downtown Muskegon.

There was not much social fabric to begin with, and in the words of the community’s youth employment program coordinator, “hopelessness was running rampant with little hope and direction.” The biggest poverty, Sarah says, is sometimes peoples’ gifts were not being called forth.

Through various initiatives over the years the McLaughlin Neighborhood has proved what happens when neighbors sit together and dream together and plan together. They’ve created good projects and good programs, to be sure — block parties, music festivals, art fairs, summer camps, building a neighborhood park with new playground, creating four community gardens and saving the local elementary school.

Most important of all, they’ve created good relationships.


Video posted by permission of Communities First Association. Browse the CFA video collection for more stories of grass-roots transformation.

About the Lead Author

Communities First Association
The Communities First Association is part of a national movement created to bring about holistic transformation at the grass-roots level. Communities First's goal is to help churches, organizations and individuals engage with their community, influencing it in ways that make life better for everyone here and now. The end goal of Communities First is to see communities respond and change in surprising and redemptive ways.

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