How a City Solicitor Builds Community and a Neighborhood Economy

Most of our focus on abundant communities is about what citizens can do to create stronger neighborhood connections and work on projects together or about how citizens are taking back into their own hands what the years of outsourcing and privatization has moved out of the neighborhood. We have leaned away from giving attention to systems and those who manage them. We recognize that systems and their leaders are essential to community, but we are often more attuned to the limits of what they can achieve, rather than the transformation they can catalyze.

This conversation gives some balance in talking with a super-involved city senior executive, Paula Boggs Muething. She is Solicitor of the City of Cincinnati, which means she is on the Mayor’s Cabinet, serves as a close advisor and runs the legal team for the city. Paula was formerly in charge of legal matters for the Regional Port Authority, a major investor in revitalizing vulnerable neighborhoods.

John, Peter and Paula talk about how to create economic vitality in poor neighborhoods. One focus will be what Peter and Paula call the Friends and Family small business loan fund, a way of creating access to capital for individuals who want to create place-based or neighborhood businesses but don’t have the connections or opportunities to do so through a network of family and friends or traditional sources of capital.

Running time (with Q&A) 00:52:16

Listen to the conversation below:

About the Lead Author

John McKnight
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development.

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