Neighborhood Planning: Doing “With” Not “For”

It is often the habit of organizational professionals who interface with communities to do “to” or “for” local residents. However, when such staff step back from their traditional functions and shift their focus to supporting community members to decide and do what they think is most important, powerful new possibilities emerge that benefit both community members and the organization.

One story takes place among a community of residents living in subsidized housing in Oshawa, Ontario and the staff of the Durham Region Local Housing Corporation (DRLHC). A part of Tamarack Institute’s Cities Deepening Communities network, this case study demonstrates the upwelling of engagement, contribution, connection and care that can appear from within a neighborhood when neighbors are invited and supported to do for themselves.

Below, the group shares the benefits of their story and reflections on what it takes to start and continue this alternative way of working with and seeing the community members they serve.

Case Study: Building a Neighborhood Plan – Doing With Not For


Going Further

About the Lead Author

April Doner
April Doner
April Doner is a community connector, artist, and mother who is passionate about igniting the intersection between re-weaving neighbor relationships, strengthening local economies, and healing / reconciling inequities and injustices. She is a Steward at the ABCD Institute DePaul University and, while not practicing neighboring in her own neighborhood, she trains, coaches, and consults in Asset Based Community Development. April also documents local resilience as well as group processes through various creative means including writing, photography, video, and graphic recording. Since 2020, she has curated content for

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