Welcome All to the Community

Each person is welcomed to the community, feels connected, and is able to exercise and influence power in decision-making.

In order for communities to achieve their full potential, each and every person must be invested in community success and consider themselves represented in decision-making for the community. For that to happen, all residents must feel welcomed, connected, and valued as members of the community. Moreover, they must be logistically able to contribute to relevant decision-making and action processes in their community. 

This requires that the community consistently identifies and addresses impediments to participation, including transportation, education, health, and timing, among others – and that it removes any discriminatory barriers to participation based on personal characteristics such as socio-economic class, gender, identity, race, country of origin, religion, or place of residence.

Building Block Evidence

Evidence suggests this building block is important because feelings of belonging in a community are associated with individuals’ physical and mental health.1,2,3 Having local social connections can support people’s sense of belonging4, and research suggests that people with meaningful social connections are happier, have fewer health problems, have less depression, and live longer.5

Feeling a sense of community can predict individuals’ community participation, including volunteering, donating to community organizations, and participating in associations—as well as their reported overall life satisfaction.6 The positive effects appear to be true among people who emigrated to a community6 and people born in the local area,3 including in rural communities. People living in rural communities may have a stronger sense of belonging, possibly related to knowing and trusting their neighbors.7

Creating socially connected communities includes investing in “meaningful community engagement”.8 Creating and participating in a range of “inclusive and welcoming solutions” can foster a sense of belonging and support broader engagement in collaborative efforts.8 Such solutions include creating inclusive public spaces; prioritizing people in transportation systems; constructing affordable housing and spaces for gathering and zoning to encourage diversity; shifting power to community members, elevating cultural practices, communicating creatively, and creating universal broadband access; and making social connectedness a community norm through use of frameworks, trauma- and resilience-informed practices, and declaring community values.9

  1. Holt-Lunstad 2010
  2. Michalski 2020
  3. Kitchen 2015
  4. Schellenberg 2017
  5. Holt-Lunstad 2010 in RWJF-Social Isolation 2019
  6. Ramos 2017
  7. Turcotte 2005
  8. MN Compass-Chase 2018 in HPBD-Wilkerson 2021
  9. HPBD-Wilkerson 2021

Curated Resources

Queer youth in celebratory gathering
Rural and Native Celebrations of the LGBTQ+ Community

A collection of rural, queer organizations and stories about rural communities and Native nations celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Explore these moments to learn more about how queer people are celebrated in rural spaces. 

Case Study
Practitioners with name tags sharing to a group off camera
Communicating for Connection: West Virginia Community Development Hub

This short case study has insights and tips on how rural development practitioners can move beyond neutrality and still communicate effectively with community members from across the political spectrum.

Young adult being welcomed home with hugs and excitement
Ensuring Rural Communities Welcome Everyone

Resources and best practices to ensure that each and every person is welcomed to the community, feels connected, and is able to exercise and influence power in community decision-making.

Building Trust with Immigrant Families Report Cover
Building Trust with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

Trust between social service organizations and their clients is crucial to effectively provide services to immigrant and refugee families. Our…

family sitting together smiling
Building Trust with Immigrant Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

Aug. 12th, 2021, 2PM

Learn how community-based non-profits can develop deeper relationships with their immigrant family clients, how school systems can provide safe spaces to develop stronger relationships among parents, children and teachers, and how home visiting programs can increase participation by hiring and retaining staff that immigrant families trust.

Massive American flag being held up at immigration reform demonstration
Working with Immigrant Families Regardless of Legal Status: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Practices

Sep. 16th, 2021, 2PM

Download the event presentation here: 2GI W2 PPT FINAL During the second of our four-part Working Practices series speakers shared replicable, creative strategies…

Better Responses to Differing Immigration Statuses Report Cover
Better Responses to Differing Immigration Statuses: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

What does it take to deliver 2Gen services to families, youth, and children whose various immigrant statuses may dictate different…

Cultural Competence Secrets to Success with Immigrant Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

Nov. 10th, 2021, 2PM

Developing cultural competence is important for everyone, but it is especially vital for providers and collaborations who work with immigrant…

Cultural Competency Secrets to Success Report Cover
Cultural Competency Secrets to Success with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

The cultural shift for immigrant and refugee families can be welcomed for some and terrifying for others, but what are…

Student taking notes
Growing Language Skills with Immigrant Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

Oct. 14th, 2021, 2PM

Whether it is written or spoken, language and dialect differences are a potential barrier to providing quality 2Gen programs to immigrant families, as well as successfully connecting them to employment, housing, education and other opportunities.

Growing Language Skills Report Cover
Growing Language Skills with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices

What can be done to help immigrant families with the language barrier as they work on improving their language skills?…

Field Items

Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – Office of Rural Prosperity

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity was created by Governor Evers’ Executive Order #65 to tap local perspectives on long-term, recent and future economic challenges facing the people, communities and businesses that make rural Wisconsin shine—and to turn ideas into action that increases economic activity and improves the quality of life for future generations.

Drawing of rural home with open door
Welcoming & Belonging In Rural Communities

What steps can rural communities take to cultivate a sense of belonging, especially for immigrants? With this podcast, explore tried and true community-based strategies that bring residents together to build connections, share stories, and uplift shared values.

Grade-school age child putting up encouraging notes outside on bulletin board
Community Heart and Soul

Community Heart & Soul is a resident-driven process that engages the entire population of a town in identifying what they love most about their community, what future they want for it, and how to achieve it.

Farm machinery harvesting crops
Rural Welcoming Initiative

Resources to create welcoming policies and new approaches to inclusion to create an environment where rural people can truly thrive.

Ananya Chatterjea, a woman of color, Marcus Young, man of color, headshots
Building Belonging

This Arts Midwest piece examines what it means to be a welcoming organization and how can arts leaders be more inclusive hosts who foster belonging.

Inspiring change: Reflections on welcoming newcomers into rural communities in Australia and the United States

Reflections from the Rural Welcoming Communities Exchange (RWCE) program.

Community members dancing in street with "Healthy Places by Design" text overlayed
Socially Connected Communities

Report from Healthy Places by Design on solutions for social isolation.

Speaker talking to event in virtual attendence
Building Inclusive Communities

Recorded event from Rural Assembly Everywhere and Welcoming Communities.

Everywhere Radio with Whitney Kimball Coe logo
Everywhere Radio

Podcast series from Rural Assembly asking rural leaders why they do what they do and how they keep going in the face of conflict.

We see the framework as a living document, which necessarily must evolve over time, and we seek to expand the collective ownership of the Thrive Rural Framework among rural equity, opportunity, health, and prosperity ecosystem actors. Please share your insights with us about things the framework is missing or ways it should change.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group