Communities in Action

Storytelling is vital for social change, because stories help us replicate successes, learn from missteps, and innovate better solutions.

Active Living By Design (ALBD)’s Community Action Model is based on more than a dozen years of successful initiatives, lessons learned, and stories gathered from community leaders and funders. In the fall of 2015, we launched a project to learn more about the sustainability of community-led, place-based change by asking former ALBD-assisted grantees—who we affectionately call “ALBD alumni”—to share their stories with us. We are sharing some of those stories here as examples of how the Community Action Model can be used in a variety of community contexts. Over time, we will continue to add more to this collection as part of our organization’s commitment to lifting stories of locally-driven change. For more community stories, use the “Community Story” filter on our Resources page and explore our Blog.



Hamilton Co_OHHamilton County, OH

Since its launch in 2009, an initiative to make healthy living easier called WeTHRIVE! has grown into a “social movement” in Hamilton County, Ohio. What started with 50 people in three communities has expanded to more than 189,000 people throughout 19 communities. This still-growing movement is a result of sustainable thinking from the start.

Read the full story.



New Orleans, LANew Orleans_LA-01

New Orleans, LA, has spent the last decade recovering from Hurricane Katrina. In a city of close-knit neighborhoods, part of that recovery was the addition of over 100 miles of bike lanes around local schools. This success was driven by the KidsWalk Coalition and its commitment to strategic communication and a culture of learning.

Read the full story.



Flint_MI_2Flint, MI

In a city striving for revitalization, one key asset had been long neglected: an extensive park system. Partners in Flint, MI, set out to make parks a local priority again by building residents’ capacity through facilitative leadership.

Read the full story.




Rancho Cucamonga_CA-01Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Socioeconomic differences and health disparities bisect Rancho Cucamonga, CA into two communities with distinct needs. Healthy RC, a city–community partnership, is working to bridge that divide through authentic community engagement.

Read the full story.




Buffalo, NY

In 2003, high poverty rates and old infrastructure were affecting the health of residents in Buffalo, New York. A public–private initiative, led by Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., was launched to improve community health. Partnerships were born, community members were engaged, and sustainable impacts have since transformed the city.

Read the full story.



Jefferson County, AL

Starting in 2010, leaders in Jefferson County, Alabama faced a series of sobering financial and environmental challenges that impacted their ability to deliver essential services to the region’s most vulnerable residents. Despite these challenges, ongoing collaboration and a spirit of flexible persistence have enabled the county to scale and sustain healthy community change.

Read the full story.



Louisville, KY

Thanks to community engagement and a commitment to sustainable thinking, more neighborhoods in Louisville, KY now have safe and affordable housing, access to healthy food, and convenient places to walk, bike, and play. Leaders and residents alike are attuned to the impact that education, employment, housing, transportation, and related issues have on their health.

Read the full story.



Santa Ana, CA

An innovative partnership in Santa Ana, CA is restoring open space so that residents can live safer and more active lives. And by practicing community engagement, facilitative leadership, and sustainable thinking, partners there are working toward lasting change.

Read the full story.




Denver, CO

Intentional community engagement helped Denver, CO respond to the health needs of culturally diverse neighborhoods and make planning processes more resident-led.

Read the full story.