The Institute for People, Place, and Possibility (IP3)—the non-profit organization behind Community Commons—is celebrating 10 years of service! We’ve come a long way and are reflecting back on where we started and how we got to where we are today. At IP3, we do a lot of different work, but it all points toward one “true north” for our organization: creating healthy, equitable, sustainable communities that advance well-being now and for future generations, and this has remained true since IP3’s inception.
Community Commons was launched in 2011, stemming from collaboration between three main organizations: Community Initiatives, The Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems at the University of Missouri, and the newly-established IP3. The idea was to merge three pillars of work to support community change efforts:
Provide access to data & mapping tools to illuminate needs
Provide context to data through storytelling, and training
Provide on-the-ground community support through facilitation and convening.
Community Commons was first designed to bolster what was then a burgeoning movement of place-based, multi-sector efforts to improve the health and well-being of all people. The Commons provided community change-makers with free access to data and mapping tools, stories and resources to add context to data and make it actionable, and built capacity for transformative community change through deeper engagement, training, and technical assistance. Learn more about the Community Commons origin story here.
Above: the original Map of the Movement—a display of place-based community improvement efforts around the country—an effort to build a community-focused technology framework to support change-makers.
Although the core goals of IP3 and Community Commons remain the same today as they were in 2011, we’ve adapted our offerings and tools to “move with the movement”—to remain aligned with what communities need and with where the field is going—and partnership has always been at the core of that. What we find today is that tools and data are prolific—this is a huge improvement from a decade ago. What continues to lack is context and meaning for those data and tools that lead to seamless community action. The question 10 years ago was “what?” and we aimed to answer, “so what?” Today, we ask and answer, “now what?” to build capacity for transformative change through movement from community insight to community action.
IP3 now works with partners in a more expansive, collaborative way, from integrating and organizing content to advance shared learning, to doing deep dives to inform development of a comprehensive data strategy, to advising on technology integration into community change work, and more. (Learn more about what IP3 does here!) Now more than ever, our work is co-created with partners, which positions us to more effectively meet the needs of change-makers at every level.
As we celebrate ten years, we’re proud to reflect on how far we’ve come. Having gone through many iterations, Community Commons is a thriving resource for community change-makers to find stories, data, tools, and resources to drive their work forward. The Commons is built on its powerful back-end database we call the InfoHub, which provides a knowledge management system that can be leveraged by other networks aiming to organize and share resources and knowledge across a multitude of users.
Importantly, IP3 is uniquely positioned to advance community well-being because of our participation in many national neworks and large collaborative efforts to improve communities. IP3 sits at the nexus of national networks to advance equitable well-being now and for future generations through a holistic, systems approach that enables us to both learn from and contribute to experts in the field. Years of experience and stewardship of Community Commons enables us to share local successes nationally, and to build bridges connecting communities doing similar work around the nation.