chapter  8
Building a public square: an analysis of community narratives
ByTimothy Steffensmeier
Pages 14

The passage above, written by steering committee members in a reflective narrative, displays a keen awareness of process. The practice of reflecting publicly on process, as compared to content, is a key feature of the community development model of Public Square Communities, LLC. In this paper, the ways community narratives function as important symbolic resources for developing community vision-a process of figuring out where a community wants to be-were explored. The emphasis here was on how narratives supplied communities with a language to develop innovative ideas and ways of behaving. This analysis of Public Square Communities development efforts was driven by the overarching question: How did language function in the invention of community visions? The analysis revealed that the public square process is changing the language and manner in which people engage community issues. Thus, it is argued that community development involves a process of inventing language and communication procedures that work to (re)build the human infrastructure of a community. A better understanding of the invention process can assist community development practitioners and scholars in conducting and evaluating visioning processes.