Events of the new decade have encouraged democratic societies like ours to think more deeply about the kind of society we want to create and about how we can improve our efforts to do so. This issue focuses on some of the most interesting work being done in the American Communities Movement today, and contains articles by leading practitioners on the promise heralded by convergence in tools, values, and practices. It examines the ideas that emerged from a series of dialogues on community reform organized by the National Civic League and the Coalition for Healthier Cities and Communities. Chapters provide models from active programs in community-level reform from a variety of cities and municipalities. The obstacles and opportunities encountered in a community improvement project are viewed through the lens of the Jacksonville Community Council Inc and their experiences. A new model for human service delivery, developed by the Human Service Planning Alliance in Des Moines, demonstrates that well-time and well-targeted social investments produce significant positive returns.
It also provides a perspective on the ongoing debate over the changing role of government, the significance of the new public service, and the enduring importance of democratic values.