Sharon LegenzaNACEDA is the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations. We’re an alliance of 40 state and regional associations for community development in 25 states and the District of Columbia. NACEDA exists because its members believe in a strong, unified community development field that will lead to stronger, healthier, more prosperous communities for the people who live and work there.

But how do you unify a field with people representing different places, each of whom come to this work with their own histories, experiences, and opinions? For me, the way to do this is to provide the space and opportunity for people concerned about the communities we live in to share ideas, discuss challenges, identify problems and, when possible, agree to a common approach.

NACEDA already does this in many different ways, from its regional membership convenings to its larger summits. And therefore it’s natural that, when the Board of Directors commissioned a publication, the result is yet another platform for conversation. Talking Values: Soulful Conversations Within Community Economic Development provided a new space for conversation Its unique format of essays and responses (written or otherwise) is an entirely fitting way to commemorate NACEDA’s 10th Anniversary.
The essays you will read address five broad questions:
1. How can NACEDA members support organizing and community empowerment efforts by local community-based organizations?
2. How can our field achieve scale while maintaining accountability to local community?
3. How can community development relate to the broader goals of racial equity?

4. Does community development connote a specific mode of practice? And is the term “community development” still useful to audiences external to our field?
5. How will a new generation of leadership change our field?
As you will see, these questions garnered many different opinions and responses. And while these different opinions can sometimes be challenging, each voice is unique and authentic and energizing. The essays and responses contained here reflect who we are – or want to be – as a field of individuals and organizations committed to improving places and lives.

We hope you will find the content in Talking Values to be not only helpful and engaging, but also thought provoking and maybe even provocative. NACEDA intentionally sought to reflect the diverse opinions that exist within the community economic development field and to challenge ourselves to consider new ideas and voices.

That said, the diverse opinions reflected are a sampling. The release of this publication is the start of a conversation, not a definitive end. Like community development itself, NACEDA intends for Talking Values to evolve conceptually and spur further thought, which is why we have included a discussion guide to help us all engage peers and take a deeper dive into these key questions.

We greatly appreciate Cathy Niederberger and PNC Bank for their generous support of Talking Values. We also want to thank Harold Simon and Miriam Axel-Lute of Shelterforce Magazine for guiding content and format, and Joe McNeely, for serving as the publication chair.

Finally, thank you for joining us as we journey into the future, using these questions and responses as guideposts.

Sharon Legenza
Chair, NACEDA Board of Directors

This publication was made possible by the generous support of PNC Bank

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