In Missoula, at the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation we are trying to “think outside the box”. A lot of us in the community development field bat about the term “holistic, ” but trying to think and act holistically can be surprisingly difficult. Because it can be so elusive, this big picture perspective cannot be over emphasized. It is too easy to slip back into the flawed ethos of seeing communities in fragmented ways – the trees instead of the forest – our words limiting our ideas. Housing; economic development; health; recreation; transportation; nutrition; education; are some of the isolates of our social thinking. Many of us bemoan “degradation of the environment” or “loss of community” along with “the break down of the family” as causes of social malaise. We forget that humans must naturally interrelate (with each other and with our environment). And we do so, either functionally or dysfunctionally, not in textbooks or in commission reports, but on the ground, in our homes and in our neighborhoods. A healthy social dynamic seeks mutual compatibility and fulfillment – the same way that water seeks its own level.
As long as we are able, the NMCDC plans on trying to see a social “big picture” within the context of our own neighborhood setting. We want to make a better neighborhood, one in which families want to put down roots. We want to create opportunities for people of modest means to do that. Ours is an experiment based on interrelationships. We feel we must be about housing but need to, even more, find a way to be about more than just housing, or mitigation of poverty, or recreation, or parks and infrastructure development or historic or open space preservation or access to sound nutrition(as important as they all, individually, are). We want to be about all these and more. We want to encourage the synergies that healthy relationships generate. We want to see our neighborhoods revitalized as good homes for all of us.
Learn more about some of our current programs: