In 2015, ArtPlace America created a“Community Development Matrix” to “lay out (a) sense of how the community planning and development world self-organizes.” This matrix, displayed to the right, is an excellent snapshot that shows the span of sectors that encompass the field of community development. It is broken down by sector on the vertical axis, and by influence/organization type on the horizontal axis. This is a much simpler way to understand what community development is. It can be any and all of these sectors working in concert to raise the standard of living for any given place.
There are a few important distinctions that can be pulled from this matrix. First, it shows the many different points of intersection that can make up the field, demonstrating that no specific set of sectors or set of organization types have sole ownership of community development. Each of these intersection points need to be at the table in conversations around comprehensive community development.
The matrix also clarifies that economic development is not in and of itself community development, it is instead one aspect of community development. Far too many economic development projects in Lexington are given the banner of community development, often to the detriment of community perceptions about the field as a whole. It is important to remember that while economic development and growth can be positive things, they are only one object in the overall picture.
Lastly, there are a few things that are clearly missing from the matrix. Two that immediately come to mind are social justice and arts & culture. Their omission from the matrix is intentional. These are not sectors of community development, but are lenses through which all of the work in the field should be seen. ArtPlace addresses this concept in a blog post discussing social justice’s omission from the matrix (it was actually removed from the Immigration sector):