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Heart and Soul—A Barn-Raising Approach to Community Wealth



People Taking Charge of Their Own Community

In This Episode:

[01:20] Jane LaFleur is introduced.

[01:28] Jane shares what interests her about community development and how she got involved in community-development work.

[02:30] Jane provides some of the economic challenges.

[03:33] Jane defines community wealth.

[04:13] Jane states what “a barn-raising approach to community wealth” means.

[06:06] Jane tells more about the Heart and Soul approach.

[07:31] Jane mentions how long she’s been doing the Heart and Soul approach.

[08:14] Jane gives a success story of the Heart and Soul approach.

[11:14] Mike discusses the problem of getting people engaged in their communities.

[11:41] Jane provides another success story of the Heart and Soul approach.

[13:26] Mike states his thoughts about the disconnect between government and the people.

[13:40] Jane informs that the Heart and Soul approach is about what communities can do for themselves.

[15:00] Mike shares his view of what governance is.

[15:48] Jane says how people can learn more about her work.

[16:04] Jane speaks about the inclusiveness of the Heart and Soul process.

[16:58] Mike clarifies which website to go to, depending on your state of residence.

[17:33] Jane discusses whether community wealth is an economic-development process.

[18:52] Mike mentions focusing on social capital.

[19:32] Jane conveys that social capital is a part of asset-based planning and that businesses are attracted to a community that knows what its values are.


Jane LaFleur is the Senior Program Director of Lift360, a state-wide organization that inspires leadership, builds stronger leaders, and equips those leaders to tackle the critical issues facing Maine. Lift360 works to strengthen leaders, organizations and communities through its work with cities and towns, non-profit organizations and community members. Jane served as the Executive Director of Friends of Midcoast Maine (FMM), a regional smart growth, planning and civic engagement organization for 13 years until joining Lift 360 in September 2016. She developed The Community Institute, a program of Friends of Midcoast Maine and has been named a coach and champion on the Orton Family Foundation Heart & Soul planning program. Jane grew up in Lewiston, Maine and has been a city and regional planner since 1981. Her work has received the Maine Associations of Planners Plan of the year award in Damariscotta, Maine and in South Burlington Vermont and in 2015 she was named The Professional Planner of the Year by both the Maine Association of Planners and the Northern New England Chapter of APA. Jane is a sought after lecturer and trainer on planning and civic engagement topics at the local level as well as at national and state conferences including NNECAPA, APA, New Partners for Smart Growth, Community Matters, and MAP Annual Meetings. She has recently published an article in the “Communities and Banking” magazine of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston as well as other publications. Jane graduated from the University of Maine and received her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University and lives within Camden, Maine.


Lift360 focuses on leadership every day – for individuals, in organizations, and throughout communities.Their mission is to inspire leadership, build stronger leaders, and to equip those leaders to tackle the critical issues faced in Maine. That focus takes them into communities and boardrooms, reaching all sectors and all areas of the state. They deliver programs and services working side by side with organizational and community leaders. The impact of their work and the stories they hear from those they collaborate with is an incredible reward. It’s their way to make Maine an even better place to live and work.

Take Away Quotes:

“I’m a city planner by training, and I’ve been involved with communities since about 1980, when I got out of graduate school, and I really started to care about how communities grow and change and help people take leadership positions in communities to make a difference…I love watching communities wrestle with tough decisions, and I love watching young people get engaged in communities, because we need more of that. We need new young people to take over our roles as we get older.”

“Community wealth is not necessarily cash, it’s not necessarily money; it’s all the things that make up your community, and it’s the assets in your community, it’s who’s living in your community, it’s the social fabric of the community, it’s whether you have engaged people, whether you have people making tough decisions and helping to grow that community.”

“The [Heart and Soul] approach is outlined on the Orton Family Foundation website, and with lots of free materials. It doesn’t cost anything for someone to take on this process; they don’t charge. There are some costs as you’re running the process—you need to fund a coordinator to help keep all the ducks in a row and keep all the activities in line so you know who’s doing what. But it’s an 18-month to two-year, four-phase process. It starts with identifying who’s in your community and who are the connections in the community. Often, some never really think about all the organizations and groups and individuals that are making that community function.”



Orton Family Foundation