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"Soul of the Community" at Library

6/21/2011
Jennifer Heinicke, Wichita Public Library | JHeinicke@wichita.gov | (316) 261-8524

Report Shows Why Wichitans "Love Where They Live"

What makes Wichitans passionate about and loyal to their community? That's the question posed by "Soul of the Community," a project by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in partnership with Gallup, which has surveyed residents in Wichita and 25 other communities for the past three years. Wichita's report is now available in print at Wichita Public Library locations while supplies last or online at www.wichita.gov.

"This report provides leaders from all sectors with a fresh perspective about what emotionally attaches people to a community. Most importantly, this represents the voice of residents themselves," said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives. "Nationally the findings have been consistent in virtually every city surveyed. The top three things that make people feel connected to their community do not include what you might expect. It is not the availability of jobs or the quality of healthcare. Rather, people consistently gave higher ratings for things that relate directly to their daily quality of life: an area's physical beauty, opportunities for socializing and a city's openness to all people."

The Knight Soul of the Community survey also explores the connection between local economic growth and peoples’ emotional bond to a place. Three years of survey data clearly show a significant, positive link between resident attachment and local GDP growth.

“Our theory is that when a community’s residents are highly attached, they will spend more time there, spend more money, they’re more productive and tend to be more entrepreneurial,” said Jon Clifton, deputy director of the Gallup World Poll, who conducted the survey with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “The study bears out that theory and now provides all community leaders the knowledge they need to make a sustainable impact on their community.”

For more information on the project, visit www.wichita.gov.

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