Getting Started With Building Relationships

“Who else should we involve in community-level change?”

Relationships drive the work of community change forward. You are working to build relationships with a central team right now, but what about building relationships outside of your team? You need funding, resources, volunteers, and other assistance as you move through executing projects.  

The work of building relationships needs to happen before asking for something from organizations or individuals–your goal is to cultivate long-term and authentic partnerships while identifying what is important to community decision-makers, potential funders, and volunteers.  

In order to build strong relationships with others, you need to understand how you work with others. Continuing to learn more about yourself is important as these relationships develop. 


Activities: Choose 2-3 activities to complete to identify common interests and build relationships with your team. You’ll be tempted to jump straight into the work, but understanding what matters to others on your team and how they work best is important to your long-term success. Take your time with the activities; they aren’t intended to be completed in one sitting. 


  • Power Trading CardsTaking information that you garnered from your one-on-one conversations, complete this activity to have a quick reference within your community of what stakeholders consider to be important assets.  


  • Enneagram Personality Test – The Enneagram is a personality typing test that focuses on how you interact with others and what you find important. Take this quiz individually and then discuss your findings and results with your team. Identify who among the team is best at reaching out to new people and who is best at maintaining relationships.

  • My Community WishlistUsing the Community Wishlist from Lesson 1.3: Getting Started With Others, add a fourth column that identifies who exactly in the community cares about each of the items on the wishlist to better show the importance of these items.


Here’s your chance to take some time to think and reflect on your dreams and interests. Keep a community building journal, scribble notes on some post-its, or simply think about these questions before moving on to the next lesson!

  • Reflecting on your Enneagram type (1-9), identify your strengths and weaknesses with relationship-building tasks (For example, Enneagram 2s tend to be people pleasers).

  • What are specific tasks in your community that volunteers could assist with completing?

  • What were you surprised about when conducting the one-on-one conversations exercise?

Community Development in Action

MacKenzie Walker is a community leader in Matewan, WV who utilizes the power of relationship development to harness resources and funding for the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. Through building powerful partnerships, the City of Matewan has completed a series of small wins and met goals through a community development process, leading to larger projects currently underway. Learn more about what’s happening in Matewan in this video.

Watch this HubCAP video highlighting Matewan and their amazing work!

Ready to keep going?

Getting Started With Community and Economic Development

“I want to make a difference.”

We hear this phrase often, but what does making a difference really mean? Do you want to plant trees, manage a food drive, or paint a mural? Do you want to make sure that the rules that govern you are inclusive and fair? Or, do you want to tell your hometown’s stories in a way that excites others about the prospect of visiting or living there? Often, the best place to start to make a difference is in your own town or neighborhood. You know the people, the community, and the good things that are already happening there. 

At the WV Community Development Hub (The Hub), we work with people who want to make a difference every single day. Sometimes it’s a large team of people working to rehabilitate a historic downtown building, and sometimes it’s one person working to start a backpack donation program at their child’s school. We work with retired folks wanting to leave better neighborhoods for the next generation and young entrepreneurs who are setting up lemonade stands in their front yards.  

Anyone can work to build up their community. Thriving cities and towns often have a robust group of volunteers and leaders engaged who are working to create a better future through the creation of physical spaces, activities, and inclusive policies. 

If you have ever thought about making a difference in your community, this lesson is a great introduction to community development, which is the technical term for “making a difference” at the local level. 

We’re going to start by inspiring you to take part in community building, since that’s the very first step!


Choose 2-3 of the following activities and readings to familiarize yourself with community building and the model that we at The Hub use in all of our programming. Take your time to really dig in and be thoughtful; this is a journey that can last for several years, or even a lifetime.  

Writing Activities:

  • Now it’s time to take inspiration from others and dream big in your own community! Look around and complete this activity sheet, laying out your own dreams of community building. This is a brainstorming exercise to get the juices flowing. You may share with others or keep these thoughts to yourself for now.  


Reading Activities:

  • Read this article describing a number of definitions that an organization in Detroit uses within its work to move neighborhoods forward.  
  • Check out this list of sample projects and community building ideas for inspiration in your own street, neighborhood, or town. Community projects are signals of change and show how residents define and envision positive progress.


Listening Activities:

The Hub has a unique model of community engagement through individual and group leadership development. We find joy in working with West Virginia communities every day. Listen to this podcast produced by Strong Towns, introducing The Hub and two of our community coaches, Amanda Workman-Scott and Jenny Totten.


Here’s your chance to take some time to think and reflect on your dreams and interests. Keep a community building journal, scribble notes on some post-its, or simply think about these questions before moving on to the next lesson!

  • What are you most excited about in your community?
  • Why is making a difference important to you?
  • Why is now the right moment for your community?
  • Why are you ready to get started?

Community Development in Action

We love to lift up examples of communities and residents who are working hard to make a difference in West Virginia. For this lesson, we chose a community who knew they needed to bring a group of people together in order to start making a difference.

The city of Buckhannon can teach and inspire us all about community development and how it happens at the right time. It’s a circular and sometimes bumpy process. This community has been working for over a decade to revitalize its downtown, introduce local foods, and build up local businesses. At the center of this progress is an ongoing weekly community conversation that is open to anybody who wants to attend. Buckhannon’s ongoing success relies on new and fresh ideas constantly coming to fruition, and this happens when enough people who gather in a space together want to see change.

Watch this HubCAP video highlighting Buckhannon and their amazing work!

Ready to keep going?