Community Action Lab: Defining Roles

Anthony Harris
Anthony Harris
  • Updated

Community Action Lab Roles 

Listed and defined below are the terms Strong Towns to refer to key Community Action Lab actors. 

Host Community 

  • A host community is the area or place that has been submitted to be considered as a program participant. 
  • A host community can be outlined and determined by its geography, its historical development patterns, its demographics, and the sense of identity shared by the people that live there and consider it home. 
  • While Strong Towns does not have a strict litmus test for host community selection, our consideration criteria include strong support from local leadership, high levels of curiosity and thoughtfulness amongst potential CAL implementation staff/team members, and engaged community ambassadors - everyday “strong citizens” who care. A considerable financial commitment (likely in the range of $125-$175K) is also required; this can be sourced from multiple potential funding avenues. 

Leadership Team

  • The Leadership Team is a group of decision-makers within the host community engaged in the initiative. This Team agrees to mentoring Action Team members, providing project feedback, and encouraging community-level support for CAL changes that embody Strong Towns principles.
  • Participants may include elected officials, appointed officials, department heads, and anyone else in a leadership capacity who wants to be regularly briefed on the Community Action Lab and have Strong Towns answer any project-relevant questions they may have. 
  • Strong Towns has not set a minimum or maximum number of members for CAL Leadership Teams. The number and specific composition will vary to address the specific needs of each host community. 
  • While we want to keep decision-makers informed and be available to answer their inquiries, we also want to avoid getting weighed down by local politics, project-specific discussions, and any decision-making that may distract from the overall CAL objectives. 

Action Team

  • The Action Team is a core group of (12 - 15) people engaged in ongoing learning about, training on, and implementation of Strong Towns principles. 
  • Participants are the people who are working within the system -- county staff, municipal staff, and others in the community -- but are not in a top leadership position or generally viewed as a critical decision-maker. Members possess future leadership potential, a desire to learn experientially, and a commitment to professional development and growth. 
  • Members shall bring a constructive, problem-solving attitude to the challenges they face. 


  • Strong Towns often uses the term stakeholders to refer to professional organizations or single issue groups or organizations, working and/or living within the host community. Stakeholders are generally focused on advocating and discussing fine grain details. 
  • Stakeholders are an important voice in each community which may require additional focus and attention that may not be possible in a larger community session. 
  • Stakeholders are identified by the host city early in the process. Common Stakeholder groups are: 
    • Developers
    • Business Leaders and Associations
    • Advocacy Organizations
    • Neighborhood Groups

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