Conversations in Community Change: Voices from the Field


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Virginia Tech Publishing


The Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance launched an experiment in 2011 called the Community Voices initiative. Community Voices was a student-led group devoted to bringing graduate students and faculty from diverse backgrounds into thoughtful dialogue with leaders who have devoted their professional lives to spurring or assisting with community change. This book is the product of those conversations.

Conversations in Community Change features 12 interviews conducted by members of Community Voices, since renamed the Community Change Collaborative (CCC). The interviewees are leaders who have worked in many different contexts across the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors to instigate meaningful change (democratic social, political and economic) in their communities. The animating idea behind these interviews is that those in search of peaceful democratic social change, especially amidst ongoing economic and social dislocation, have much to learn from one another within the United States and internationally, and at all levels of governance.

Among the topics and initiatives discussed in the book:

  • Efforts to secure civil and human rights for groups that have historically experienced discrimination,
  • How food system pioneers are seeking to make alternatives to the present corporate-dominated food production framework real for growers and consumers alike,
  • How the arts can open up new public and private spaces to permit reconsideration of otherwise dominant assumptions and thinking,
  • The social exigencies created by capitalism’s constant economic dislocation and roiling,

Ultimately, readers will come away from the book with a fuller appreciation for the complexities of democratic change—and the need for modesty, patience, and perseverance among those who would seek to lead or encourage such efforts.



Democracy, Social movements, Social change dynamics, Public policy, Community development