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Since our beginnings in 2001, SCOPE has invested in promoting efforts to bring about big, community-wide, positive change in Sarasota County.  Along the way, we have been paying attention to what has worked and what, despite the best of community intentions, has never realized its anticipated potential.  Increasingly, we have come to agree with Nabeel Hamdi, author of Small Change: The Art of Practice and the Limits of Planning in Cities (2004).  Hamdi says:

“In order to do something big … one starts with something small and one starts where it counts.  …[It] is about making the ordinary special and the special more widely accessible – expanding the boundaries of understanding and possibility with vision and common sense.  It is about building densely interconnected networks, crafting linkages between unlikely partners and organizations, and making plans without the usual preponderance of planning.  It is about getting it right for now and at the same time being tactical and strategic about later.  This is not about forecasting, nor about making decisions about the future.  But it is about the long range, about making sure that one plus one equals two or even three, about being politically connected and grounded, and about disturbing the order of things in the interests of change.”

To help the community of Sarasota County realize its potential, SCOPE is now “starting with something small and starting where it counts” by investing in neighborhood-specific community changemakers:

  • Residents who have decided that what they deeply care about is their own neighborhood. 
  • Residents who are actively discovering with their fellow neighbors everything that is special about the place they together call home. 
  • Residents who are forming relationships and generating conversation to make the special features and possibilities of their place more recognizable, both within their neighborhoods and throughout their broader communities, cities, and county. 

These neighbors are starting where it counts – on their own home turf.  Each in their own (quiet and not-so-quiet) ways is demonstrating “splendid audacity,” disturbing the order of things to bring about change for the better.  As they go, SCOPE is contributing support by way of reflective consultation, meeting space and supplies, technical assistance, and training in community-building as needed and desired. 

 In these ways, we are together promoting efforts to bring about big, community-wide, positive change in Sarasota County.



Past neighborhood-specific efforts:


  • In 2009, members of North Port CHAT and Vision North Port joined SCOPE for lunch with John McKnight of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute of Northwestern University. The goal was to hear about the asset-based philosophy and to see how the two groups might add to one another’s efforts.
  • Two North Port residents joined the SCOPE Staff as Americorps VISTA workers to promote resident-led efforts to build community capacity for identifying and mobilizing North Port’s strengths and assets.


In 2007, SCOPE started working with the Newtown community to encourage resident-led change using the goals and assets of the community itself as a starting point.

SCOPE spent time learning with residents about the community to better understand the issues, relationships, and opportunities for action, shared resources with active and emerging community leaders, and participated in ongoing conversations with existing groups and organizations. More specifically:

  • In 2009, thirty Newtown residents attended a workshop with John McKnight of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute of Northwestern University at New Bethel Church.  Residents learned about community-organizing tools, reviewed asset-based principles and began working on ways to identify and mobilize assets within Newtown.  SCOPE participated in the activities of this group and offered support to other citizens who resonate with this philosophy of change.
  • A Newtown resident joined SCOPE as an Americorps VISTA worker to promote resident-led efforts to build community capacity for identifying and mobilizing Newtown’s strengths and assets.
  • Residents mapped community assets and collaborated with SCOPE to find ways to come together as the Newtown community around key issues. 

"The approach helped me understand how residents feel about their neighborhood. I have also gained new leadership skills and a method to get residents to share what they care about."
– Carl Stephens, Amaryllis Park



SCOPE worked with the Venice Gardens Civic Association (VCGA) to engage and connect residents in new ways. The association was striving to include the growing number of young families in their community. Over the course of 3 years, SCOPE helped VGCA organize two “Fun Fairs” and an Open House designed to strengthen relationships and connections among neighbors.

“We organized an Open House and were able to attract new members. SCOPE is helpful in encouraging people to come together to realize their strength and abilities.”
-Linda Lukacs, Venice Gardens Civic Association

“I don't know what we would have done without SCOPE leading the way. We all knew we needed to take some kind of action, but the experience you have with neighborhoods was a fantastic guide.”
-Leann Fellmeth, Venice Gardens Civic Association



In 2009, SCOPE supported the continued development of the volunteer, faith-based caregiver respite program “A Special Time.” SCOPE worked with A Special Time from its early stages to help founders clarify their goals and directions, identify and tap assets within the faith-based community, and build partnerships within the faith-based community. SCOPE staff helped foster leadership within the group by strategically stepping back while providing some basic support in website creation and organizational form templates.

"The best thing SCOPE was able to do was connect us with various organizations in the city and county and give us a direction to go when we weren't sure what the next steps should be… SCOPE's involvement has been invaluable to A Special Time."
- Wilma Ellis, Program Director, A Special Time





A Special Time
City of Sarasota Neighborhoods Office
Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP)
Lake Sarasota Community Blog
Newtown Front Porch
North Port Connects
Sarasota County Neighborhood Services

Asset-Based Community Development Institute
ABCD in Action: When People Care Enough to Act by Mike Green, Henry Moore & John O’Brien
Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community by Peter Block
Coady International Institute: ABCD
Everyday Democracy
Building Strong Neighborhoods
Grassroots Grantmakers
The Communiversity


SCOPE ~ 1226 North Tamiami Trail, Suite 202 ~ Sarasota, FL 34236 ~ (941) 365-8751~ Fax: (941) 365-8592

Photos courtesy of Kazuaki Nagata & PolaBran Summers