Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Strengths and Threats to Resident Attachment to Durham

(Reposted from Durham News Service)

For nearly two decades DCVB has used scientific polling to annually track things like community pride and satisfaction among residents. It has provided indisputable confirmation of the passion Durham residents feel about their community.  This is important to destination marketing because residents make emotional connections with visitors, and their engagement is key to delivering a successful Durham experience.

Durham was an early pioneer of this type of assessment as a means to monitor the resident attachment and engagement which is so important to the strength of a community.  In fact, there were no benchmarks to compare to except on the few occasions DCVB would sample opinions about similar communities in North Carolina.

Recently, though, the Knight Foundation and the Gallup Poll conducted a similar series surveys of 26 areas of varying sizes across the nation over a three-year period ending last year.

  • Passion and loyalty turn out to be the most important indicators of resident attachment to their communities or connectedness which correlates with economic health.
  • Compared to the overall passion benchmark of barely 1 to1 nationwide and in North Carolina, Durham passion among residents for the community is nearly 15 to 1.
  • In the measure of loyalty to community, which includes how likely residents are to stay and recommend it to others and the outlook for the future, Durham residents are three times higher than the benchmark. Overall attachment to Durham was more than double the next highest community in the benchmark.

The Knight/Gallup analysis also revealed something that threatens to erode resident attachment to Durham if not remedied. With only one glaring exception, among the dozen or so attributes that drive attachment, Durham was above or at the benchmark.

The three most important drivers for the benchmark were identified as 1) social offerings, which includes nightlife, restaurants, arts and culture, and caring about one another etc. 2) openness to different groups and 3) aesthetics, in that order.

  • In the area of social offerings Durham residents ranked the community 2.3 times higher than the benchmark.
  • In the area of openness Durham residents also ranked the community 2.3 times higher than the benchmark.
  • However, in the area of aesthetics, which by 4 to 1 Durham residents rank a as a high community priority, Durham ranks more than 4 times lower than the benchmark.

While by a ratio of 5 to 1 Durham residents rank the community high for availability of parks, playgrounds and trails, by 3 to 1 they disagree that roadsides and public areas are attractive and litter free. By 2.5 to 1 they disagree that Durham has good signs and way-finding to help people get around. And the longer people live in the community, the more they disagree with Durham’s standing on these last two measures.

Clearly Durham residents believe that if officials want to protect and improve the attachment and connectedness among residents then the element they most need to improve is the overall upkeep and aesthetics of the community.

Improving aesthetics will also help improve other drivers of attachment. Experts conducting regression analysis predict that if officials can engage in activities that improve resident perception of aesthetics from the current 2.45 on a scale of 1 to 5 or to 3.45, it will also improve the perception of education by 25% and the perception of overall basic services by 51%.


Ninth Street Watch said...

Dear Reyn,

I have recently started a local blog focused on Old West Durham and Ninth Street Shopping District (check it out at ) and was wondering if from time to time I could repost some of your post on it (with full attribution of course).

Many thanks,


Reyn said...

please do Oleg - I enjoy your blog as well