Developing the New Barn-Raising Concept— An Englishman’s Visit to Minnesota

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Developing the New Barn-Raising Concept— An Englishman’s Visit to Minnesota

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Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota


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In 2012, I took the summer off from my post as a policy advisor in the U.K. government’s Office for Civil Society and came to the United States with the support of a German Marshall Fund Fellowship. I wanted to see how U.S. cities (local government, nonprofits, foundations, and business) were sustaining community and civic assets such as parks, libraries, and art museums. The Twin Cities was one of my three case study metro areas through a visiting fellowship at CURA arranged by Jay Clark. (I also visited Baltimore, Maryland, and Detroit, Michigan.) The United States has much higher levels of philanthropy, volunteering, and local government autonomy, and it was how these were applied to assets that I was looking to see up close—within the United States the Twin Cities stands out for high levels of voluntarism and corporate social responsibility. Aided by Jay and others, I managed to pack some 60 interviews into my month-long stay in Minnesota.



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University of Minnesota: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs; Potts, Gareth. (2016). Developing the New Barn-Raising Concept— An Englishman’s Visit to Minnesota. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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