Community Clusters Project
The Community Building Institute's Community Cluster analysis is intended to provide a framework for collaboration for the many and varied communities in Hamilton County, including Cincinnati and its neighborhoods. This work is a response to the many studies and debates that have taken place in the region in the past decade about regionalism. Business leaders, planners, and public policy analysts seem to agree that creating an environment of more collaborative decision making and shared government action make sense in this region. There has yet to be a framework that seems to resonate with the communities that make up the region. We hope that this cluster analysis will provide such a framework.
Rather than think of Hamilton County as one metropolitan area that needs to act in unison we asked how do people and businesses use this region? Which parts of the region share markets and resources and problems? What are the parts of the region that have shared histories and culture? How do real people view and use this place? As we thought about those questions and attempted to answer them a framework began to emerge. If you combined a traditional planning approach with a more non-traditional evaluation of how people conduct their personal lives and use a place you can create some very meaningful groupings or clusters of communities. These clusters of communities share housing markets, people go to the same shopping centers and grocery stores, and they send their children to the same schools. People tend to know people who live in the neighborhoods and communities that surround them. These groups of communities also share transportation and development patterns. When communities understand the relationship between them and see the stake they have in common issues it is much more likely that they will find ways to collaborate.
This is the general thinking behind the analysis of Hamilton County we used to create this framework of 11 clusters of communities that share common assets, issues, and development history. Each of these clusters has interrelated housing markets, school districts, and shopping trade areas. They are served by common hospitals and health care providers. They also have land use and transportation patterns that create relationships and shared interests.
We have also used existing research created by several respected academic, planning and public policy organizations to discuss these clusters. The Myron Orfield study commissioned by Citizens for Civic Renewal, the Hamilton County Compass Plan, and the Social Areas of Cincinnati work by Maloney and Affery all provide great insight into this region and how these clusters contribute to the overall health and development of Hamilton County.