Building better business communities and rebuilding community/resident relationships takes new ideas and new techniques. The Wise Economy Workshop’s books and other publications are designed to give you usable, accessible information to help you make changes.  You’ll find arguments to help you support new ideas, specific tools and tactics for making change, and the occasional dose of encouragement to help you make it happen.



All books are available in print, in the Amazon Kindle format, or as a digital download.

Crowdsourcing Wisdoma guide to doing public meetings that actually make your community better (and won’t make people wish they hadn’t come)book cover

The ways, the methods, the assumptions that we rely on to do day-to-day democracy stuff – to figure out what people want their governments to do, to try to get them to understand why we’re building this or that, to get people involved in decisions the way we know we should… Way too often, the only response we get is a useless response.
Our bigger problem, though, is the thousands that we don’t hear from. Who may see and understand things that we, the Insiders, are missing. Who have expertise and insights and experience of their own that could show us a way through the concrete walls of the tough problems that We the Insiders have been slamming our heads against for decades.
Those people are not failing to participate because they don’t care about the places where they live. They’re not failing to participate because they don’t care what we do. They’re failing to participate because we’ve given them a pretty clear message that we don’t want them to have a meaningful role in the process.
But none of that has to happen.  We can borrow a few tricks from businesses and from educators to turn that dysfunctional situation around, giving us not only happier residents, but more useful participation that makes our plans and decisions better.
In this book, we’ll do a brass-tacks examination of the ways that our usual public engagement assumptions and methods backfire on us. We’ll then walk through a more effective strategy for doing public engagement that gives both citizens and governments a better and more meaningful experience.  We’ll conclude with some tactics for managing unproductive behavior and Crowdsourcing Wisdom when you find yourself stuck with some of our typical public meeting situations.

The Local Economy Revolution: What’s Changed and How You Can Help

cover LERWhether they’re professionals or volunteers, people across the world are discovering that the economics that sustain their communities are shifting fast, and they’re struggling to find new solutions.  But instead of just trying old ideas harder, they’re gradually realizing that we need a whole new approach.

In The Local Economy Revolution,economic revitalization specialist Della Rucker unpacks the deep changes underlying these communities’ struggles.  Drawing on both professional expertise and personal stories and analogies that reach deeply into human experience, The Local Economy Revolution shines a new light on the profound impacts of the last few decades on the places where people live and work, and sketches a new way forward that builds on the reasons why our places matter to us.

The Local Economy Revolution  takes readers on an accessible tour of three Undercurrents driving changes in local economies, four Implications that derive from those Undercurrents, and three Secret Weapons.  Written in an accessible, personal style that is by turns profound, touching and beautiful, The Local Economy Revolution gives a refreshing, optimistic new perspective on the importance and potential of communities of all types.


Why This Work Matters: Wisdom from the People Who Are Making Communities Better

wtwm cover ebookIf you work to help make communities better, you probably ask yourself that.  At least once in a while.  Maybe more.

People who do this work – – city managers, urban planners, economic developers, nonprofit directors, community developers, government phone-answerers — do hard work.  Unbelievably hard work.  The hard work of trying to improve our places and our communities — the most complicated things that most of us encounter every day.

And they do it today in a world that often assumes that they are slackers, incompetent, foolish or worse.  And they do it today in communities where budgets get slashed over and over again, where funding sources offer less and demand more, and where the number of hours, people, brain cells that can be put to the work gets squeezed and squeezed and squeezed again.  And at the same time, the demands — the number, the complexity, the difficulty — go through the roof.

This book introduces you to the voices of 11 people who are doing this hard work.  In their own words, as clearly and honestly as they can put in writing, you’ll hear how they manage the frustrations of this work — how they deal with political realities, with shortcomings, with bureaucracy and discouragement.  And, maybe more importantly, you’ll hear what they draw on to summon the courage and the bravery to keep at it.

Some of these voices are practical, some are philosophical.  Some will touch your mind, others will grab your heart.  All of them are amazing, and all of the are beautiful.


Short Shots

In manufacturing, a short shot is a test of an injection mold, such as you might use to make a plastic bottle, to check whether the settings are correct before you start running thousands of bottles through the machine.  My Short Shots are also tests – quick, inexpensive and easy-to-digest introductions to new ideas, new approaches, and new methods, typically that no one has written a full book about yet.

Short shots are available in the Kindle format or as a digital download, but print copies can be arranged.

What We Thought We Knew, and What We Can Do: Secrets of Retail District Revitalization

Short Shot Business District Revitalization coverAcross the US and much of the world, downtowns and older commercial districts struggle against decline.  We see stores closing, buildings crumbling, problem after problem mounting up.  And the usual things that we try often don’t make a difference.  So what do we do?

Through illustrations and short, direct explanations, this Short Short takes you into the real-life challenges that hobble and sicken small businesses, giving you a glimpse of the hidden reasons why commercial districts decline, and then it introduces you to a new set of techniques that can help solve those challenges.  Designed so that each page can be shared separately, Secrets of Retail District Revitalization gives you a quick, action-oriented playbook for taking a new approach to your retail district revitalization.



Other writings

You can find Wise Economy Workshop insights in lots of places, including this site and the blogs on the web sites for the Local Economy Revolution, Crowdsourcing Wisdom and Why This Work Matters.  You can also find good stuff on Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, EngagingCities and Creating Genius, among occasional others.