Community Land Trust Profiles

The Origin Stories of Community Land Trusts

CLT Profiles - Graphic by Bonnie AckerWhile the community land trust movement as a whole is relatively young, there are now a number of CLTs in the United States that have been in operation for over 20 years. A few have now celebrated their 30-year anniversaries. Younger CLTs have begun appearing in Australia, Belgium, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Roots & Branches has begun inviting well-established CLTs to say how they got started. These “origin stories” will be posted here on a rolling basis over the next few years, as each is completed.

CLTs have been asked to choose someone in their own community to write an historical overview of approximately 1500 words and to collect photographs and documents from their organization’s early days. They have been urged to tell their own story in their own words, addressing such questions as:

  • IMPETUS: What problems or opportunities prompted people to start a CLT?
  • LEADERSHIP: Who were the CLT’s original advocates and organizers?
  • COMMUNITY: What population and territory did the CLT plan to serve?
  • ACTIVITY: What were the first lands and buildings to come into the CLT?
  • ENGAGEMENT: What was done early on (and later on) to keep the “C” in CLT?
  • EVOLUTION: How has the CLT changed over the years?

These origin stories are worth preserving, especially for a movement that prides itself on local accountability to people and places. These stories give us a glimpse into the kind of planning and organizing that goes into creating a CLT that has the potential to last. They also give credit where credit is due, honoring the contributions of “local heroes” who have helped to turn a theoretical model into a practical tool for promoting affordable housing and equitable development.

Profiles of CLTs in the United States

Profiles of CLTs Outside of the United States