Danita Delimont Creative/Alamy

These towns ensure a high quality of life for all residents, especially the most vulnerable.

Kate Wertheimer  – April 7, 2020 | Updated June 2, 2020

Eureka, CA

This small coastal town in Northern California’s Humboldt County (pictured above) is big on charm, and is leading the charge in continued commitment to a diverse and cared-for community that feels welcoming to all. Most notably, last October the town made international headlines when it returned Tuluwat Island in the Humboldt Bay to the Native American Wiyot Tribe, from which it had been taken 160 years prior. The event marked the first time a local government has taken such an action anywhere in the country, and was a long-awaited and deeply significant moment of healing. Eureka is home to grassroots programs like the North Coast People’s Alliance and the True North Organizing Network, which keep citizens informed and engaged while challenging social, economic, and environmental injustice in the region. UPLIFT Eureka, a city-wide volunteer movement, was designed to guide houseless members of the community through a series of resources and supportive programming to provide them with the tools to reclaim independence, dignity, and employment. In 2019, the city implemented Good Neighbor Week, encouraging citizens to write notes, introduce themselves to neighbors, explore nearby businesses, and work on teams to create traditional block parties. The town’s next big project? A one-of-a-kind redwood canopy walk that offers ADA-accessible aerial viewing platforms and interpretive walkways up to 100 feet above the ground, open to all. 

Anchorage, AK 

Anchorage

Shannon Kuhn/Anchorage Community Land Trust

The Anchorage Community Land Trust was created to revitalize one of the town’s most diverse neighborhoods, Mountain View. Among the Trust’s projects is the Grow North Farm, a 28,000 square-foot urban farm. 

Reno, NV 

Reno

Grant Denton

In 2018, community volunteers in Reno began placing handmade Karma Boxes (22 to date) across town, regularly stocked with non-perishable food and clothing to help the town’s homeless population.

Salem, OR 

Salem

Courtesy of Travel Salem

Oregon Black Pioneers is an all-volunteer nonprofit in Salem whose mission is to educate Oregonians about African Americans’ contributions to the state. 

Los Alamos, CA 

After the Los Alamos library was closed by the county, a group of locals formed the Friends of the Los Alamos Public Library in 2015 to raise money and re-open it, staffed almost completely by volunteers. 

Sebastopol, CA 

Sebastopol

Grace Emery

Sebastopol is one of only two places in the U.S. to be designated a Slow City by international organization Cittaslow, which celebrates slow living and community engagement and recognizes the town’s local economy, mural projects, pedestrian networks, community calendars, and even its town time bank.