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Public Kinship is the acknowledgment that we are family in our community, nations, and world, and that we act accordingly. It is the willingness of everyday people to publicly assume responsibility in acting out the phrase 'love thy neighbor as thyself.' It requires our leaders to support participation in the nation's public arena and promote community ethics.

— Dr. Bobby William Austin



Public Kinship is the foundational recognition of our common humanity — that our own well-being is bound to that of others.


The concept of Public Kinship was developed by sociologist Dr. Bobby William Austin, and stems from his work as the Director of the seminal 1996 report commissioned by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and released by the National Task Force on African American Men and Boys, Repairing the Breach: Keys Ways to Support Family Life, Reclaim Our Streets, and Rebuild Civil Society in America's Communities.

Public Kinship is seen and felt in the often overlooked behavior that guides how we live our values and care for our communities. It is evidenced in the everyday gestures that reaffirm our trust and compassion towards one another: greeting neighbors, sharing meals, attending events to support efforts, taking that extra step to tidy our streets or grow a community garden. Though seemingly small, the sum of these actions and the sentiment behind them textures our neighborhoods and nation.

Throughout our history, we have each seen and felt Public Kinship. To help share this ideal we hope you join us in finding a way to reconnect with one another.  


"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." — Mahatma Gandhi.


Our initatives. Join Us!



Listen, collaborate, innovate!

We are proud to launch an open-source think-and-do-tank for engaged residents, researchers, fellow nonprofits, practitioners, and private and philanthropic organizations to listen to one another openly and exchange ideas to build Public Kinship. 


On June 17, 2021, Neighborhood Associates participated in the Listen First Project's National Week of Conversation with a Roundtable on "Public Kinship - A Leadership Strategy for America." Our expert practitioner panel discussed how intergenerational trust-building and creativity can show the way toward stronger families, neighborhoods, and communities.

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Join us in our campaign to Build Public Kinship! 

This easy guide is a daily Calendar of how residents, fellow nonprofits, and civic groups can help make their neighborhood kinder, more connected, and more engaged. 

We hope you will build on the Calendar and guide, share with your neighbors, and post on social media with hashtag #PublicKinship.




The Community Garden at our Paradise at Parkside community combines innovative and efficient hydroponic growing with educational and volunteering opportunities - a truly sustainable combination for nurturing community energy! In 2020, Garden participants grew 300 pounds of strawberries in hydroponic towers, beautified raised beds, established a gardening club, and hosted free events like healthy cooking for kids and classes on the life cycle of plants. A "little free library" stands nearby.

Our goals for 2021 are to create a greenhouse and plan out a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program run collaboratively with residents. We also plan to complement the garden with an outdoor classroom and weekly workshops on nutrition, biology, and environmental sustainability. 

Paradise Hydroponic Community Garden



DC|  FL | KY | NC

FACT, NAC's free whole-family arts-and-bonding initiative, nurtures the artistic talents of families in affordable housing, and inspires them to become leading creative voices in their communities. From 2017-19, we reached 188 guardians and children. In addition to engaging classes led by teaching artists, and family field trips to art museums, FACT hosted 6 community art exhibits. FACT is now 100% on-line to keep families safe and connected, and we're growing all the time!

FACT is funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust of North Carolina, and by donors like you.



Stories are the foundation of communities. But too often stories of strength and civic participation are not amplified. We'd like to change that...with your help. Building on an intergenerational and multicultural forum we piloted in 2017, we're working with our allied housing network around the country to highlight and amplify how civic leadership sustains community wellbeing.

We're collecting and showcasing stories from residents and friends, with the aim of creating Public Kinship Clubs, and hosting forums and workshops, in all of our allied communities

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as published in the Blog of the

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See and hear from artists, teachers, activists, and thought leaders that build Public Kinship everyday!

Public Kinship, a leadership strategy grounded in the precept of loving thy neighbor as thyself, offers a path toward answering hard questions facing urban communities today:


  • How can local practices of care and engagement build cultures of trust, neighborliness, and intergenerational cooperation?

  • How can we learn to lead ourselves, so that we may lead with and listen to others?

Join Dr. Bobby W. Austin and a distinguished group of practitioners as they explore Public Kinship’s potential for building the dialogues we need now as part of the National Week of Conversation, hosted by the Listen First Project, gratefully acknowledged here.



  • Dr. Bobby W. Austin, President, Neighborhood Associates, Washington DC

  • George Spencer, National President, MAD DADS, Pittsburgh PA

  • Octavais Brown, FACT Teaching Artist, Washington, DC

  • Melissa Strova-Valencia, FACT Teaching Artist, Teatro La Bolsa, Washington, DC

  • Marlesha S. Woods, FACT Teaching Artist, Louisville KY


1101 30th St NW, Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20007

Office: (202) 333-8447

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