Participatory democracy and community development are explored by looking back to the bold experiment undertaken in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1916 to 1920, called the Social Unit Plan. It is a glimpse into the economic, political, cultural and social consciousness of those who participated in the experiment during that period in American history. The paper suggests that by understanding the cultural and social lives of participants, our awareness of the range of options or possible efforts at addressing human social welfare needs in the past and the present are enhanced.

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