In honor of our 125th Anniversary, we will be using our newsletter to highlight 125 projects or initiatives that use civic capital to solve problems and build equitable, thriving communities. These cities have been recognized for engaging community members in collaborative efforts to improve education, health care, economic prosperity and the general quality of life. Today, examples 51-60:
- Norfolk, VA. The Neighbors Building Neighborhoods (NBN) initiative was founded on the belief that sustainable change occurs when neighbors work together and take control of their neighborhoods. To support this paradigm shift, both residents and city staff received training on core NBN principles such inclusiveness and a focus on community strengths instead of weaknesses.
- Fall River, MA. Recognizing the importance of having parents involved in their children’s education, Fall River formed the Parent Academy, a joint effort between the city’s Director of Early Childhood and Parent and Community Engagement, and the School District’s Superintendent. More than 60 people from 32 organizations came together to raise the necessary funds and design the initiative, among them businesspeople, school representatives, local officials and community members. The academy planning committee surveyed parents to determine what classes would be of interest and how they wanted the academy to fun, and received more than 750 responses in a variety of languages.
- Brown Deer, WI. In 2009, the village of Brown Deer, Wisconsin, formulated a comprehensive plan, the culmination of thousands of hours of work by hundreds of people in the community. Key stakeholders, village staff, and elected officials were identified and interviewed. Community workshops were organized and public comment was collected, before the plan was written and published. The new plan provided a clear distillation of the public’s priorities and vision for the future. Three themes relating directly to the welfare of the village’s children stood out clearly: education, diversity, and environmental sustainability.
- Minneapolis, MN. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) piloted a racial equity tool when discussing a $2 million renovation of Bossen Field, which has multiple uses including softball fields for teams throughout the city as well as recreational needs of the neighborhood residents.
- Tallahassee, FL. Based on the collective vision of Tallahassee residents, Cascades Park is a $30 million, 24-acre state-of-the-art storm water management facility cleverly disguised as a world-class park. For decades, Tallahassee struggled with how to address two major issues 1) destructive, even deadly flooding 2) the toxic wasteland on the site where the city was first founded. Through collaborative engagement and input from all sectors – including citizens’ working groups, neighborhood commissions, community organizations, entertainers, local businesses and government – Cascades Park not only alleviated flooding issues, but rehabilitated the site of the city’s founding.
- Brownsville, TX. The Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan helped define a new economic vision for the region. Prosperous vision themes were defined through intensive community engagement, describing a community with low poverty rates based on targeted industrial clusters that offer good jobs paying livable wages and sustainable employment opportunities for future generations. Winner of the American Planning Association’s 2009 Comprehensive Planning Award, the plan had two primary goals: first, to establish the community’s vision objectives for a ten-year planning horizon; and second, to develop an implementable strategy to help reach these targeted objectives by leveraging the community’s natural, institutional, human, economic, and infrastructure resources in an effective, competitive and sustainable way.
- Boston, MA. Inspired to reduce barriers faced by minorities when trying to access healthcare and to navigate the health care system, Dr. Milagros Abreu founded the Latino Health Insurance Program, Inc. (LHIP) in East Boston in 2006. Targeted at a population with a low rate of health insurance enrollment, LHIP’s aimed to improve the quality of medical care and coverage for minorities, as well as to provide information that is culturally and linguistically sensitive and appropriate about how to manage their chronic disease conditions. Milagros prioritized increasing access to medical care and food for minority residents, connecting them to medical facilities, and improving health literacy, while reducing medical cost.
- Rancho Cordova, CA. The Cordova Community Council is a citizen-based 501(c)(3) organization that has offices in the Rancho Cordova City Hall and receives much of its funding from the city. The Council was founded in 1959 as a collaboration of several community organizations, and essentially operates as the city’s community affairs arm.
- Salinas, CA. Ciclovía Salinas is the only youth-led open streets initiative and the first open streets initiative in Monterey County. Open Streets initiatives temporarily close streets to auto traffic so they can be used for biking, walking and other physically active uses. A diverse coalition of individuals and organizations team up in a variety of ways to make Ciclovía Salinas possible and successful.
- Somerville, MA. As Somerville moved from a mostly white to highly diverse community, they sought to leverage engagement to better understand the many perspectives which made their community so vibrant.