The Central Area community has shown great passion through different stages and levels of engagement for the 23rd Avenue Action Plan that focuses on the community cores at Union, Cherry, and Jackson along 23rd Avenue.
early February to April, we started the project conversation by hosting 5 stakeholder group meetings and attending 9 meetings held by different community organizations. We engaged over 300 participants in our discussion including community based organizations, housing organizations, property owners, business owners, and community members. Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons reached out to over 80 historically underrepresented community members through individual workshops and in-person interviews to encourage their participation and get their initial input. The project team also spoke to more than 60 businesses in the community cores. In addition, 40 people provided valuable input through an online survey. The project team used all the feedback and discussion during this engagement stage to reach out to the broader Central Area community, have a better understanding of the assets, issues, and opportunities, and develop a meaningful and effective dialogue for the first community workshop.
On April 13, 2013, over 130 community members and other stakeholders attended our first community workshop at the Garfield Community Center. The great diversity of attendees reflected the demographic variety of the Central Area community. Over 28% of the attendees were Black or African-American, and 30% spoke a language other than English at home. People with diverse backgrounds, race, ages, and interest all worked together for a dynamic discussion of the future of the Central Area. We used instant polling surveys and map exercises to learn how people interact in the neighborhood; what is great and needs to be supported and what needs improvement; and to start a discussion about the future. Afaan-Oromo-speaking, Spanish-speaking, Tigrinya-speaking, African American, senior, and youth Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons also assisted in the workshop to provide interpretation and assistance. We conducted in-person and phone business surveys with 8 business owners that couldn’t attend the workshop. Over 86 participants filled out the online survey. The project team used all the input and discussion to develop community priorities and strategies.
Our work with the community so far has been a great success, and provided lessons learned for improvements for the future. The community’s passion demonstrates a need for a shared community vision and a strong working relationship to achieve that vision. We will host a second workshop at the end of June to confirm community priorities and draft strategies, and start developing specific action items.