Dedicated to the strengthening of Canton neighborhoods, Community Building Partnership of Stark County, Inc. (CBP) grounds our work in the “Healthy Neighborhoods Concepts” of national neighborhood strategist David Boehlke. With over 30 years working with hundreds of communities, Boehlke is nationally recognized as one of the country’s elite neighborhood strategists. The main focus of David’s work focuses on developing innovative initiatives that help communities set realistic goals and priorities which focus on neighborhood strengths instead of deficiencies.
Based on a 2010 strategic neighborhood assessment conducted by Mr. Boehlke, CBP created the Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP) with the goal to promote each neighborhood as a “neighborhood of choice” where residents confidently invest their Time, Effort And Money, as well as become actively involved in the everyday management of neighborhood activities. CBP has recruited and trained organizers to implement the strategies of the Healthy Neighborhoods Program. Each organizer plays a leading role in organizing improvement projects and programs that strengthen the social fabric among residents in CBP’s targeted renewal efforts.
The focus outcomes of the Healthy Neighborhoods Program are neighborhood improvement in the following areas:
- • Physical Condition of properties and blocks;
- • Image of the neighborhood to both residents and others;
- • Involvement and Investment of residents in their neighborhoods; and
- • Real Estate Market to build equity for residents and the neighborhood.
Our focus is to work with the residents to help improve the Physical Condition, Resident Investment and Involvement, and overall Image of their community–building strong relationships and raising Real Estate Values as we work together. We build confidence in residents, stakeholders, and the City through the following strategic approaches:
ICE CREAM SOCIAL APPROACH
The concept behind this strategy is to place several 5-gallon tubs of ice cream in a neighborhood where people, especially youth will naturally congregate around the ice cream. This approach can be used in many forms, but the core goal doesn’t change. This approach proves successful because its focus is on the core goal to build relationships and trust among neighbors. These “get-togethers” have no agenda and serve only as an environment for residents to focus on each other.
NO BLAME GAME
The “No Blame Game” shift is necessary in properly equipping residents to understand and retain the Healthy Neighborhood language. It is common practice at the on-set of neighbor gatherings that the focus hovers around what is negative or wrong with the neighborhood and placing the blame on the government, renters, land lords, etc. The goal is to divert the conversation to focus on the positive assets in the neighborhood, as well as posing the question, “Are you willing to invest your time, effort and money into your neighborhood?”
BUILDING FROM STRENGTH PHILOSOPHIES
Each neighborhood has, at minimum, one “strength” as leverage to the advantage of the residents. For example: A park, a school, or a well-established business. By focusing on the asset(s) associated with the neighborhood the residents can build from the strength the asset(s) holds. This shifts the residents focus on negative blight in the community to what they already have to build on.
Neighborhood Walks provide residents an opportunity to view their neighborhood in terms of the neighborhood strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strong assets the neighborhood possesses, again with the idea of building from strength. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses it is much easier for residents to set obtainable outcomes to improve upon those strengths or to begin the process of strengthening their weaknesses.
The goal is to create high expectations, and not enforce the minimum standards; to target blocks and properties to make an impact; to focus on the impact where small improvements make a big difference and set an example for others.
Not every resident in the targeted area is interested in helping a block they don’t live on. Block projects involve residents living on the block to rally around a highly visible improvement to their block. For example: Everyone on the block decides to plant the same tree in their front yard.
A successful Community Project supporting the Healthy Neighborhoods Program (improving the Physical Condition, Image, Involvement and Investment, Real Estate Market) strives to:
• Include everyone (or at least a majority) in the decision making process
• Build relationships among neighbors
• Build power and leadership
• Redirect the conversation from negative to positive
• Foster resident self-management
• Set an example
• Make an impact
• Emphasize neighborhood identity