Getting Your Data: Community Visioning

Activity: 3.8 Community Timeline

Purpose of the Activity:

This activity is designed to give participants information about the history of your community.  It will help build a shared analysis of the past in order to think collectively about a vision for the community’s future.  The activity will also introduce participants to community visioning as a research method.

By the End of Activity Participants Will:

  • Have learned about the history and timeline of the community or issue you are working on
  • Have learned about community visioning as a research method

Before this Activity Participants Will Need to:

Know about your campaign and how research fits into the campaign

Materials Needed:

Paper

Writing Utensils

Timeline for wall

Post-it notes

Intended Audience:

Members or Staff of your Organization

Time Needed:

45 Minutes

Part I: Introduction to Community Visioning (15minutes)

Facilitator Instructions:

  1. Welcome everyone.  Ask attendees to introduce themselves and mention one recent change that they have noticed in the neighborhood.
  2. Explain that we are here today as part of a community visioning process to have our voices heard about what type of future we want for our community (or schools, housing complex, etc.).
  3. Explain that everyone’s input will be used to create a plan for the future of our community.

Part II: Timeline of Community Development (30 minutes)

Facilitator Instructions:

  1. Before the meeting put a timeline on the wall.  You can start as far back as you think makes sense and can divide the years in 5 or 10 year increments (i.e. 1950s, 1960s, etc.).
  2. Make sure participants are seated in a way that they are able to see timeline on the wall.
  3. Set the context: before we come up with a plan for our community’s future development we want to review the history of development in our neighborhood.
  4. Give each participant several post-it notes and ask them to write something that happened in the neighborhood during some point along the timeline.  This could include the creation or demolition of a building or school or a major political or social event.
  5. Ask everyone to place the post-it notes on the wall next to the corresponding year(s).
  6. Ask participants to explain what they put on the timeline. Make it interactive. Ask participants for input: Does anyone remember when building x was demolished and a luxury condo was built in its place? Who can describe what the community looked like in the 1970s, 80s or 90s and how it was different than today?
  7. As you finish the timeline and get to the present, get the group to analyze the development process. Are there any major trends that stick out over time? Are these trends good for our community or not? What does this history mean for our community now?

Activity: 3.9 Our Vision, Our Neighborhood

Purpose of Activity:

This activity is designed to encourage the group to think about the future of their community. The participants will have the opportunity to explain and prioritize the types of services, programs and businesses they want to see in their neighborhood.  They will also be able to articulate the concerns they have for the future of their community.

By the End of Activity Participants Will:

  • Identify which types services, programs and businesses they want to see in the community
  • Explain concerns for future of the neighborhood

Before this Activity Participants Will Need to:

Have determined your research goals and research question

Have decided on your research method

Goals:

To develop vision for the future of the community

To get more in depth explanations and visualization from participants about what they want in their neighborhood

Materials Needed:

Butcher Paper

Markers

“Our Neighborhood” charts/print outs

“Our Neighborhood” category description

Different color stickers

Notebooks (for note-takers)

Pens

Time Needed:

2 hours

Description of Our Neighborhood Activity:

Participants will be given stickers and asked to choose the activities that they prefer to do during a day in the neighborhood. The facilitator will use the “our neighborhood” activity chart/print-out, which will have visual representations of a variety of activities for participants to choose from. The activity is organized into two parts. 1) Services and Programs: Sticker voting on free activities, services and programs etc.  2) Businesses: Sticker voting on businesses for the community.

Part I: Our Neighborhood Services & Programs (45 minutes)

Facilitator Instructions:

  1. Prepare the “Our Neighborhood” chart and category description handout (see Tool 3.12) in advance of the meeting.
  2. Split the group up into groups of 5 (modify group size based on number of training participants).
  3. Give each group a Chart and the accompanying handout.
  4. Introduce the activity to the group. Explain that the activity is designed to get a sense of what types of activities and developments we want to see in our community. Explain that the activity will be split into two parts: 1) Services and Programs, and 2) Businesses.
  5. Explain directions for the activity: The “Our Neighborhood” chart is split into different possible services and programs that could be developed in the neighborhood. The accompanying handout has descriptions of these activities.
  6. Ask for a volunteer to read the descriptions for each of the activities on the chart.
  7. Give each person three stickers. Ask Participants to place a sticker next to the top three activities that they would like to do in the neighborhood free of charge.
  8. After each participant has voted on their top 3 choices, go around the table and ask each participant to answer the questions below. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak.  The facilitator should write people’s responses in shorthand on the butcher paper and the note-taker should be capturing quotes from the participants.

Debrief Questions (capture responses on butcher paper and in notes):

  • What is the service or program you voted on during the activity we just did (again these are free services and programs)?
  • What would this service or program look like?
  • Why is it important to your community?

Part II: Our Neighborhood Businesses (45 minutes)

Facilitator Instructions:

  1. Make sure each table has the “Business” section of the “Our Neighborhood” chart.
  2. Ask a volunteer to read the descriptions of each business type listed in the handout.
  3. Distribute 5 stickers to each participant and explain that each sticker represents one dollar.
  4. Have participants “spend” their five dollars at businesses that they would like to see in the neighborhood.
  5. After each participant has spent their five dollars.  Go around the table and ask each participant to answer the questions below. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak.  The facilitator should write people’s responses in shorthand on the butcher paper and the note-taker should be capturing quotes from the participants.

Debrief Questions:

  • What is the business you voted on during the activity we just did?
  • What would this service or program look like?
  • Why is it important to your community?

Part III: Development Concerns (30 minutes)

Facilitator Instructions:

1. Explain that the last step of the day’s activity, which will also be done in small groups, is to discuss general concerns that you have about development in the neighborhood. These could include things such as lack of low-cost programs, services and activities, increased displacement, increased gentrification etc.

2. Go around the circle and have each participant respond to the questions below.
Make sure everyone has a chance to speak.  The facilitator should write people’s responses in shorthand on the butcher paper and the note-taker should be capturing quotes from the participants.

Development Concerns

  • Do you have concerns about development in your neighborhood? What is your primary concern?
  • Please be as specific as possible about your concern and why you have it.

3. Ask each group to choose a representative to do a quick 2 minute summary of what was discussed in their groups to share with the large group. Facilitators should write these up on butcher paper and note takers should capture quotes.

4. Wrap-Up: Review what has been accomplished in the activity for the day. Then go through information about next steps, upcoming activities etc.

Tool: 3.13 Our Neighborhood Activity Chart—Services & Programs

Education

Arts & Culture

Information

Open Space

Social Services

Sports & Recreation

Other


Category Descriptions—Services & Programs

Education: How can our community use the neighborhood better for educational activities? Put your sticker here if you’d like to see more education related activities in the neighborhood. This includes both formal educational centers like public schools, as well as non-formal educational centers like museums, non-profits that run educational programs like nutrition education, tutoring, adult education, etc.

Arts & Culture: Are there specific art or cultural resources that our community needs? Free movie screenings, performances, public art, cultural celebrations? Are there local artists, performers or musicians that could be showcased? Should the neighborhood have a space for cultural events? Put your sticker here if you’d like to see more opportunities for Arts & Culture in the community.

Information: What kind of information do we need in our neighborhood? Information about programming and services? Maps to orient you? Translated signage? Places to post information about community issues? Who should the information be targeted to? Put your sticker here if you think there should be more spaces that distribute information in the neighborhood.

Open Space: Do we need big grassy areas to have a picnic, barbeque, relax, play games, exercise, etc.? What about green spaces for community gardening? Put your sticker here if you think we need more open space in the neighborhood.

Social Services: Should there be spaces to accommodate social services? Some examples of social services might include health services, tenant workshops, family services, job training centers etc. Which services do we need more of in the community? Put your sticker here if you think we need more social service centers in the community.

Sports & Recreation: What kinds of sport or recreational activities would you like to do? Basketball, tai chi, hand-ball, running? Put your sticker here if you think we need more space for sports and recreational activities in the community.

Other: Are there other activities that are not shown here that you would like to do in your neighborhood? Put your sticker here if have other ideas of what is needed in your community, and be ready to describe your ideas to the rest of the group.

Tool: 3.14 Our Neighborhood Activity Chart—Businesses

Food & Dining

Entertainment

Shopping

Sports & Recreation

Other







Category Descriptions—Businesses

Food and Dining: What kinds of food vendors would you like to see in your community? Where would you eat or buy food? At a noodle cart, a kiosk, a café or a fancy restaurant? Should there be greenmarkets, or fruit and vegetable stands? If you think there should be more food and dining options in the neighborhood put your dollars here.

Entertainment: What about bars and clubs? Should there be nightlife in your neighborhood? If so what types of nightlife? Put your dollars here if you’d like to see more entertainment in your neighborhood.

Shopping: What kind of shopping would you like to do in your neighborhood? Should there be retail stores, small businesses, big box stores, or discount stores? Put your dollars here if you’d like there to be more shops and shopping centers in your community.

Sports and Recreation: What kind of sports and recreational services would you be willing to pay for?  Bike/boat rentals? Mini-golf? Put your dollars here if you’d like to see more sports/recreation related businesses in the neighborhood.

Other: What other business might you like to see in your neighborhood that is not represented here? Put your dollars here if you have another type of business you’d like to see in the community. Be prepared to share your thoughts with the group.

Case Study: 3.7 Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision: Policy Platform

Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision

Background on Organization and Issue

In May of 2014, the Mayor’s office in New York City released a detailed housing plan with the goal to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years. This would occur largely through the rezoning of 15 neighborhoods to facilitate construction of new housing. Later that year, it was announced that part of the South Bronx, along Jerome Avenue, had been selected as a neighborhood being studied for rezoning.

The area selected by the City is mostly industrial and commercially zoned land. It is also in the poorest urban congressional district in the country, where the average income for a family of 4 is $25,000. Given the history of harassment and exploitation of tenants in this area and because most residents are severely rent burdened, many community members were concerned that rezoning and construction would lead to displacement.

Fearing displacement and loss of neighborhood identity and culture, community members and organizations came together over the next few months to form the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision, in order to develop a platform for rezoning in the South Bronx that is led by community needs rather than by developers seeking profits. Through town halls, community visioning sessions, and surveying community members, the coalition involved over 1,500 community members who were able to give their input into the process. The Coalition came up with four principles to guide the rezoning process:

  1. Strong anti-harassment & anti-displacement policies for residential and commercial tenants
  2. Real affordable housing
  3. Good jobs and local hire
  4. Real community participation

The result of these efforts was the creation of a policy platform which outlines how the principles chosen by the community to guide the rezoning process could be translated into actionable mechanisms. This policy platform has helped mobilized community members to campaign for community-driven rezoning that would favor the needs of community members already living and working in the area to be rezoned.

Below is a description of the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision’s participatory action research and community engagement process based on the Participatory Action Research guiding framework (see Tools 2.1 and 2.2).

WHAT…

Were the organizing goals connected to this research?

  • Build a strong base of residents who will be affected by rezoning, and help develop leadership roles within the coalition’s steering committee;
  • Develop a community-driven vision for how rezoning in the South Bronx can be inclusive and transparent;
  • Develop concrete policy recommendations related to the rezoning rooted in the needs and priorities of low-income Bronx residents;
  • Ensure that those impacted by the rezoning have a voice in shaping the future of the community.

 

Overall questions did the Bronx Coalition want to answer through their research?

  • What are the hopes, needs and concerns of residents and business owners in the Bronx?
  • What do low-income people of color that live in the South Bronx want to see happen to their neighborhood?
  • What are the principles that should guide rezoning according to community members in the Bronx?
  • What are the mechanisms by which community residents can protect low-income people of color and ensure that neighborhood changes benefit these residents?

 

WHY…

Is this research useful or important for the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision?

  • Historically, rezoning processes in New York City have led to real estate speculation, displacement of long-time residents and gentrification. As the poorest urban congressional district in the country, low-income Bronx residents are particularly vulnerable to these forces. The research arms the coalition with concrete data and specific policy recommendations that they can use to organize and advocate for their community during and after the rezoning.

 

WHO…

Are the Stakeholders in this Issue?

  • Low-income people of color, rent stabilized tenants, union workers, and small business owners in the South Bronx in danger of being pushed out of their neighborhood.

 

Is the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision trying to influence?

  • The Mayor’s Office, specifically the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the City Planning Commission (CPC), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Bronx Community Boards 4 and 5, the Bronx Borough President, the City Council, particularly the City Council Speaker and Council Member Vanessa Gibson, all who have some degree of power into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process.

HOW…

Did the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision gather information (what methods did they use)?

  • A community forum and four community visioning sessions, each of which was attended by 100-150 community residents. Residents were able to give input and brainstorm solutions to problems in the community;
  • Over 500 surveys were collected about people’s concerns and hopes for rezoning;
  • Surveys of auto workers that own and work in the area slated for rezoning;
  • Background research about policy mechanisms and land use policy in other neighborhoods across NYC and across the country.

 

Did Research support the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision’s organizing efforts?

  • The Policy Platform condensed the priorities and recommendations of the community;
  • The visioning sessions and surveys educated and mobilized community members around the rezoning process;
  • The platform was released at a large public forum with over 700 community members;
  • Several items from the platform are being used to develop organizing campaigns to win concrete protections or improvements for community members.