Flower Power

Bethany Dudley – Requip

By Rita Feikema

Although the day was cold and rainy, turnout was great for a day of neighborhood beautification on the north side of Chicago. I work with many different demographics in the Rogers Park neighborhood, and I’d spent several months learning about the felt needs of our neighbors, as well as the strengths that already exist in our community. One idea that came through loud and clear was the desire to beautify our streets. Neighbors wanted a way to feel ownership and responsibility in our community.

So one Saturday, we got together a group of volunteers to plant flowers along the sidewalks of two major streets.  These were not just any flowers. They were seedlings that had been growing in the greenhouse at Gale Academy, a local public school, for months.

They had been tended by student volunteers from Rogers Park, who attended Loyola or Northwestern.   And, these were not just any volunteers. Members of the Rogers Park Garden Group shared their expertise on how to transplant these seedlings into the ground. College students who were interning in they city provided muscle and energy as they learned about one of the vibrant neighborhoods in Chicago. A group of moms who were looking for opportunities to volunteer in the community brought their kids. And members of Many Peoples Church came with coffee and cookies to warm us up.

It’s incredible how a little thing like planting flowers can suddenly make a neighborhood seem friendlier. Everyone walking by wanted to know what we were doing, or complimented us on making the street more welcoming. Conversation – between passersby and volunteers, between college students and kids, between expert gardeners and novices – that never would have otherwise taken place flowed unforced.  And of course, now Rogers Park enjoys more pleasant, beautiful streetscapes.

Relationship Matters

Jim Schepers - The Other Way Ministries 

Three community members move from volunteer status to employed volunteer status.

These are difficult days in our West side of Grand Rapids community.  Housing values have cratered.  Long-term neighborhood businesses are closing.  Unemployment has soared, particularly for our community members of color.  And so, it is particularly delightful when hard work and opportunity come together for those who care enough about their neighborhood to stay involved in the work of community development.

We had just such an experience this past month, when three of our regular community volunteers were able to take advantage of an employment opportunity and move from simple volunteer status to employed volunteer status.  The path to this new status was through relationships developed through their community volunteering. This past month, they collectively took over the landscaping duties for the several properties owned and operated by The Other Way Ministries.

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The Church of the City is Open to Learning About ABCD

Jim Moynihan – One Church

Pictured from left to right are Juan, from the City of Hamptonʼs Social Services

Department, Pastor Steve Edwards who started Street Church in the Harbor Square Apartments in downtown Hampton, Pastor Charles Cheek, Chairman of the Board of H.E.L.P., Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings and Provisions – a ministry to the homeless, and Pastor Jim Moynihan, founder of One Church.

The Street Church outreach to the Harbor Square apartments has been well received by many of the churches in the downtown area. The pastors of these churches are meeting monthly for fellowship and to plan their collaborative ministry efforts. The ABCD model was shared with them over the summer and was well received.

The picture to the right shows two local ministries providing free haircuts and clothing during one of the Sunday evening Street Church services. We are getting to know one another as well as the residents of the apartment complex.

The four men above along with Pastor Larry Gibson from Hamptonʼs First Baptist Church conducted surveys in the apartment complex over a two-week period in late August following a Vacation Bible School provided by the ministers group in July. We are coordinating follow up convening meetings with the residents over the next few weeks.

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Rear View Mirror Check

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

True success comes when the community is the driving force behind change.

Several months ago Jay Van Groningen from Communities First Association taught a three day intensive workshop on Asset Based Community Development.  One question Jay asked us over and over again is “When you look in the rear view mirror, do you see a community transformation story?”

This week we wrapped up our 2010-11 AmeriCorps service year and I had a chance to look in the rear view mirror.  I wrote a post on the Embrace Richmond blog which chronologically highlighted the achievements of our team this past year.  I also included some outcomes numbers for the year in our newsletter.  Below is a summary

We provided positions for 31 AmeriCorps members, 14 of which were homeless or at-risk with barriers to employment.  75% of our members successfully completed their term of service and all the graduating members either enrolled for another term of service, entered college or moved into permanent employment.

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The Journey at AACRC

Kimi Zimmerman – Community enCompass

For me, this is a story of hope…hope that the church can become what/who God intended it to be from the start. A place of learning, a place of growing, a place of acceptance, respect and love, and most importantly a place where anyone can belong because it is a community of people who care about each other. I am excited that this church that has been in existence for over a hundred is willing to say, “we need to change if we want to make a difference.” It gives me hope to work with a church that is willing to ask questions rather than give answers.

Allen Avenue CRC was ready for a change and wanted to become involved in our community in a different way than we had been in the past. However, we were unsure what that change was going to look like before being introduced to Asset Based Community Development earlier this year. After a few months, we have started to see a shift in the way that we think about and relate to our neighbors and the neighborhood. In the past, the statistics of this area have resulted in a skewed perception of the Angell neighborhood. Our opinions had been clouded by the things we were reading and hearing about concerning the crime rates, drug trafficking, violence, high rates of unemployment, and so forth.We had lost touch of the good things that were going on in our neighborhood and the strengths and assets already existing within it. Even more, we stopped knowing who are neighbors really were.

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Three New Orleans Youth Strive to Make a Difference

Kevin Kieschnick – LINC New Orleans

To commemorate the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, neighbors, church members, and AmeriCorps members came together to better their community through service. Community Development at its Finest: 

September 9, 2011
Contact: Laura Brenner at 504-656-4025

New Orleans, LA: It’s a beautiful Saturday morning; the sun is shining, perfect weather for basketball, taking a run, or sleeping the day away.  Which is exactly what this eclectic group of people would be doing, if not for the common goal that brought them together: strengthening the community. To commemorate the 6th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall, City Year New Orleans partnered with the Bywater Neighborhood Association in a day long beautification initiative.  Communities First Association partner, LINCNewOrleans heard about this great collaboration and wanted to strengthen the effort.

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Meet Phil Hissom, Another New CFA Member

Another new member has joined CFA! Phil Hissom also works with the Polis Institute using Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) to improve the cities of Orlando, FL and Atlanta, GA. Welcome Phil! Go to Phil’s members page for more information.

Phil Hissom’s Member Page


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