Everybody knows “that side of town” or “that neighborhood.” Some people think these areas should be avoided. However, neighborhood revitalization begins with the belief that people living in challenging areas have inherent dignity and value, deserve access to a quality of life on par with others, and are the solution themselves.
Neighborhood revitalization draws out the best of what it means to be a good neighbor and part of a community. Imagine a city where every neighborhood is known for positive energy and strong relationships. Places in which anyone would choose to live, work, worship, and play. While this vision may seem unattainable, we believe it is a vision worth pursuing precisely because of the very real people that live in these neighborhoods. They are people with names, talents, hopes, and dreams. When they are connected and resourced, they have the power and ability to live an abundant life.
What a wonderful vision! However, we cannot ignore the reality that revitalizing a neighborhood is difficult and challenging. It is a process that takes years of focused investment to see transformational change. Fortunately, there are methods and best practices in action throughout our country and even in neighborhoods close to us. We can learn, implement, and adjust continually to make the biggest impact and be responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us.
The neighborhood revitalization process made simple is: Listen, Align, Act, Measure, Repeat.
- Listen – This crucial first step recognizes that residents are the experts of their neighborhood. Based on their collective time, talent, and resources, most wants and needs can be identified by them – when given the opportunity to be heard.
- Align – After listening, different priorities emerge. Alignment comes when all voices within a community are combined then partner organizations and leaders are brought in to fill gaps. This fundamental step brings unity and focus to neighborhood efforts.
- Act – Listening and talking is meaningless unless vision becomes reality. Action must happen – both to build the spirits of neighbors in under resourced areas and to bring credibility to the claim that change is within reach.
- Measure – Failing is criticized too harshly. Failing is acceptable – as long as you measure, adjust, and try again! Measuring is essential to neighborhood revitalization. It tells us if our investments of time, talent, and resources are making the difference we hoped to make.
That’s neighborhood revitalization: Listen, Align, Act, Measure, Repeat! Starting with the inherent dignity and value of neighbors, knowing they have the time/talent/resources to bring lasting change to their neighborhood, and bringing in help to cover gaps and build bridges. We hope you will join us in this exciting work of neighborhood revitalization that leads to Neighbors Loved. Community Restored. Hope Renewed.