Friday, March 10, 2017

In Search of a Model for Building a Better Neighborhood

By Jon Dunnemann

Houston – Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

Neighborhood Centers illustrates what it means to embrace democratic change and build a new work force — a new America — at metropolitan scale,” says Bruce Katz, a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding director of its Metropolitan Policy Program.

When you are fortunate to find a good working model in the field, one that you can cluster additional examples of positive change and success around, then I think that it absolutely makes total sense to learn how to effectively replicate it.

At the top of my bucket list this year is hopefully getting the opportunity to meet with Angela Blanchard, the Neighborhood Centers Inc president and chief executive officer for the past two decades to learn how best to listen fully to community residents and then to appropriately respond to their important stated needs regarding what they would like to see occur in the spaces where they live, work, and play. In other words, what does their community most wish to be known for? Also, what would they like to see accomplished in the neighborhood?

Community development isn’t a quick fix. It’s hard work and it takes time. But what’s happening in Houston, Atlanta and elsewhere shows that it’s worth doing.

Neighborhood Centers, is a Houston nonprofit that grew out of the settlement house movement, and has been around since 1907.