4 September, 2015
Reconnecting People

Reconnecting People | Once a property has been restored, Urban Homeworks works to connect neighbor to neighbor to create a livable, robust community with a strong sense of home. The result is a rich exchange between households that reweaves a sense of community through day-to-day activities.

Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:25

My Meeting was Hi-jacked

We sat down in the conference room facing West Broadway and – let me tell you – there are some funky things to observe from that window. Sometimes it’s just beautiful people looking in at their reflection, oblivious to the fact that we may be watching them from our tinted windows (lovely). A few weeks ago, it was a drum band of kids marching up the street, organized by NOC, letting the world know what they thought about minimum wage (challenging/inspiring). And…for some reason, the Boostmobile marketing team thought it a brilliant idea put out a waving mannequin that informs us every day about their cheap rates and unlimited minutes from its storefront (just weird).

eandinspectorAnyway, I sat down for an internal meeting with our Community Engagement Team when Lt. Friestleben (MPD) drove by with a box of cookies from the Cookie Cart. He caught our eye and, minutes later, walked into our meeting with the box, distributing cookies. A conversation ensued and, as it did, I realized that the sound bites he was getting from our Community Engagement team were invaluable. He was taking notes and the three of them started making connections about what they were seeing and hearing.

Shannon: “What about 1322 Davenport? I got a call from Amy..”
Me: “Who’s Amy?”
Shannon: “Our newest homeowner – her family just moved in last month. Anyway (to Lt. Friestleben), she was saying that the two houses on either side of their block - their house is in the middle - need some surveillance. The amount of weird traffic flowing in and out of there is not right… Can you guys put some beat cops out?”
Lt. Friestleben: “Yeah…there’ve been a lot of calls over there. We’ll look into it and make sure that area is safe – so you’re saying it’s 1322 Davenport?…”

The dialogue continued, they shared, and I sat witness to effective community engagement – of residents taking ownership of their own blocks and reporting suspicious activity to a team that has earned their trust. For years now, we’ve watched entire neighborhoods change because UHW neighbors will not stand for their kids having to walk past dangerous and vacant homes to get to their school busses.
The conversation ended with:

Ethropic: “So, you’ll be there tonight, Lt. Friestleben?”
Lt. Friestleben: “Of course – you’ve got my number.”

The meeting our Community Engagement Team had set up that night was the last of three established to create space for our residents to express their concerns and strengthen relationships with law enforcement.

Clearly, an alliance has been formed. A powerful one. And it’s one of many – I just happened to see it when it high-jacked a meeting of mine.

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