I think it’s time to get the Community Block Club back together.”
Springville, New York In February 2022, the first community event was held, where residents and key project stakeholders toured the neighborhood playing games together to build trust and understand each other on a different level. This event also helped JKLA and the students meet residents and get a better sense of the community from them. From this meeting and their own research, students gathered demographics and information about the context of the neighborhood and put together their own site analysis.
In March 2022, the second community event was hosted at the library and we engaged a community tufting organization to participate. Tufting is a type of textile manufacturing or needlework. The University students were able to present their site analysis of the neighborhood which included information about the condition of sidewalks, vacant lots, buildings, and streets. After the presentations, the community was led through several image games and collaging exercises which included opportunities to engage in tufting. Together this led to a very unique storytelling opportunity specific to Bailey Green.
In April 2022, the third community event took place in one of the parcels as a community play event where residents were able to try on some ideas they had about what the site could be. Residents collaged outside then brought their collages to life by creating different landscape, recreation, and architectural elements out of hula hoops, cardboard boxes, and pool noodles and placed them around the site trying on different organizational strategies.
The residents not only were able to play while building but also were able to get a real sense of how different elements fit in their community. The students played along with them in order to incorporate their ideas to present at the May community event. One of the ideas that residents continued to express was the idea of a tool lending library where the community could borrow tools to utilize for their personal and community projects. In response, we planned a day for kids to play with tools and scraps of materials to coincide with the fifth and final community event of the semester.
Through community support the May event grew not only to include the kids tool play day but a day filled with many community partners taking part. It included a food pantry giveaway, a toy giveaway, bicycle raffles, seedling giveaway, as well as a vegan parfait crafting table. Students shared their proposed designs with the community and gathered feedback. Results from the community engagement thus far include new relationships between residents and organizations, rekindling of old relationships and a good picture of community projects to come. Current progress is a list of community projects that await further funding.
The weekend following the May community event, there was a shooting in Buffalo, just a few blocks away. The design team reached out immediately
to ascertain whether there was a way to continue the community engagement throughout the summer. It was decided that they would share easily implemented ideas at the Bailey Green days presented by HARMAC in the month of June. These ideas would then be created together with the community in July and August. It was critical to stay connected through the summer months, and the shooting catalyzed that even further.
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