An important change is taking place in our neighborhoods. Across Jamestown, more and more residents are leaving the sidelines and joining with neighbors to improve their corner of the city.
This movement accelerated in 2011. Members of Northside PRIDE continued their efforts to build confidence and camaraderie between Falconer Street and East Sixth Street by organizing events, bringing attention to key issues, and planning a park. In the Fairmount-McDaniel area, members of the Wild Westside held a block sale, threw a party, and worked with the city to get new trees planted.
On Lakeview Avenue, Forest Avenue, and West 13th Street, new neighborhood watch groups were organized, adding to more than a dozen existing groups that partner with police and work hard to improve the safety and attractiveness of their streets.
Meanwhile, neighborhood activists led volunteer clean-ups on Winsor Street and the Chadakoin River to remove blight and raise our expectations, and realized a vision of a revitalized playground in Roseland Park.
All of these efforts, led by neighbors, demonstrate the power of active collaborations between residents, institutions, and city government. Founded on participation, these partnerships are the cornerstones of revitalization. Step by step, they turn a vicious cycle of disinvestment into a virtuous cycle of reinvestment, giving people the confidence and encouragement to fix a porch, plant a garden, and talk to neighbors.
The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC) is working to seed and facilitate these partnerships through a number of new and experimental initiatives recommended in the city's neighborhood revitalization plan and by city residents.
Jamestown residents are invited by the Jamestown Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission to attend the reporting and planning event set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center, corner of Washington and Third streets. Light refreshments will be provided free-of-charge at 5 p.m.
The SPPC is a volunteer group which discusses and implements ideas about how to make Jamestown a more livable and vibrant community. Ideas are assigned to volunteer action teams who work to bring the ideas to reality.
Group members include representatives from private local industry and businesses, WCA Hospital, local churches, local foundations, private citizens, Jamestown Community College, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation, city government and the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. Commission members are seeking input from the public on next year's goals.
Wednesday's event will include short reports from the action teams on 2011 accomplishments, followed by break-out groups to help set future priorities for the commission. Action teams that will report include: the Jamestown Urban Design Plan, Neighborhood Initiatives, Education, Health Care, Diversity in Leadership and Regionalism.
The Renaissance Block Challenge began in 2011 to assist groups of neighbors with exterior home improvements, creating concentrated areas of visible reinvestment. The first four Renaissance Blocks have poured over $40,000 into repair and landscaping projects on Liberty, Lincoln, and Grant Streets and Royal Avenue. Pre-applications for the 2012 Renaissance Block Challenge are now available at the JRC's website.
GROW Jamestown, an effort to encourage gardening and landscaping, also began in 2011 by recognizing nearly 200 great gardens-nominated by the public-that add value to homes and streets. This effort will expand this year into new directions and partnerships, from community gardening to the enhancement of neighborhood gateways.
Empowering residents with vital information in accessible formats-how to plant a tree, throw a block party, report code violations, start a neighborhood organization-is a priority in 2012. So too are finding ways to hasten the demolition of dilapidated homes, ensuring that vacant buildings are properly monitored, and expanding litter and graffiti removal activities.
Keeping neighborhoods healthy, or returning them to health, is an ongoing process that requires constant stewardship and the testing of new ideas. As more Jamestowners contribute their energy and imagination, it's hard not to be encouraged and inspired.