Thursday, January 23, 2014

Community Council and Public Innovation

As mentioned in the "Public Innovation and the North Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries" post, we have been using some of the methods developed by the Harwood Institute to gather public knowledge about the communities we serving.  This is a very basic and elementary start to the process.

As a beginning exercise (ragged start activity) at the first NPNL Community Council, I distributed Harwood Institute community questionnaires.  Not everyone completed one, but for the folks that did, I think there is some valuable and useful information.  Below is a compilation of that questionnaire. As we gather more information, we will begin to look at the information gathered, and try to tailor our services in a way that can bring about a transformation in the community, however small.

“Community” Survey – Seven respondents
       What kind of community do you want to live in?
           There were two general themes to this question plus a specific mention of the library.
1.       Resources to “uplift and educate the community.”
·         Social Capital that can build and equip its residents
2.       Safety
·         Fewer bars and stop-n-go’s.  More sit-down restaurants, bakeries and fresh foods
·         People know and look out for each other
·         A place where children and teens have constructive outlets and learn to give back to their community
·         Economic stability
3.       Library – to be open and clean and demonstrate via its looks they care about our community.
2.       Why is that important to you?
·         Several people mentioned they live in the area and have a vested interest.  They want a suitable environment for future residents.  Two people mentioned a dramatic negative change in their community in recent years.
3.       How is that different from how you see things now?
·         One person sees growth, but feels the community on a whole is “being pushed out of the process by lack of communication”
·         Another sees people keeping to themselves and not getting involved in community affairs.
·         Violence, ignorance and no literacy are factors.
4.       What are some of the things that need to happen to create that kind of change?
·         Communication, inclusion, equity, respect, tolerance
·         Great leaders, real programs (not a lot of lip service)
·         Resources allocated to support local organizations that focus on neighborhood/community empowerment.  And, have a record of success and commitment
·         Computer classes, job search classes, math club or classes
**Tomorrow’s engineers and technicians need math & science, AND library help!
·         More community meetings and events to draw attention to problems and solutions
·         Matching funds participation from many of the different business and corporations
·         Individuals (grass roots advocates), community based organizations should, on a continuum meet/leverage resources

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