Last week, we welcomed a new AmeriCorps VISTA at NeighborLink, Robert Johnson! So that Bernie on a Journey will serve as an introduction to Robert and his role on our team! Meet Robert here —> https://youtu.be/-aCEsD7kN0A and look for his blogs!
In this week's Bernie on a Journey, Dan Baisden of the City of Fort Wayne's Planning department joined us to discuss the newly released Master Art Plan and what it took to get this started—> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgJQetxrYeg
In addition to having a new team member and staying involved in community events, I have been working to ensure the research project continues well. After we completed Phase 1, which can be found here https://www.nlfw.org/story/healthyneighborhoods, we reassessed how we could best continue into Phase 2. After doing research, resources and input from community members, we decided that Phase 2 would narrow our focus into 2 of the 5 neighborhoods we analyzed in Phase 1.
Hoagland-Masterson and Williams Woodland Park quickly stood out as the best areas to focus on:
Both neighborhoods are right on the cusp of downtown development, they are small enough for NeighborLink to engage effectively, they both have active neighborhood associations, and they have each expressed interest in collaborating with the other.
Since both neighborhoods were such a good fit for Phase 2, it was not hard to get neighborhood leadership to embrace the idea. But getting them onboard was only a piece of the process. We had to establish a process for Phase 2 that would create the outcomes and impacts that the neighborhoods desired. This part of the reason I have been so involved in the various neighborhood associations: I need to think like them and understand their needs.
My VISTA service started part way through Phase 1, so Phase 2 is really where I can build a process that reflects all that I have learned and experienced. But, as my mother always taught me, I need to begin with the end in mind. Thus, I've been planning my last 6 months and deliverables, to make sure I can leave the project and NeighborLink in a good state.I want to make sure that when I leave Neighborlink in June I will have built up their resources and capacity to move forward. In order to do that though, I have to break down big objectives and plans into small actionable steps.
To do this, I have employed a new piece of free software, Notion, that I would recommend to anyone! Using their thesis planning template, I am making my own project timeline and plan, where I can embed my ideas, to do lists, meeting notes and objectives. Notion has been extremely useful for me, additionally because it operates almost like lego pieces that can be moved or changed so I can reshape my plan as the project has been evolving and refocusing for the past few months.
The most exciting update on Phase 2 is that we have found a very user-friendly tool for getting parcel level data on property ownership and vacancy rates. The software, Landgrid.com, also allows people to import data and map it. Therefore, we can plot NeighborLink projects and see where they are concentrated, while seeing key information about the neighborhood. Check back next week for a more in-depth explanation of Phase 2 and our goals.