"Who Is Our Neighbor? : Week 6 Reflections"
One of our team’s assignments this summer has been to go out into the community and to get to know the neighbors and to connect them to the summer initiatives that have been birthed from our earlier community listening. Below are the reflections of our teammates who are all new to community development and some who are new to the neighborhood.
I really enjoy meeting new neighbors. It’s something that I never anticipated doing, much less enjoying. I remember meeting Mrs. Walker and how she opened herself up when meeting with us. It’s amazing how some neighbors light up when they see positive forces at work in the community!
It will be important for us to continue to reach and build relationships with our neighbors one at a time, showing consistency in our community work. After developing a relationship with a community member, they offered to have a front yard cook-out with the team. Hopefully, this will strengthen the relationship and begin to attract other community members. This would give us an opportunity to learn about them and their dreams for their community.
Honestly, I have to say, outreach has been the most productive when we went to meet the youth and the elderly in the community to get them involved in our events. I think my positive personality and my way with words made outreach more effective.
Outreach has been most productive when there are people actually out in the community. It has been less productive when there is no one around. I think outreach can be more effective if we go and knock on doors or if it is cooler outside.
For me, I think the event that was most effective was Summer Recreation. People responded the best when we gave out vegetables as we were promoting the food co-op. I felt that we connected on a deeper level with folks. I think when we give people gifts it opens the door for conversation. I think movie nights and cookouts will be the best ways to reach out to the community.
For outreach, we were told to go out and walk the neighborhood and meet seniors for our senior story project. We were given a 5 question survey and told to use this list of questions to inquire about the neighborhood. On the first day, I met Mr. Jordan Jr. He was mowing the yard for his father who had lived in the house for over 30 years. He started telling us about the neighborhood back then and how it has changed now. His story was interesting because he spoke about his experience with racism. Usually, I read about it in books, but I had never encountered it face to face. It was educational for me and I learned a lot.
Another day where outreach was productive was actually yesterday when we went to talk to Ms. Alice, who had lived in her house for over 40 years. She had been truly scarred by the neighborhood and the church but she did not mind sharing her story as well as her pain with us. Her story touched me. She welcomed us into her home and gave us water even though we were “connected” to a place that held bad memories for her. We, in turn, gave her some vegetables, which she was truly grateful and thankful for.
I also think outreach could be more productive if we spent more time with the people that live around here or perhaps connected some of the youth with the elderly. We could all learn from one another. I did.
When outreach was productive it was because we were excited about meeting people and when we made the activities feel important. I feel that it should be a community thing. Instead of just approaching them outside every week, maybe we should have a block party. Not everyone is responsive to strangers coming in their yard.
I believe that outreach was the most productive when we had items to give to the people we spoke to. I think that was the motivating factor for a lot of people. I think we should always come with something even if it’s just to show people.