Last year two of Community Housing of Wyandotte County’s (CHWC) neighborhoods achieved their Quality of Life Goals set forth in the Neighborhoods Now program. CHWC has built affordable housing, provided Home Buyer education and conducted a Community Building and Engagement program lead by the Community Organizer and the ART SQUAD, a group of neighborhood youth that use ART and creative thinking to address neighborhood concerns, creating community spaces for residents to meet, mingle and learn.
The ART SQUAD goes to Hollywood!
Actually they didn’t but I did go to the NeighborWorks Conference in Los Angeles last month to give a presentation about CHWC’s Art Squad and all the wonderful things they do for our neighborhood but lets start from the beginning.
It all started nearly 4 years ago when I took the Community Organizer job at Community Housing of Wyandotte County here in Kansas City, Kansas. My goal from the first day was to engage youth in our community through the Arts and to help them use Art as a tool to engage their community. First there were after school Art classes about creativity, technology and self-expression. We started an Art club and quickly had a small following.
Just returned from a 3 day visit to Philadelphia by way of a program sponsored by NeighborWorks America. It’s a peer to peer site visit to learn more about how other organizations operate. Some organizations function more like construction companies or property managers providing affordable housing to urban and rural populations that are otherwise underserved primarily because of their location or their per capita income. I chose the New Kensington Community Development Corporation(NKCDC) in Philadelphia because of the neighborhoods they represent and their emphasis on community organizing.
Ever wonder about why you feel more comfortable in some places then in others? Why some neighborhoods feel more friendly or safe then others? Why politicians always have pictures of flags, babies, and seniors on their brochures? Your favorite date place has soft lights, maybe candles and friendly service? Offices have cubicles or some churches smell of incenses, or even why policemen wear uniforms. Its all about creating an environment, establishing a sense of order, who the players are and what their role is.