Bringing people together to make things better

in Asset-Based Community Development, community stories

15th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Brian Fier is involved in community building and development. He is interested in information dissemination, collaboration, and improving communities. Additionally, he is developing tools for connecting people to each other and to information with the intention of helping improve communities and people’s lives. One such project is Campus Dakota (@CampusDakota) where he is the President and Community Developer. Brian has a master’s and bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University; his coursework was focused on the social sciences. He is also a Firefighter and Paramedic Specialist with Bettendorf Fire Rescue, and Flotilla Staff Officer in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

[Brian is the latest Blockhead to sign up to run this site, and this is his first post. Welcome aboard, Officer Fier. - Eds]

Do you want to bring people together to make things better, but don’t know how to go about it? The Community Tool Box offers detailed resources related to creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships. The resource is divided into the six areas listed below. Each section provides easy to follow information and tools for getting started on tackling an issue.

Outline for Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

This section provides a broad overview on creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships. It provides questions to consider, steps to take, ideas to ponder, and more. If you do not know where to start, start with this section and continue from there.

Outline with links to tools

Expanding beyond the outline from the previous section, this section provides many links to other resources that will help you consider different things as you work to build and maintain coalitions and partnerships.

How-to Information on Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

If you are looking for a direct how-to this is the place for you.

Examples of Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

Take a look at the following four examples of how real people and organizations went about building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships:

Quick Tips and Tools for doing this work

Do you want some quick tips and tools? Check out:

Links to other online resources for Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

Want more resources? Check out these links.

Bringing Community Leaders Together – A Step-by-Step Guide on LikeMinded

in Asset-Based Community Development, community stories

One of the huge benefits of adopting “community building” as a hobby is that from time to time, you get to volunteer to work with real organizers. Early this year, I started to help the Council of Acorn Residents on a project they hoped would bring leaders and orgs in West Oakland more closely together. Dubbed “Solutions Salons”, the idea was to get community leaders together – with food, drink, music, and conversation – and hope something good would come of that. Like the salons of the Enlightenment, but without the hoopskirts. Initial results have been encouraging (see Oakland Local article reprinted with permission below).

The residents wanted to document the process we’re going through, so if you’d want to try it in your own neighborhood, you’d have a model you can use and improve upon. We created a project on LikeMinded called (very modestly) “Bringing Community Leaders Together – A Step-by-Step Guide“. It includes a timeline, and sample invitations, evaluations, surveys, and other docs that can give you a head start. This process has just begun, and we welcome your ideas on how to move it forward.

If you haven’t heard of LikeMinded, it’s the new platform Craigslist Foundation and the Knight Foundation launched last month, where people can share stories about what’s working to help improve communities. You can read more press reports about it here.

We’ll get into this in more detail during our “Someone’s Done That Already: the Best Practice of Using Best Practices” session of the June 2 Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp on Empowering Communities at UCSF.

Community groups make connection in West Oakland

by Jennifer Inez Ward (@oaklandscene), Oakland Local (@oaklandlocal)

Residents, community organizations and business owners gathered at the Acorn Town Center and Courtyards late last week to discuss better ways of networking and communicating as part of the Solutions Salon for West Oakland Leaders.

The event was sponsored by the Council of Acorn Residents and was the second meeting held to specifically look at new ways West Oaklanders can come together. Organizers said they wanted participants to have an opportunity to brainstorm ideas about events or projects that can foster stronger ties in the community (photos).

BRIDGE Housing and The John Stewart Company also co-sponsored the salon, which featured a wide array of West Oakland groups. Participants at the meeting included members of The Crucible, People’s Grocery and the Alameda County Youth Development office. Educators also were at the gathering including the head of the soon to open charter school, Vincent Academy.

Many organization representatives and business owners said one of the biggest challenges (more…)

KaBOOM! Playground Build in West Oakland

in Asset-Based Community Development, community stories

Some of my pictures, videos and tweets from the KaBOOM! Playground Build Day at Wade Johnson Park and the Oakland School Police HQ, Acorn & Lower Bottoms neighborhoods, West Oakland.

From an introduction by Carletta Starks, one of the principal organizers of the event:  Why Wade Johnson Park: OUSD Police Services Chief, Pete Sarna, recognized that the children in the area did not have a playground or other activities to keep them busy, and identified Wade Johnson as a Park that could be developed for the children in the area. Chief Sarna contacted KaBOOM! and worked with the City of Oakland Redevelopment Agency to get accepted as a site for a KaBOOM! Project. The site was approved, and KaBOOM! and its funding partner, Foresters, began the process that led up to Build Day.

Who is KaBOOM!: KaBOOM! is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving play and fighting the Play Deficit by ensuring that every child has a great place to play within walking distance.

Live tweets with pics here: scroll down to April 30, from 8AM to 3PM

Some Photos

Some Video

See also: KaBOOM! – Empowering Neighborhoods and Restoring Play; Foresters post-event press release; More photos, from Yuan Zhu.

“Solutions Salon” Brings West Oakland Community Together

in Asset-Based Community Development, community stories

OAKLAND, CA, March 11, 2011 – Lyn Hikida – More than 40 people participated in a solutions-oriented community meeting hosted in West Oakland last Thursday by the Acorn Residents Council, BRIDGE Housing, and The John Stewart Company.

The “Solutions Salon” attracted representatives from 20 nonprofit organizations and the Oakland City Council, Oakland Housing Authority, the Oakland Police Department and the Oakland Unified School District. Attendees divided into small groups to discuss 2011 plans, the challenges they face, and ways they can work together to overcome those challenges.

“The response was fantastic,” said Janet Patterson, Chairman of the Acorn Residents Council. “People networked, shared resources and began to build better connections within the community.”

Many of the conversations centered on a theme of encouraging and maintaining stronger involvement by people who live in West Oakland, including the residents of the Town Center & Courtyards at Acorn.

Participant and longtime West Oakland resident Nakia Linzie-Shavers is a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates, which serves foster children in Alameda County. “It was useful to learn about the range of services in the area,” she said.

“For me, the event opened up more avenues for other types of programs that we can support for residents,” added Damita Barbee, President of St. Paul Economic Empowerment Development Corp., “which, hopefully, will result in increasing the number of lives we can empower and enrich.”

Shaun Tai, Executive Director of Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center, was struck by the diversity of participants, leadership and resources. “What I gained was a sense of hope that with more events like the Solutions Salon, there will be things that we can act upon together as a cohesive community,” he said. “We can’t just keep talking; there needs to be action.”

One of the next steps, according to Patterson, will be the creation of a resource directory to facilitate access to programs and strengthen connections between the organizations that provide services.

To view photos from the event, visit:

AmeriCorps Member Revitalizes Neighborhood

in Asset-Based Community Development, community stories

via | Stories of Service: Profiles in Service: AmeriCorps Member Revitalizes Neighborhood.

By Fred Wong

On April 21, 2009, President Obama signed the Serve America Act into law – the most sweeping expansion of national service in a generation. To mark the one year anniversary, we are going to spotlight the stories of everyday service heroes who are transforming lives and local communities across the country. Here is Effy’s story.

Five years ago, Mika Community Development Corporation recruited its first AmeriCorps member in the Shalimar neighborhood of Costa Mesa, CA. Her name was Effy Sanchez. During that year Effy walked door to door in this neighborhood trying to discover what neighbors were interested in changing to improve their community. She listened over and over. Finally it was clear. The neighbors wanted their park back.

It was a tiny park. It had been taken over by drug users and gangs. It was riddled with paraphernalia dangerous to children. The park caused such fear in parents that they brought their children to school and back home holding their hands the whole way and they did not allow their children to leave the house.

Within a year, Effy organized a neighborhood committee. With the committee established, neighbors were able to collaborate to make the community safer. The neighbors arranged a new neighbor welcome program, organized meals for the sick, and established a trash clean up schedule for the elderly.

Eventually, Effy arranged for meetings with the Parks and Recreation Department to upgrade the park. She coached the committee members in negotiations with the department. Today they have their park back with lights that work and a new playground. It is a community center where residents interact. The committee has since moved on to other successes.

In her second year of service, Effy began walking and listening to the Maple neighborhood, a second target neighborhood. She organized a local citizens group to take responsibility for the neighborhood. The group’s greatest undertaking to date has been organizing and developing an after-school learning center to help students succeed. The group used its meager resources to rent a center (which was an apartment) and provide snacks and supervision. The group engaged church volunteers from a nearby supporting congregation to help operate the center.

Mika CDC has now been an AmeriCorps program four-and-a-half years and it is working in its fourth neighborhood. Costa Mesa is stronger and better because AmeriCorps members are teaching residents, churches, non-profits, and the city how to implement Asset Based Community Development principles and practices in their neighborhoods.

Learn more about AmeriCorps.