November 16, 2017, IUSB "The Grill"
Mr. Conrad Damian, SOAR President (Southeast Organized Area Residents)
Ms. Sara Boukdad, EnFocus Consultant
Ms. Kim Clowers, Founder of Fremont Youth Foundation
Ms. Nia Okereke, Founder of Young Royalty
Moderators and Sponsors:
Dr. Elizabeth Bennion-Turba, American Democracy Project & IUSB Political Science Club
Ms. Diana Hess, Neighborhood Resources Connection
Ms. Hess defines Neighborhood Assets as a combination of Associations, Institutions, Land, Exchanges and Residents
Ms. Kim Clowers became active after the shooting deaths of three teens in her area and wanting a safer neighborhood for her own children.
It started with a small BBQ and expanded to a Block Party with 600 people and "Shakesphere in the Streets" with 300 people.
The Fremont Youth Foundation focuses on Literacy. They have received books from Better World Books and they are providing literacy toys for tots all year around.
In working with the Venue, Arts and Parks, they gave input on the $147K upgrade to the Freemont park which included a splash pad, wheelchair accessibility, a "Peace Park" to remember those killed and a speed bump to protect the children.
She wants kids to know there is more to life than basketball and music.
Juvenile Justice has dropped their literacy program.
Ms. Nia Okereke, age 23, founded "Young Royalty" to empower black youth to see themselves as Kings and Queens and not as slaves.
She descibes slavery as a "blip in history" and wants them to focus on a broader history.
Her goal is to fill in the cultural gaps with high esteem and kindness, while desolving the separation from wanting better for themselves.
She feels it is important to change their economic priorities from $300 shoes to eating healthy and valuing themselves.
Part of her program included the "7 Principles of Kwanza".
Mr. Conrad Damian became involved when he saw the City making changes WITHOUT the input of the residents in the neighborhood in creation of the "Southeast Neighborhood Master Plan".
They met for 5 Tuesdays and decided to create SOAR (Southeast Organized Area Residents). They asked residents 2 questions:
"What do you like about the SE Neighborhood?" Answers: Location, Diversity and Safe
"What should we improve?" Answers: Curbs & Sidewalks, Vacant Lots (426 of them), Houses and Safety
466 Works is a Neighborhood Corporation buidling two homes.
They enjoy having Lang Lab and "Art in our Park".
Lighting has increased and they are working more closely with the EnFocus Interns to give resident input.
There are 16 people who have lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years that have valuable insight and wisdom about the area.
Ms. Sara Boukdad, a member of the Society of Female Engineers at Notre Dame says this project is a "Sandbox of Innovation" which includes a Native Tree Nursery to provide the City with lower cost trees to plant, analyzing soil for best uses, rain gardens and the use of Arch GIS to map projects.
Notre Dame and other schools provide 30 interns for 8 and 10 week programs. They use a "Design Thinking Model".
There are currently 409 vacant lots. Some lots have been purchased and split bewteen neighbors to give them bigger lots. Other lots have been used for rain gardens.
The Bowman Creek Project included the 2 mile stretch of it. Some of it is underground and contamination was the reason for starting the project.
There is also study to reduce the flooding of basements and sewers in the area with storm water management.
466 Works is a non-profit started by the Mount Carmel Baptist Church to improve the area around them. Their Community Development Corporation has gotten a block grant for $200K and is building 2 houses.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS INCLUDED:
* Programs for Goals and Anger Management and Anti-bullying may further help stear kids away from a violent lifestyle.
* The literacy program could be enhanced by taking the kids on field trips so they could experience and see other lifestyles
* There is a study of 11 Impact Areas which include evaluating the needs of Seniors in the LaSalle Area
For more meetings and articles: #MichianaObserver
Citizens attending community events to inform other Citizens.