The initiative “Increasing Neighborhood Association Participation” relates to the MAP Initiative 2, “Develop materials and expertise to help neighborhoods organize, identify and train emerging leaders and connect them with resources in the larger community.” In order to achieve greater organization and the implementation of strategies, participation from residents is essential. TPA will succeed in achieving the goals presented in the neighborhood plan only with greater involvement in the neighborhood association.
This initiative is based upon surveys and discussions at the February 2016, neighborhood meeting, in which attendance was low and residents expressed concern for consistent poor involvement among community members.
Surveys distributed throughout the neighborhood and the growing presence of a neighborhood Facebook page have brought in a small handful of participants in recent meetings. However, more could be done to increase neighborhood participation. The strengthening of participation in the Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association (TPANA) will lead to better relationships and action for change in the community. Without active participation in the neighborhood association, this plan and the accompanying initiatives will not produce the change that the neighborhood desires.
While many strategies to increase participation might help the TPANA, the most primary and simplest strategy is the formation of committees for each goal group, led by the current members of the neighborhood association.
The elements of this plan are broad enough to warrant the establishment of committees for each goal group. The greatest task for each committee leader will be to recruit neighborhood residents to become active in the neighborhood association through involvement in a committee. Individual committee leaders may feel greater obligation to encourage their neighbors’ participation in the TPANA as the current participants take ownership of their respective committees. The residents have to be the ones making changes, and the best way to encourage this is to create leadership roles within the neighborhood association.
In future neighborhood association meetings, the president and meeting members could elect leaders of each committee. Alongside the neighborhood action plan, perhaps one committee can represent each of the five goal groups forming the umbrella of all community initiatives. Thus, there will be five committee leaders in charge of the initiatives falling under Art and Business, Beautification, Infrastructure, Resident Wellness, and Well Being. The committee leaders, then, will have their first task be to identify and recruit 4-6 more neighborhood residents to join them as part of the committee. This organizing process should occur before the September 2016 TPANA meeting.
For guidance regarding the identification of committee leaders and the recruitment of new members, residents are encouraged to communicate with Ball State Building Better Neighborhoods, as well as to contact other neighborhood associations throughout Muncie.
Case Study – Whitely Neighborhood Association
The Whitely Neighborhood Association is active and highly participatory in Muncie. Just like TPA, Whitely worked alongside the Ball State Urban Planning Department to create a neighborhood action plan in 2011. This plan included a number of various goal groups and initiatives produced in the same way those from TPA have been: from neighborhood meetings and surveys distributed to the community.
Whitely organized its goal groups into seven (7) goal groups, each with its own committee: Beautification and Infrastructure; Community Safety and Security; Education and Health; Employment and Entrepreneurship; Neighborhood Pride and Event Planning; Resource Development and Fundraising; and Marketing and Public Relations. All of the neighborhood’s ongoing initiatives fit into one of these seven community goals. As a result of this organization, Whitley has been able to produce tangible positive changes to their neighborhood since the induction of their neighborhood action plan in 2011. In fact, they detail their specific accomplishments in a yearly “Accomplishments in Review” document for each year since 2011.
Whitely models the organizational framework necessary to envision, create, and implement focused strategies for neighborhood development. This model can be replicated by TPA through the increase in public participating resulting from the establishment of committees for each goal group identified in the TPANAP.
Building Better Neighborhoods
125 E. Charles St.
Muncie, IN 47305
Phone: (765) 717-9198
Contact: Heather Williams, Director