FutureHeights launches community-building initiative on April 21

Bill Traynor

What do you love about your neighborhood? What does your neighborhood need to make it a better place for you and your neighbors?

On April 21, FutureHeights, the nonprofit community group that publishes the Heights Observer, will announce a new opportunity for Cleveland Heights residents to learn more about their neighborhoods and learn how to use community resources to work collaboratively to make their neighborhoods better: the Community Capacity-Building Program.

FutureHeights will make the announcement at its annual meeting on Tuesday, April 21. Bill Traynor, a nationally known community development expert will give the keynote address.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. at Motorcars Honda, 2953 Mayfield Road. Attendees will also get a chance to see Motorcars’ solar canopy installation, which the company says will provide up to 70 percent of its energy needs, and hear about other planned investments along the Mayfield Road corridor.

“Our vision is to have vibrant neighborhoods that have increased resilience through grassroots resident participation in civic life,” said Richard Stewart, president of the FutureHeights board of directors. “The city faces many challenges, but by building upon the assets we already have—including the many fantastic, talented people with diverse backgrounds who call the Heights home—we can find innovative solutions to these challenges and build the kind of community that all of us want to live, work and play in.”

Last fall, CH City Council recommended the FutureHeights Community Capacity-Building Program for funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for 2015.

Since then, the organization has been working hard to raise additional funds for the program, which will consist of a series of workshops and mini-sessions for residents, one-on-one coaching for neighborhood leaders, and a mini-grants program to help seed-fund neighborhood-specific projects.

The workshops will be held on Sundays, 3–5 p.m., on May 3 and 17, and June 14 and 28. Applications to participate in the program will be available at the meeting and on the FutureHeights website beginning April 15.

As part of the program, FutureHeights will hire a Community Builder, a new full-time role within the organization, who will help Heights communities identify and leverage their many assets, foster engagement of diverse stakeholders in creating thriving neighborhoods, and provide practices and tools to enable neighborhood leaders and other stakeholders to work together on creative solutions to the problems that face them.

A partner in the organization Trusted Space, keynote speaker Bill Traynor has developed an innovative approach to place-making and community-building called Network-Centric Organizing that has been successfully implemented at Cleveland’s Neighborhood Connections.

Traynor is also a partner in Neighboring First and its signature project NeighborUP America, an effort to re-claim neighboring for the 21st century and to support grassroots action to connect people across lines of difference for mutual support, empowerment and quality of life.

Traynor has 30 years of experience in community development and community organizing, working in urban areas throughout the United States.

In 1992, Traynor created Neighborhood Partners and the Neighborhood Partners Fund, which has assisted more than 200 community development efforts nationwide.

To learn more about the FutureHeights annual meeting and its Community Capacity-Building Program, visit www.futureheights.org. To learn more about Bill Traynor, visit his blog, The Value of Place, at https://valueofplace.wordpress.com.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 1:29 PM, 03.30.2015