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Seven city 'teams' explore rebuilding tomorrow's neighborhoods.

In the eighth and final roundtable on "(Re)Building Tomorrow's Neighborhood" the forum captured the essence of what cities are doing across the nation to enhance the quality of life of their communities.

Representatives of seven cities convened July 9-10 in Richmond, Va. to develop neighborhood strategies to "improve and inform large public service delivery systems that impact social conditions such as economic deterioration and the problems that results from it," according to Sandra Jibrell of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Participating cities, Hampton, Petersburg, Newport News and host city Richmond, Va., as well as Durham, N.C., East St. Louis, Ill. and Indianapolis, Ind. were taken through a series of problem solving exercises and discussions over the two day period. Bill Potapchuk, executive director of The Center for Community Problem Solving and Dr. Lawrence Leak, who serves as a consultant for the Sandtown Revitalization-Community Partnership effort in Baltimore served as the facilitators for the Richmond roundtable.

Jibrell spoke for the luncheon crowd on Saturday, July 10, 1993, when she remarked on what she believes are the challenges cities will face.

"Delivering people out of poverty," she said, regardless of what else the agenda calls for, will be the central most important task. Race and class issues, poverty, outrage and hopelessness" are at the crux of about every concern.


This city is assessing its East District initiative, which is an attempt to focus on and improve a badly economically depressed neighborhood. The Richmond team's members decided that they will work closer with the East District board in order to provide additional momentum; promote better media relations by inviting the press to meetings; expand communications between the board and the city of Richmond; provide board and staff training; and focus on progress.


Indianapolis is embarking upon a city visionary process. The "Indi" team noted that the initial stages were completed in June, 1993. Some of the goals formed during the two day roundtable included: opening a neighborhood resource center; continuing to develop and enhance the public school district; initiating a housing partnership; and establishing a closer, more communicative relationship between citizens, community organizations and government.


This city is in the midst of a largely successful neighborhood development initiative. The city is working on forming a closer community partnership with the police department by revitalizing the neighborhood watch program.


This team worked on ways to assist children and families by improving neighborhoods. Although it was agreed that many things are already happening in the neighborhoods, it is not in all of the neighborhoods.

East St.Louis

East St. Louis has been a city in financial ruin. Starting from "ground zero" in both business/economic and neighborhood revitalization, this team decided to launch a major city council proposal. Mayor Bush will propose a resolution to establish a broad-based neighborhood council, which would include representatives from the 20 neighborhoods.

Newport News

This team determined that they will continue dialogue on issues concerning neighborhood revitalization, an anti-crime grant and recreational needs in their community. Newport News noted the following concerns regarding their neighborhood revitalization: community leadership to galvanize government; commitment of collaboration between government and citizens; and expansion of the focus of citizens on their particular problems.


The Petersburg team focused their planning strategies in two areas their school system and middle class flight from the city. The team resolved that the school system is one of the most important foundations of a strong community. It was noted that there are 100 neighborhood organizations (approximately half are active) in Petersburg. The challenge, therefore is not to build a base, because one already exist, but to enhance it by demonstrating to these organizations how to get neighborhood projects started.
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Author:Kelsey, Serita
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jul 19, 1993
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