Neighbors Building Community - A Community Empowerment Initiative Through Community Mapping
Cleveland State University’s Office of Civic Engagement, through an Engaged Learning Enhancement Grant, funded a pilot demonstration project to evaluate the use of community mapping for assisting with community assessments of neighborhood issues in a west side neighborhood of Cleveland. The project used neighborhood residents to collect and map data on a variety of neighborhood issues, specifically dilapidated buildings, potentially dangerous dogs, pot holes, broken sidewalks, offensive graffiti, trash in vacant lots, dead trees, and more.
The pilot project educated the participants about neighborhood issues, while providing the community with documentation on issues that can be presented to council representatives and city officials. Participants were eager to use mapping technology to improve their neighborhood, enjoyed walking the neighborhood and working as teams, and attained an appreciation of neighborhood qualities, such as many well-maintained homes and gardens and its many tree-lined streets, as well its physical problems. Participants recommended that subsequent database development and mapping include community assets and factors related to health and environmental quality.
It is hoped that as institutions respond to the issues and priorities, the citizens of the community will be empowered to effect change. The most important outcomes were an enhanced sense of community and engagement in neighborhood affairs.