Envision da Berry's Community Billboard
Enterprise’s Collaborative Action Grants provide organizations with $5,000 to build community agency, engage local voices, and connect to long-term community goals. Round two of the 2017 Collaborative Actions grant cycle is open now. Apply by June 9, 2017.
In this blog post, Phanat Xanamane of Envision da Berry, one of 15 recipients of an Enterprise Collaborative Action Grant in 2016, talks about community engagement and visioning in New Iberia, Louisiana.
How did this Collaborative Action capture the spirit of your community?
Our Collaborative Action was a series of four community potlucks that built on the local tradition of social engagement through sharing and celebrating homemade food. The locations selected for these potlucks included a community garden site, an unfinished museum wing downtown, a public housing community center, and a local art gallery. These locations are relatively new spaces and visionary points of departure for the aspirations of what we hope to see more of in our community. To further develop our collective aspirations, attendees were asked to fill out questionnaires on what they would like to see happen in each neighborhood. A local artist then took the questionnaire responses to make renderings that illustrated the collective desires.
How did this contribute to increased capacity for your local community?
We sent invitations to strategic community leaders in order to bring a diverse group of individuals together at four distinct neighborhood locations that represented a cross-section of demographics in New Iberia. This helped build strategic relationships between individuals and the respective organizations they represented. The resulting products, learnings, and experiences of these potlucks, engagements, questionnaires and artworks were synthesized into a digital community billboard that is an invaluable resource in spreading the word on community-driven projects and events. The digital billboard will be an on-going resource for local non-profits to display information at various high traffic locations around our city.
How did this collaborative action impact long-term neighborhood goals?
The artistic representation of the community’s feedback provided during the potluck has made the long-term neighborhood goals more tangible. In our community, pessimism and cynicism has been the norm given decades of stagnation, decline, and poor leadership. Our collaborative action is a step towards empowering and allowing more accessibility for residents to guide the planning and implementation of their collective goals. While it is too early to see the long-term impacts our project will have, we can assert that the community billboard will be a powerful tool to guide and provide access to productive conversations about the neighborhood. Such conversations will connect ongoing community efforts, add additional input to neighborhood projects, and address latent needs.
How did this grant fit within your organization’s operations?
As a small organization with limited resources and staff, we like to do short, project-based activities with a defined beginning and end. Because the grant asked for reasonable reporting and deliverables that were open-ended, it was easy to manage and achieve within the timeframe.