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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Multicultural Festival

Inherit the Earth

4th Annual Multicultural Festival

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven and its subsidiary, the New Haven HomeOwnership Center, hosted its 4th annual Multicultural Festival this past Saturday with its partner Start Community Bank. Since 2009, these neighboring institutions dedicated to serving the needs of New Haven residents have come together once a year to host this springtime festival meant to celebrate New Haven’s diversity.



“New Haven is a city of diversity,” said NHS Executive Director Jim Paley. “It’s part of its strength. This festival is a true celebration of life, diversity, and the spirit of the people of New Haven.”

Bill Placke, President and CEO of Start Bank, agreed. “The purpose of this event is to celebrate the Whalley Avenue community and the people who make it a great place to live and to work.”

While many of the attendees at this year’s festival were veterans of last year’s festival, many more were first-timers enticed by the festivities. Families in particular took advantage of the free food and fun offered by the neighborhood businesses and other NHS partners that sponsored the event.


Art also had a prominent presence at this year’s festival. In tandem with the “Inherit the Earth” theme, NHS of New Haven and Start Community Bank asked local students to depict what “inheriting the earth” meant to them. An art show took place on the NHS campus commemorating those who brought the expression to life on paper.
 
The festival concluded by presenting awards to individuals who have done exceptional work to improve their communities. The honorees included: Joanne Sciulli, Executive Director of Solar Youth; Mattie Stevenson, an avid community gardener; and Lanissa Gardner and Jackie Failla, two active students from Common Ground High School. All of our honorees demonstrate esteem, respect, creativity, and a love of the earth that is an example to us all.

Thank you to everyone who supported our festival and who came out to celebrate with us. We look forward to next year’s event!

Photos courtesy Tom Ficklin.










Wednesday, May 8, 2013

RLP #3 & #4 2013

RLP Recap

Classes 3 & 4: Planning Successful Campaigns + Understanding Power for Community Change


Two fantastic gatherings took place recently as part of our 2013 Resident Leadership Program: Sessions 3 and 4 of a 5 part series of classes. The first session focused on planning successful campaigns, in which we learned five important steps: 1) identify the issue, 2) define your team, 3) research the power and players, 4) develop a path to a winning strategy and 5) evaluate the campaign. Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven’s Executive Director, Jim Paley, introduced these concepts by providing an in-depth look at his professional campaign for community revitalization through affordable housing development. Hearing the successes he has achieved and obstacles he has faced over the more than 30 years of his work in New Haven, participants were able to understand his process in the form of an interactive case-study with actual events and conditions as lessons to learn from. Furthermore, these experiences and strategies were presented in an outline format that allowed the attendees to relate information presented to their own interests and concerns. Following the presentation, the participants formed teams of five or six, to create a thorough plan for their own new, designated campaign.


With a new skill and strategies to think in terms of deliberate campaigns, our participants were geared up for the next session: “Understanding Power for Community Change.” The format for this class was a little unique as we had the pleasure to hear from not just one speaker, but four! Joining us were: Erik Johnson, the Executive Director of the City of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative; Lee Cruz, Community Outreach Director for The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven; Stephen Cremin-Endes, NHS’s Community Building Specialist; and NHS’s Executive Director Jim Paley.



The speakers did a wonderful job of providing insights into the ways in which power and opinions play vital roles in the decision making process. Stephen introduced to everyone how to create an easy-to-make and useful power mapping tool. This tool allows a user to place people in one of four quadrants: powerful and supportive; powerful and unsupportive; powerless and supportive; and powerless and unsupportive. Jim then provided some examples of how to use this tool and an understanding of how it provides the groundwork for community change. This tool is necessary to create leverage that can be applied to promote movement in a positive direction.




After this we heard from Erik who described the existing opportunities and issues currently facing in New Haven. This part of the discussion was eye-opening and allowed us to better understand how he sees progress as possible through a focus on shared values. The final discussion to this engaging session drew on Lee Cruz’s vast experience in community building. He gave both an overview and a couple of specific stories related to his work, which was beneficial for learning strategies that work in communities. Whether we’re trying to create relationships with those in a foreign community or our own, he explained, genuine interest and provoking open-ended questions are key.



Thanks to our speakers for sharing all these important ideas and techniques!