IOD Platform Crowdsources Innovative Community Solutions
Fairmount Greenway Bike Ride August 17, 2013. Photo courtesy of the Fairmount/Indigo Line Community Development Corporation (CDC) Collaborative.
Change, particularly at the community level, rarely occurs in a vacuum. The forces that transform and revitalize communities often depend on complex interactions among politicians, policymakers, practitioners, business owners, and citizens. But the innovations that emerge from these exchanges can not only help the collaborators’ community thrive but also serve as models for other communities facing their own challenges. Sharing these models is the intention behind Innovation of the Day (IOD), an initiative of the Office of Policy Development and Research’s Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI).
How It Worked
IPI launched the IOD initiative to crowdsource best practices in community development and urban policy. Through the IOD online portal, communities submitted their working solutions to common challenges facing communities across the world, all of which had to have achieved measurable outcomes and be replicable in other locations. These submissions were presented in a searchable online database, where site users voted on the most promising initiatives. HUD highlighted the three initiatives receiving the most votes with extended content on the IOD website.
The Winning Initiatives
Each of the winning projects features a diverse set of stakeholders working toward a shared goal. From neighborhood revitalization and transit-oriented development to citizen engagement, these initiatives demonstrate the benefits of leveraging various resources and interests around a common agenda.
Overview: The Fairmount/Indigo Line Community Development Corporation Collaborative consists of local economic and community development corporations in the Boston metropolitan area that are focused on smart growth and transit-oriented development. The Collaborative is transforming an underused commuter rail line into a rapid transit line to serve area residents, many of whom are minorities earning low or moderate incomes.
Strategies: Since 2000, the Collaborative has worked closely with local partners to ensure that community participation remains central to the initiative. For example, residents have participated in project planning, met with public officials, and helped design the stations. The Collaborative has leveraged more than $100 million in funding from federal, state, city, and philanthropic sources, including a HUD Choice Neighborhoods grant as well as assistance from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
- Three new stations opened in 2013, and a fourth is slated for construction in late 2015.
- Fares have been significantly reduced and are now similar to those of other local rapid transit lines, and service is more frequent.
- Economic development efforts have spurred the development of nearly 110,000 square feet of new commercial space, attracting new businesses and creating new jobs.
- Sustainability has been addressed through urban agriculture, solar energy, ecological landscaping, and the development of a biking and walking path.
2015 Spring Clean Up. Photo courtesy of The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation.
Overview: The Community Leaders program is a 9-month program that consists of community engagement and resident leadership development in the Walnut Hill neighborhood of West Philadelphia.
Strategies: The program partners with anchor institutions, community health organizations, community development funders, and other local organizations to increase the impact of their work in Walnut Hill. Residents take an active role in neighborhood revitalization decisions through regular engagement opportunities facilitated by Community Leaders. Resident input has influenced the development of community assets such as a playground, community farm, and a new park. Scaling the model to meet the needs of other communities, the Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation has trained more than 80 representatives from community-based organizations and government agencies in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, including some in the Philadelphia Promise Zone.
- 107 Community Leader graduates.
- 3,300 households engaged annually.
- 4,824 volunteers recruited.
- 2,967 families connected to resources and social services.
- 1,100 new trees planted.
Back Alley Bike Repair is the first alley shop to locate in a Pioneer Square alley. Photo courtesy International Sustainability Institute.
Overview: The Alley Network Project developed out of a study of downtown Seattle’s public spaces. The study identified the historic alleys of Pioneer Square as an untapped community resource with considerable potential to become an important local asset. The International Sustainability Institute led the effort to encourage the community to reimagine these derelict corridors as vibrant and valued community spaces.
Strategies: The Alley Network Project consists of creative strategies to attract people and investment to the alleys in Pioneer Square, such as hosting community events, improving the alleys’ accessibility, beautifying and painting the alleys, collaborating with local businesses, and addressing garbage collection issues. These strategies were developed, supported, and implemented by residents, business owners, and city officials working in tandem to bring these ideas to life. The Alley Network Project leveraged funding from government, private foundations, and local businesses and relied on the expertise of a various contributors.
- The Pioneer Square Alley has been transformed from a dilapidated alley into a valued public space that hosts community events that have drawn more than 6,000 people.
- An alley design process has guided the implementation of energy-efficient lighting and paving to increase the alleys’ accessibility and sustainability.
- Business owners are taking advantage of increased foot traffic in the alleys by designing spaces that better integrate shops and restaurants into the revitalized space.
Although funding for follow-up efforts is unlikely at this time, IPI hopes that these successful projects will inspire other communities and their partners to adapt these fresh ideas for themselves. Visit the IOD website to learn more about these creative community development activities.