Middle Main

A neighborhood just a little off center

Hello Again! Second Year VISTA Journey

Hello Middle Main!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post for Middle Main and so much has happened in that time. I’m now in my second term of AmeriCorps VISTA with Hudson River Housing, and have continued working with the Middle Main Initiative and the Northeastern Dutchess Initiative. We’ve had some new faces join our team, Ted and Anna (pictured in the photo!), while a seasoned member has transition into a new role, Nora as PUF coordinator. It’s been quite an interesting new year so let’s dive in.

We held a small Youth LEAP program in the fall and we found some challenges with coordinating schedules for youth currently in school and extra-curricular activities. Nevertheless, we continued with the program, taken what we’ve learned, and applied it to our program model for the summer of 2017. We are currently securing business partnerships along Main Street and actively recruiting youth for the program. Also, and quite an important part of the work I’ve done since I’ve last checked in, we’ve finished the Community Impact Measurement Survey. This massive 200 person survey gathered resident’s opinions on safety, public services and neighborliness here in Middle Main. Once completed I was tasked with creating an infographic to share with partners. Doesn’t it look nice?

With my time as an AmeriCorps winding down, I’ve been able to shadow on other projects outside of my current assignment. I’ve assisted in creating a video as part of a grant application, I’ve worked on an RFP proposal for a park, and I’ve even got to hold a baby! Middle Main has sure been a place of discovery and learning.

As we’ve continued the work out in northeastern Dutchess, we’ve found interest in residents for community leadership programming similar to our work in Middle Main. This past fall and spring we’ve held Community Leadership Program workshops out in the northeast. For the fall, participants enrolled in a six-week course, led by CLP instructor extraordinaire Lindsay, where they networked with community members involved in non-profits, fundraising events and local government. At the end of the six weeks they led their own Community Conversation meeting around affordable housing! In the spring we held a one-day CLP program and workshopped with residents on how to outreach for events, facilitate a discussion and understand long-term vs. short-term goals. Both were successful in large part to the passionate and enthusiastic residents we got to know.

For the spring into the summer, we’re planning small, interactive community workshops called “No Place like Home,” where residents of the community build out their homes and communities. We give each participant a sheet of construction paper, we dump a bag of materials on the table, and we ask them how they see their needs changing over the next 15 years and we reflect on those answers through what they build. I’m excited to see what the residents have to say.

Until next time!

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