Originally published on the Global Communities website.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley (BGCMV) has been an integral part of the Floreciente community since it opened its first club in the neighborhood in 1994. Their presence has since expanded to include a Teen Center as well as administrative offices for the entire Quad Cities area. Whereas the BGCMV is highly regarded among community members for their youth programming, their Administration Building – located in the center of the neighborhood – needed to be repaved to deter people from leaving their cars unattended on the lot.
Several additional buildings, public infrastructure, and other services in Floreciente also needed improvements to make them more welcoming to residents. Neighbors, business owners, and representatives from local organizations that work in the Floreciente neighborhood began to meet monthly to identify and prioritize community needs. They also worked to identify projects that would increase community pride and participation and civic activities in Floreciente early on to draw more neighbors to their cause. Popular suggestions included undertaking beautification projects, planting flowers, addressing transportation issues, creating play areas, and celebrating together.
Global Communities worked with neighborhood businesses, BGCMV, Habitat for Humanity, MetroLink, and the City of Moline to explore different approaches to these problems and came up with these solutions:
Global Communities funded these projects to serve as an example for place-making, a process by which spaces are repurposed with public input as part of a coordinated effort to transform a community. Children will be able to ride bikes, and the entire neighborhood will enjoy a mural depicting images of the community’s Mexican heritage while they wait for the bus.
Global Communities organized volunteers for these projects in March and April to help prime pots, sign up neighbors, make phone calls, and decorate and plant pots. On May 7, more than 100 neighbors came to the BCGMV Administrative Building to either paint, plant or pick up flower pots to display on their front porches (see picture to the right). In early June, MetroLink installed the bus shelter, which people started using it immediately. By the end of June, approximately 120 volunteers came together to help with the flower pots and paint the mural at the BGCMV.
Global Communities will continue to work with its partners on transforming this space into something the community looks on with pride. The relationships that have been built between neighbors as they participate in these projects will need to be fostered to keep the tremendous momentum going.
One of the basic principles of place-making is to “always start with petunias.” Short-term activities, especially inexpensive ones like flower planting, are a way to generate immediate wins, test ideas, and learn from the experience as additional projects are formulated.
Global Communities, Floreciente residents, and partner organizations took this principle literally – and started with planting wave petunias into flower pots at the BGCMV Administrative Building. Since Floreciente literally means “flourishing” in Spanish, neighbors are hopeful that the petunias will grow and bloom into more community engagement projects for the neighborhood.
Global Communities is funded by the John Deere Foundation in Moline.
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