Professor Cheryl Doble (SUNY ESF)
Professor Paula Horrigan (Cornell University)
In the winter of 2001 – 2002, residents of the North Side neighborhood in Binghamton began to consider ways to enhance the peace, wholeness, harmony, and prosperity of their community. The residents, representing a variety of faith traditions, called themselves a “Community of Shalom” and became the catalysts for starting the process of transforming the neighborhood based on the North Side’s inherent positive attributes.
In the Spring of 2002 the Communities of Shalom partnered with SUNY ESF and Cornell University to conduct a series of workshops to develop a cohesive plan for the North Side Neighborhood. The first workshop included a series of activities through which residents revealed the ways that they use and value their community by identifying favorite places, traditions, and activities. They also discussed their vision for the neighborhood, identifying ways to strengthen the area and address problematic issues through future change. At the second workshop groups reviewed the summary findings from activities from the first workshop, reconsidered the opportunities they identified, and discussed ways they might take advantage of these to address concerns. During the third workshop, participants reviewed the students’ design proposals and began to develop strategies for implementation and expanded community participation. The final meeting, during which conceptual plans were presented to a group of over 50 people, served as the stepping-off point for initiating a larger dialogue with neighborhood residents, the City of Binghamton, and other local, regional, and state-wide partners. The work of the semester was documented in a series of Banners that illustrate the Commercial, Neighborhood, and Riverfront components of the Vision as well as the project Process.
The City’s designation as a New York State Quality Community and continued work between the Communities of Shalom, the City of Binghamton, and the universities to prepare a grant proposal for further work in the community allowed these partnerships to continue. With an Environmental Protection Fund grant through the NYS Department of State, the research teams from both universities continued to work on the North Side Vision Plan throughout the summer of 2004. Another outcome of this process was the development of the North Side Riverfront Revitalization Plan begun in the Spring of 2004 by students from SUNY ESF and Cornell University.