This fall the Fort Road Federation’s board of directors is developing two documents that will inform and guide how we can help achieve neighborhood goals.
The first is a new strategic plan for the organization. What is a strategic plan and why is it important? A strategic plan is a document that defines an organization’s goals and direction for a time period, usually three to five years. It helps to set clear priorities, focus energy and resources, ensure that staff and the board are working toward common goals, and defines strategies to meet our goals. This is a plan focused on the Fort Road Federation as an organization and steps we can take to achieve our mission.
The second is the Small Area Plan. Each district council submits its Small Area Plan (SAP) to the city. The SAPs articulate a vision to guide growth and investment, provide a process for community engagement in setting priorities for the area, and guide the city in decision-making on a neighborhood level.
Input from the West 7th/Fort Road community is very important to help define goals for the organization and ensure the SAP is aligned with residents’ needs and wants. Our first task for both activities was to hear from residents. This summer we held or attended six events to get feedback, as well as had an online survey. We spent time handing out popsicles at Cooper’s Foods, the West 7th Community Center, several National Night Out parties, and the Healthy West 7th Block party and asked people to complete three statements:
•I want to live in a neighborhood that…. •One thing I love about my neighborhood is…. •If I could change one thing about my neighborhood, it would be…
We received more than 350 responses and really enjoyed meeting the diverse people who make up West 7th. Some of the themes that emerged were that:
People want to live in a neighborhood that is safe, has lots of activities that bring people together, has great parks and green space (a splash pad or pool was very popular!), where neighbors care for one another, has biking and walking infrastructure, and has housing that is affordable and well cared for.
The one thing people love about their neighborhood is overwhelmingly their neighbors! People also love the parks, its central location, and the small businesses.
If people could change one thing they would have lower crime/more safety, less traffic and slower drivers, more businesses, and improved transit and biking/walking options.
What’s next? We need to turn this information into a strategic plan and SAP. What does “safe” mean and how can FRF help make that happen? What can we do to make our parks even better and have lots of ways for neighbors to interact and support each other? What does FRF need to do itself, like create committees or change bylaws, to sustain itself and include more people in neighborhood decision-making?
The board has formed a strategic planning committee and a SAP committee to take on these tasks. The strategic planning committee is co-chaired by Dana DeMaster and Andrea McDonald Marboe and the SAP committee is co-chaired by Camille Morse Nicholson and Meghan Redmond. They will be meeting this fall and will share draft plans with the community in late fall or early winter.