Friday, February 26, 2010

Live Blog Feed: ESLC Annual Planning Conference

What's Next, East New Market?

place work[s]hop with Jake Day

We believe that place works, place works as a strategy. Believing in small towns is a strategy of upmost importance on the Eastern Shore. We want to engage in a workshop process. Our work is never finished, it is a process. Placework[s]hop is a Eastern Shore community design workshop to envision the future of our special towns. The first Placework[s]hop was held in fall 2009 in East New Market, Md. East New Market received a Streetscape grant from SHA, but they also face major problems related to community character.

The first step was to research East New Market before the workshop. The second was to engage people in the process. We asked people to take pictures. We gave several people in town disposable cameras. We wanted them to take the first half of the roll on good things about East New Market and the second half on what needs to be improved. We ended up with 1500 pictures of this 150-160 person population town. The pictures were categorized. Important questions arose from the pictures: how do we preserve our rural character and agricultural landscapes? What do we do about these subdivisions that have sprout up? Seven pictures were on an intersection in a traditional development where the development ended, with nothing but road extending into a field.

After pictures were compiled sessions were scheduled to bring in the community to get feedback and to spur discussion on the pictures and the important themes that the pictures raised.

A 2-day (Friday night/Saturday night) community design retreat was scheduled at the fire department. We went to community events to network and have a presence with the community. We had a team of block captains who met with ESLC staff bi-weekly to talk about the development of the project. Together the block captain team got the word out to the community word on upcoming workshop meetings and planning sessions.

Unexpected Outcomes of the Community Workshop: Through this process it was highlighted that nothing was protecting the character of the African American community in town. Many felt that expansion of the town historic district or creation of new one was needed to protect the integrity of the African American community.

The objective and goal of this exercise was to assist the town of East New Market in making a plan for their community's future. ESLC had no agenda for making the plan for the town, the objective was to help facilitate the plan making process. By creating a process that work you come out with a better plan. Providing the community the ability to communicate and discuss in a comprehensive and honest way allows for real issues to be addressed that in other community involvement processes would not have been on the radar screen.

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