Theme: Authentic Community Relations
The City of Rancho Cordova started the Neighborhood Engagement Program in 2012. Many neighborhoods in the City were still suffering from the recession; resident turnover had fundamentally changed neighborhood character, and many of the established neighborhoods were struggling with a loss of cohesion. The program’s goal was to inspire residents’ hopes and dreams for their neighborhood, build strong relationships among neighbors, and create a sense of community that promotes pride and leadership.
The City recognized the value in fostering strong neighborhoods, and working alongside our residents as partners, the City took the innovative approach to dedicate staff and resources to help build better and stronger ties in some of the more challenged neighborhoods. The traditional communication through City Council meetings and Brown Act notifications was not enough. We needed to do more than simply inform. The City wanted to engage residents. Most residents don’t inherently have the experience or resources to engage and organize their neighbors to set neighborhood goals, but they do have the drive and the desire. The City’s role was to provide the staffing, resources, and expertise to help them become organizers and leaders, and to empower them to strengthen their neighborhoods.
There are four critical strategies necessary to the City’s program:
• Build neighborhood capacity, through facilitation, coaching, and activation; the City supports implementation, but residents drive it.
• Neighbors initiate ideas and implement activities that bring people together to improve their neighborhood.
• City staff help neighbors develop the leadership skills to identify and carry out projects that engage other residents, increasing social capital within the neighborhood.
• City, other local agencies, especially schools and park districts, recognize and coordinate with neighbors and one another to support resident determined goals for their neighborhood.