How can you build efficient Urban communities, homes, and businesses?

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What is working in your area?

As a retired military family, we've lived in a lot of different areas, and I've partnered with a variety of organizations as a volunteer literacy tutor. I'm going to link to a few things that I've seen done well in urban areas in a few different states.  What is working well in your area?  Why reinvent the wheel when you can copy it!  Add your own from your area.

East St. Louis: Christian Activity Center (CAC), supported by several different churches in nearby Illinois (E. St. Louis is on the Illinois side of the river.)  This video about their program with stats about kids who attend the CAC after school vs. the average child in East St. Louis is astounding (and the non-CAC averages will break your heart.) It also shows what they have done with their reclaimed urban blight, they reclaimed several blocks around the center. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgbTNVZBQro

Los Angeles: Hope Gardens (for formerly homeless moms and their children) They integrate education and training for both mom and kids, the grounds are beautiful.  (LA has no unclaimed areas, and real estate is at a premium even in areas that might be deteriorating and need to be reclaimed, so they moved to outside the city where they could have space and a peaceful setting.)

https://urm.org/services/hope-gardens/

Hi Elizabeth,

You have a lot of great ideas.  I live in L.A. County.  You're so right about the premium real estate price challenge.  I was thinking that the Mayors and City Councils might agree to dedicate some city park land for community gardens and new buildings dedicated to after school programs such as tutoring, career development and day-care.

Thank you for sharing your ideas and links.

 

Quote from Maria Conlon on August 9, 2018, 12:50 pm

Hi Elizabeth,

You have a lot of great ideas.  I live in L.A. County.  You're so right about the premium real estate price challenge.  I was thinking that the Mayors and City Councils might agree to dedicate some city park land for community gardens and new buildings dedicated to after school programs such as tutoring, career development and day-care.

Thank you for sharing your ideas and links.

 

You're welcome!

In built up areas, you can also look to get the most out of existing facilities.  For example, organizations can use churches during the week or the weekend when services are not in session.  Most modern churches have classroom areas and areas for kids to play outside.  Local schools are hit and miss, but can often be used by non-profit groups after school and on the weekend, again, both classroom and play areas are usually available.  Hotel conference areas and pools are another area that can be inexpensive during off-prime times.  Also, club sports will often rent out their facilities for reasonable rates when not in use.  My daughter does gymnastics, a gym would be a perfect place to run a combination academic and sports endeavor.  There are areas that can be used to teach and a big gym area for Parkour/gymnastics classes and open gym time to use as recess.  You can also set up an adult cross-fit or other exercise class in a big gym like that. Restaurants during closed hours are also a possibility if you choose one that has an area that can be set up for relay race type of learning games or one that has enough outdoor space for a recess time, and they can be an ideal cheap location after hours for adult career development/training classes, especially if you buy snacks from the restaurant as part of the deal, win/win.

Also, your local Parks and Rec department may have facilities and instructors that are being underutilized, the government is not always innovative or efficient.  It may be cheaper, although maybe not easier, bureaucracy wise, to see what they have available vs. what the needs are and how those could be matched with flexible ideas for funding, transportation, advertising, etc.

(Get out your 100 page insurance/liability waiver forms for Parkour in California!!  When we lived in Texas, the gym there had both Parkour and gymnastics classes and the waiver form for Parkour was long even in Texas.)

Our academic pursuits, along with a range of extracurricular activities, help in honing a child's skills and ensuring that he/she grows to be a mature and responsible citizen.
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