Abilene, Texas (just like many other cities) faces deep societal problems that no single agency, nonprofit organization, government entity, or community group can solve on its own. Issues such as distrust, criminal activity, lack of business development, and substandard housing conditions often conjure fear and negative perceptions about certain areas of town. We tend to wrongly label neighborhoods who suffer from these and similar issues as “bad” without much thought for the good residents who live there. CCC’s mission of community renewal speaks to our desire to help change these negative perceptions and to empower residents in Abilene’s under-resourced neighborhoods.
In 2008, CCC joined the Abilene Neighborhood Initiative (ANI), founded by city leaders seeking to revitalize neglected areas of Abilene. An active partnership formed among the City of Abilene, the Abilene Police Department, Connecting Caring Communities, and neighborhood churches that continues today. These partners are working with residents living in five selected communities to discuss their neighborhood’s strengths, challenges and goals. Through relationships built on trust, ANI partners are pooling their collective resources for positive change in these communities. Neighbors are working alongside one another to address their common concerns (as opposed to outsider opinions and plans). ANI builds community connectedness, identifies indigenous leaders, and lays the foundation for more permanent impact and improvement in local neighborhoods. Together, we can accomplish what none could alone.
Currently, the Abilene Neighborhood Initiative is partnering with residents and groups located within these five communities: Alameda Addition, Butternut/Chestnut, Carver, Holiday Hills, and Stevenson/Sancudo.
October is always a busy month. My theory is that everyone gets settled into their schoolyear routines, but the holidays haven’t hit yet, so that’s when everyone and their dogs plan events. A similar thing happens in April, come to the think of it. Janet and I wrapped up the busy month of October with a visit to Houston. While many were in town for Harvey relief or to gear up for the World Series, we went for the No Need Among You conference put on by the Texas Christian Community Development Network.
This was my third NNAY conference, and by now, I’m starting to notice some common refrains that I’d like to share.
1. No one has this completely figured out. There’s a reason that nearly 600 people come to these conferences for advice and encouragement every year: it’s hard.
2. We have inherited some unhealthy practices...
CCC’s 3 community coordinators partner closely with the City of Abilene, the Abilene Police Department, neighborhood churches and residents living in these communities. Together, we discuss strengths and challenges and work toward shared goals. We aim to listen and learn, to identify indigenous leaders, and to support ANI neighborhoods by walking alongside them with intentionality.
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