Preface | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Bibliography | Appendices | List of Acronyms | About the Author
Still another kind of grantee--social agencies, organizations and institutions, or, more specifically, neighborhood houses, metropolitan/community organizations and colleges--received grants to form citizenship organizations. The years following World War It saw an increasing concern on the part of many organizations and institutions about their missions and the need to reconsider their programs accordingly. The war itself had introduced dynamics, such as the migration of rural Southerners and Puerto Ricans into the cities, which were creating social problems on an increasing scale. Organizations and institutions were asking themselves what they could and should do to help deal with these developments.
One obvious option was to see what could be done in an agency's or organization's community. Social workers began to ask whether the traditional forms of case work or group work were enough, and, indeed, whether the community organization approach in its social work context was itself adequate? Was it not necessary to go beyond bringing representatives of social agencies together into community councils (which were organized to improve the delivery of social services) and begin to include citizens in a more forthright way in planning how to cope with the problem of urban neighborhoods? The creation of the Area Welfare Planning Department by the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago provided one bit of evidence of this concern. And, perhaps, the change in designation from settlement house to neighborhood house or neighborhood center stemmed from the same concern.
A second category of organization, enrolling individual members but not building-based, also began to address itself to new needs in new ways--seeking particularly to involve citizens in community problem-solving efforts. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is an example of this category.
In colleges and universities, too, there began to emerge programs focusing on the community. The motivations for these developments were mixed. Two of the principal grounds were, first, the feeling of obligation, as an institution chartered by society, to help improve conditions through education and training in the contiguous community (or to assist, in the case of a state university, communities anywhere in its state) and, second, the wish to make on-campus instruction more "real" through involvement of students in the field.
With a view to discovering what might result from funding applicants which presumably wanted to help citizens to work together to improve their communities, grants totaling $781,694 were made in support of fifteen projects in these three categories. It was hoped that the methods of and results achieved by these grantees, all representing a middle-class outlook, might be compared with the results achieved by such grantees as the Industrial Areas Foundation.
The interest in citizen organization on the part of neighborhood houses seemed to stem from three interrelated factors: (1) The ongoing examination within the professional field itself of the role of the settlement house, which called for more emphasis on community-based activities, (2) the accelerating changes in cities leading to increasingly serious social problems and urban deterioration, and (3) the efforts pursuant to federal and state legislation to reestablish deteriorated urban neighborhoods. This latter development in most cases took the form of bulldozing old bricks and mortar and replacing them with new buildings, a sometimes necessary but not sufficient change. However, one potentially positive factor was the emphasis in federal legislation on "maximum feasible participation" on the part of the community residents in the decisions which needed to be made pursuant to such programs.
In all, grants totaling $382,700 were made to seven neighborhood houses. Hull House, Kenwood-Ellis Community Center, Howell Neighborhood House, South Chicago Community Center and Lower North Center were located in Chicago. Freedom House was located in Boston and Colony House in Brooklyn. Although there were differences among the grantees as to specific goals and objectives, in general, the similarities were more important. First, they shared a social work outlook. They expected that men of good will would cooperate on the basis of what the facts in a situation indicated with respect to where the general public interest lay. But they differed with respect to the degree of realism characterizing their approach to community affairs and their commitment to participation by those to be helped. The agencies (with two exceptions) were similar, too, in having to deal with a desperate situation primarily because of serious deterioration of their neighborhoods or, in the case of South Chicago Community Center, because of virulent racial feeling. They were similar also in that each was a building-centered program but saw the need for community outreach. Five of the agencies also shared an unfortunate similarity in that the programs were either drastically altered or aborted entirely because of personnel changes. But let us sketch in a sentence or two the salient elements in each of these projects.
Hull House sought to build a citizen organization through a planning approach but failed to make any significant headway. The large Italian community on the Near West Side of Chicago, dominated by a political boss system, refused to take any part in an effort to influence change, preferring to believe change could be prevented if ignored. Howell Neighborhood House succeeded in forming Pilsen Neighbors but failed in its attempt to organize a redevelopment demonstration project (very possibly for reasons over which it had no control). In any case, when its director left, the momentum dropped and responses to our many requests for information were for the most part ignored. Kenwood-Ellis Community Center proved unable to establish a working relationship with the lower-income blacks who were moving into the area. In the end, the center itself had to close its doors.
Colony House, in Brooklyn, was making some progress in organizing its area--but very slowly. However, in time its large Puerto Rican clientele, for reasons not disclosed, dropped away. This result was probably due to the fact that when the director left, her successor appeared to have conducted the project as though it were simply a variety of case work. Freedom House was able to take advantage of the anxiety felt by its middle-class clientele about losing their substantial investments in their homes to get an organization formed. But the staff failed to encourage the members to assume responsibility for activities of the organization. As for Lower North Center, no significant accomplishments were reported. The staff did not seem to know how to go about the task of organizing its community, either that which was within the housing project or in the surrounding neighborhood.
The only neighborhood house grantee which succeeded in achieving its objectives was South Chicago Community Center. It is true that it was funded at a somewhat higher level than the other grantees, but most of these funds were needed to set up and maintain a day care center which became the occasion and focus of the organizing effort. Nevertheless, it achieved a great deal in just two years whereas some other grantees achieved virtually nothing in four. But the South Chicago Community Center faced no small obstacle itself. How and why did it succeed?
In May 1955, the South Chicago Community Center (SCCC) requested a grant to promote citizen participation to create a nursery school in a public housing project. Sponsors of the request were the Chicago Community Fund and the Chicago City Missionary Society of the Congregational Churches.
A few words about the background will help to define the problem. The South Chicago area is adjacent to the great steel mill complex of the Bethlehem Steel Company. It was a multiethnic area with strong feelings of antipathy toward "downtown." Some years before, Trumbull Park Homes had been built as a public housing project with the expectation on the part of local residents, especially those in the adjacent neighborhood of South Deering, that the housing was to be made available primarily to South Chicago residents. Instead, the tenants came principally from elsewhere and were drawn mostly from welfare rolls. Many were single mothers with children; hence, they were subject to the moral disapproval of South Deering.
A short time before the application was forwarded to the Foundation, it was learned in South Deering that blacks were to move into the project. The situation exploded (literally, as cherry bombs became a nightly occurrence).1 Racial antipathy toward blacks was made more virulent by the recollection that the steel mills had used them as strike breakers many years before. It became necessary to assign 300 police to the housing project around the clock. It was the most expensive police detail in Chicago history, costing about $1,500,000 over a fifteen-month period.
Nevertheless, the director of the center, Everett S. Cope, considered it to be both possible and essential to intervene in the situation. He proposed an approach to include the following: (1) The center would offer services to the tenants of Trumbull Park project "simply as people and to avoid the development of any interracial crusade." Efforts would be directed toward those problems, which all had an interest in seeing solved. (2) The support of South Chicago leaders would be sought. (3) The cooperation and acceptance on the part of the tenants could, he thought, "best be initiated through an informal educational program with preschool children and their parents. We would plan to begin with a half-day nursery program utilizing accepted educational methods and experimenting in the development of parent participation, training and counseling." And (4) "The second step would be the development of club programs with relatively small, natural groups of school age and teenage boys and girls." Work would then begin with adult club leaders and continue toward the development of relationships on a community organization level. Working with adults was expected to flow from and, indeed, be made possible by their interest in their children's welfare. It was a "problem-solving" approach at a community level using group work methods.2
To carry out this program it was thought that four full-time professional staff would be needed, requiring a total budget of $22,900 per year to be made available over a three-year period beginning September 1, 1955. This request was approved. It was supplemented by a grant of $15,000 per year from the New World Foundation for the years 1956, 1957 and 1958 to support an expanded program. The ESF grant was later extended for each of two years beginning September 1958 and September 1959. The New World Foundation also renewed its grant for at least one more year in 1959.
In an interview to discuss the initial proposal, Cope made the following points about his premises. (1) If the tenants would demonstrate proper conduct, they would earn the respect of the surrounding community. (2) He believed in the power of concrete activities as a binder of hostility and as a developer of belongingness. (Boys and girls from the center went to work on a farm in the summer, not to a camp.) (3) The low morale of the tenants derived from the misfortune which preceded admission to the project, including broken homes. He believed, however, that enough effective people could be found in the project to begin the job of building community morale. And (4) it would be fatal to intellectualize the program. Even the word "council" was considered to be a Communist word in South Deering. The program would have to be based upon actions, not on talk about actions.3
Writing to the Foundation at the end of the first six months, Cope reported, "The progress made in this situation could not have been accomplished if we had attempted to call together this group to discuss how they could work together as an interracial group. The focus would then still have been on their differences and animosities." He went on to say that if the attack on a problem succeeds, "the group members often find that the problem can replace their former enemies as the subject for attack, and former supposed enemies become valued allies." He said that a teacher found that she could accept club members in spite of hostile sentiments expressed toward blacks. Her acceptance of them led to acceptance of her and "her strange attitudes of respect for all people as people."4
In a report prepared by Cope and Mary Jane Eaton of the center staff in May 1961, other essential elements in the center approach were noted. (1) Having "quietly demonstrated its respect for the dignity of all its participants regardless of race for many years, the center was clear in its commitments to calmly serve people while declining to launch an interracial crusade."5(2) It was important that the agency be firm about its essential policies; for example, the board and staff must be integrated. (3) The center must serve all people including offenders. (4) It was important to focus the attention of the community on a common need, closely related to a warm, human impulse; in this case, the needs of preschool children. (5) It was necessary to do something constructive at once. (6) It would be counterproductive to preach; it was necessary to demonstrate principles in action. (7) A staff should be recruited which could build rapport with the community. (8) There must be citizen participation in planning, conducting and supporting the program. (9) The work should begin with basic groups without trying to force integration. And (10) it was important to resist the temptation to build on differences. The staff must look for problems in which all have a similar stake and seek positive action, with cooperation, it was hoped, to follow.
Half of the teachers' working time was spent with parents. During the first four months, contacts were made with parents on an individual basis only. Then the staff was able to get some mothers to volunteer as assistant teachers. By spring, it was possible to bring together a group of six mothers to discuss a hot lunch program for the nursery school. In time, the staff was able to get increased participation in planning and in making decisions about preparing the food and paying for it. The teacher also used this opportunity to help the group learn something about nutrition and meal planning.
In commenting on these activities, the six months report stressed key elements in the methods followed: (1) Frequent, friendly contact between staff people and parents was seen as a necessity to allay fears. (2) Every effort was made to focus attention of individuals on real and mutual problems such as the need for food for the children. (3) Discussions were centered upon efforts to help the group to find reasonable and practical means to attack the problem. (4) It was deemed essential to achieve success with one task in order to build confidence as a basis for tackling the next problem. (5) As each problem was solved, "some new mutual problem must be found and attacked. Each new problem necessitates the building of a new educational curriculum."6 This put great strain on the ingenuity of the teacher.
In addition to nursery school children, older children became involved in the center. Nine clubs of school age children were being served, of which two were interracial, one was black, and six were white. These were "natural groupings." At the same time, the center was recruiting Puerto Rican parents for an English class, and a group of older tenants began to meet weekly for a social afternoon. A dozen parents held a bake sale and turned over thirty dollars for a much-needed record player for the nursery school. This provided evidence of growing confidence. The center was able to obtain 700 free seed packets from a seed company, which were sold for five cents each. Subsequently, a flower contest was held. A successful Easter egg hunt was put on for 250 children. All of these activities began to involve more adults from both inside and outside the housing project.7
By the end of the first year, the nursery school had been operating two half-day sessions daily except for planned vacations. Enrollment totaled thirty-five children, of whom one-third were black and six were from outside the project. By February 1957, ten out of an enrollment of forty were from outside, and there were fifteen children on a waiting list. "When we began, mothers simply could not let themselves believe that it could last for more than a few days. When people's morale is at this stage it is very important that they have a successful, winning experience--if they cannot hope, they cannot build."8
The concern of at least some mothers in Trumbull Park Homes for the welfare of their children was demonstrated not only by the continuing effort they made to keep the nursery school operating but also by the fact that they paid weekly fees for their children. (The sum of $1,250 came from fees the first year.) Additional contributions were made toward the cost of daily hot lunches. To maintain the latter, fifteen mothers took the physical examinations required of cooks by the board of health. Of the mothers helping, three were black and three lived in South Deering. This fact is significant in part because it is indicative of strengthened morale and willingness to take responsibility on the part of persons living in a rather demoralized community. (Forty percent lived in broken homes; thirty percent received welfare assistance.)
Programs involving school age children and their parents also continued to grow to include twenty clubs with 200 members meeting weekly (twice weekly in the summer) for an average attendance of 90 percent.9 As further evidence of change, nineteen families with seventy members took part in a family camp at the farm for a week. The group was interracial and included project and South Deering families. The program for parents was concerned with the care of children. Of the 200 club members, twenty-five were from South Deering; thirty-five were black. Two part-time club leaders were South Deering residents. One club was for those sixteen to seventeen years of age; three were for adults. There were more applications for club membership than the program could handle.
By the beginning of the second year, the adults began to take the initiative in planning and carrying through projects such as a bake sale, parents recreation night, securing a 300-book public library depository which the parents trained themselves to staff, organizing an Easter egg hunt, raising money for a ping-pong table, a bulb-planting project, etc. At the same time, the center was trying to involve parents with other agencies in the local community as an offshoot of the nursery school program and club program, specifically through participation in programs in the local park and through the public school. These activities may appear trivial to some, and it is true that they were not highly significant per se. What was important was what the individuals learned in the process: the value and the possibility of cooperation and the skills of working together--abilities clearly related to citizenship functions.
As further evidence of progress in reaching the surrounding community, the local Kiwanis club acknowledged the value of the program by giving $400 to the center for a public address system. It was also helpful that a new editor of the local newspaper was handling news about the project objectively.10 Given the state of feeling when the program began, these were astonishing developments. Many in South Deering, of course, remained violently antagonistic to project residents, especially to blacks. But as of May 1957 the Parent Club had sixty-six active members including eleven blacks and twelve South Deering parents.11 Of forty children in the two nursery school groups, ten lived in South Deering. Of the six cooks, three were black and three were from South Deering,
As time went on, other achievements could be reported. According to a proposal for a supplementary grant, dated January 3, 1958, there were 464 participants in the project of whom 20 percent were South Deering residents. The local community was contributing $2,000 per year toward costs. Gains were also being made with respect to community attitudes. In a session with the staff of the South Deering Bulletin, it was agreed that the work with the Trumbull Park project was a good thing although there was no agreement about the black aspect. On another front, Cope, center director, was chosen chairman of a South Chicago Chamber of Commerce Committee and was elected first vice-president of the South Chicago Kiwanis Club, becoming president in 1959.
A great deal of progress was made with the Sparks Club comprised of boys fifteen to seventeen years of age, some of whom had been at training school. The club had twenty members, of whom twelve were from South Deering and eight from Trumbull Park Homes. After being doormats of the local leagues for two years, they won the Trumbull Park and community center tournaments. This achievement earned the respect of the community in spite of public awareness that the club had been playing in an interracial league. The adult leader was an auto mechanic living in South Deering. By October 1962, half of the fifty children in the nursery school and 15 percent of the 350 adults in the program were from outside the project. And there were other signs of progress. One South Deering leader was quoted as saying of the group opposing the center, "It is not accepting integration; it is ignoring it." Although an article appeared in the South Deering Bulletin urging local business not to support the center finance drive, contributions increased 65 percent over the year before. The superintendent of industrial relations of the South Works of U.S. Steel served as the campaign chairman.12 From a period when the cost of police details in Trumbull Park was running at the rate of one million dollars per year, the project could report that there had been no special police detail in Trumbull Park Homes for three years.
In the summer of 1960, twenty-eight mothers had worked with six groups of children in a six-week summer program. No staff person led a session. The mothers included both whites and blacks, project and non-project residents.13 One of the more encouraging results was that teenagers who graduated from five years of program participation had begun to work in the role of assistant leaders. More of the fundraising activities were planned and run by the participants. An amazing development was noted when the South Deering Improvement Association (SDIA), one of the strong centers of opposition to the South Chicago Community Center, undertook to promote a senior citizens program through the center. It was a big step forward that the SDIA would work with the Trumbull Park Community Center in a program which included project residents. Again, Cope's principle had been vindicated: Hostility could be undercut if a basic need were being served.
The South Deering community saw about a hundred children ranging from six to eighteen years of age put in a total of 900 hours cleaning up around the community both inside and outside of the project. The interpretation made to the participants was, "You are a member of the club--the club is a part of the center--the center is a part of the community--you earn your place in the club and center and the community by being of service to it.”14 In a move to encourage a more independent stand on the part of the Trumbull Park group, the South Chicago Community Center moved to organize a separate board of directors for the Trumbull Park Community Center. And by January 1960 the Trumbull Park program had become an independent entity with its own executive director. A 1961 brochure shows that the center was staffed with a program director, nursery school director, nursery school teacher, nursery school teacher-community worker, family worker, four group workers and a secretary.15
Looking back over the project, Eaton and Cope summarized the results.16 (l) There had been an interracial program conducted on a daily basis for six years in the heart of the most costly interracial strife that Chicago had ever known. (2) The staff was integrated (requiring police escort for two years). (3) The project was governed by a racially integrated board of directors. (4) There was growing financial support from the local community in spite of vocal community hostility. (5) The residents found new hope and respect in rising to responsibility for the program. (6) The community was significantly reestablished. Thirty percent of the center participants in Trumbull Park Homes came "from across the street." (7) Residents found new opportunities to contribute to the life of many major institutions of the community. (8) The officers of the South Deering Improvement Association had come to the point where they would sit at the same table with center staff to discuss senior citizen needs. (9) Both racial groups in the community had a chance to contribute and did so. And (10) there were still many in South Deering who opposed the program.
Accounting for Results
They also attempted to summarize what it took to get these results. (1) It was essential to get the agency house in order. If you wished to have an interracial program, you must have interracial staff and interracial direction. (2) You must approach the community with respect. (3) There must be a focus on a common need and not on divisive elements. The program must be aggressive and constructive. (4) The best communication was through actions. (5) Rapport in depth must be built with the community. And (6) program building must be citizen building at the same time. We can see also that a principle stated earlier had been vindicated, that is, the idea that there are strengths to rebuild a community inherent in local people although these strengths may require nurturing by encouraging citizens to work constructively on their own problems while avoiding a focus on divisive issues. One way to do this was by invoking a universal concern for the care and training of the young.
We should also take more specific note of the ways in which citizenship values were achieved. In spite of the many gaps in the data, we can note the following: (1) Because of the hopelessness of the outlook of many families in the project, it is significant that they became convinced of the possibility of improvement and that they could make a difference through their own efforts. Their self-image improved. (2) All of the activities involved parents in planning, implementation and support (that is, money and/or work). Furthermore, their involvement was real, not mere window dressing. A steering committee of parents ran the nursery school. They planned the hot lunch program. They learned necessary skills as well as information relevant to their projects. A whole network of working committees came into existence. Parents were trained to be club leaders. The emphasis was on learning to solve problems and on the parents taking responsibility as rapidly as possible. In the first year of independent operation of the Trumbull Park Center, income from participants went up 75 percent. Parents ran their own meetings in accordance with their own bylaws.
(3) Helping social groups which may be mutually antagonistic to learn to work together on common problems is an important objective. Having succeeded to the extent indicated in so tense and overtly violent a neighborhood is a remarkable tribute to the aptness of the premises and the character, good sense and skills of the project staff. It should be reiterated that the antagonisms involved more than racial tensions. There was also the strong contempt and fear felt by a stable lower-middle-class Yugoslav and Italian community toward an enclave populated by persons who, for the most part, lived in poverty and as members of broken families. It is thus quite remarkable that many activities originating within the project attracted as many as a third of their participants from the outside community. For the nursery school, it was one-half. (4) The staff helped parents to become involved in working with the Chicago parks agency and the schools.
The record does not disclose that overtly political behaviors were changed, but that is less significant than the fact that the attitudes and the skills of working together which are part of the infrastructure of civic competence were significantly and markedly improved. The various reports record impressive gains against heavy odds. It is tragic to report, therefore, that within a comparatively short time, the whole program structure was collapsed. Shortly after the preparation of the report just referred to, Cope moved to Washington, D.C. The project was taken over from the Congregational church by the Rock River Methodist Conference with a new executive director, who claimed that a poor staff had to be replaced by a better staff and that new board members would replace less committed members. He concluded further that "friendship groups" should end because racial tension had lessened. Instead, "interest groups" were to be formed. Yet his own statement noted that blacks were accepted as customers in only one local store because of strong anti-black feeling in the area.17
The SCCC project presents some similarities to other programs we have reviewed, for example, Highlander Folk School. The similarities include (1) articulated premises about the role and potential of the individual; (2) emphasis on the importance of involvement of local citizens in planning, implementing and supporting the program; (3) emphasis on identifying a significant problem of concern to many and seeking a realistic and practical solution; (4) concern for racial integration had to be manifest in the way the agency organized and conducted its program; that is to say, the program had to have integrity; and (5) any organizing effort had to grow out of the problem and the means taken to solve it.
But there is a difference with respect to the interest focus of the two. The SCCC consciously sought to identify a problem which it would be difficult for people to oppose, at least openly; hence, a problem relating to the care and education of children was chosen. Highlander was prepared to help one part of a community (black) to deal with any problem even though eventually it might lead to a confrontation with whites. It would seem, however, that the difference was more a matter of tactics in the face of a particular community situation than it was of value commitment. But let us look briefly at the other projects in this group.
The grant to Hull House was unusual in that its basis was a locally initiated urban planning project on Chicago's Near West Side. Hull House wanted to increase the involvement of local residents in this enterprise in order to bring about more effective conservation and renewal of an area housing about 55,000 people, many commercial establishments and forty-seven major industrial plants. The area covered about one and three-fourths square miles.
Beginning in 1948, Hull House had invested $20,000 in the establishment
of an organization known as the Near West Side Planning Board. The NWSPB
was a membership organization with anyone residing or having an interest
in the community being eligible. Eri Hulbert, a planner, was the principal
staff person. With a professional planning activity underway, Hull House
in October 1954 asked for funds from the Foundation in order to maximize
citizen participation in the planning process. The assumption was that with
objective data in hand describing the situation and explaining various alternatives
for action, support could be generated for solutions which would obviously
serve the common good. This assumption proved ill-founded. The West Side bloc
(in the city council) was concerned to protect local interests, that is,
of the Italian community. They forced adoption of an ordinance asserting
that their part of the community was not deteriorated. At one blow, technical
staff assistance by two city agencies--the Land Clearance Commission and
the Chicago Planning Commission--became, on legal grounds, unavailable to
With respect to civic participation, we can say that overt discrimination in exercising the franchise was not a significant factor. But among the largest, most stable, and best-educated group (the Italians), there was no pattern of active, voluntary participation in political affairs. The bosses took care of such matters. Furthermore, the older, more stable population was fearful that developers would take advantage of the area's ready accessibility to the Loop and replace their homes with luxury apartments. The blacks, at the other end of the social scale, were concerned only with the effort to survive until they could get out. The Spanish-speaking had no tradition of civic activity either. The question was whether even a start could be made toward getting citizen involvement in discussions leading to decisions to be made by governmental agencies concerning the future of the Near West Side.
Very soon after the project started, Eri Hulbert died. As he had been the mainspring of the staff, this was a devastating loss. Efforts to find a replacement with comparable qualities were unsuccessful. Eventually a person with experience in youth work was hired, but his outlook was quite different from that of his predecessor. Furthermore, the political situation being what it was, it was eventually decided to restrict the project to an area contiguous to Hull House in which 17,000 people lived--an area in which it was estimated virtually all of the structures would need to be torn down. It was hoped that the Hull House Citizen Participation Project could train leadership, undertake block organization and try to bring together ethnic groups who were being left out of the process by which change was taking place--including the Greek-American and Mexican-American business communities. Hull House staff convened luncheon meetings of these business communities, conducted surveys and organized public meetings with speakers from various agencies who undertook to discuss in somewhat general terms the implications of conservation versus urban renewal and other related topics. The problem was that those who came wanted to know what was going to happen to their property and were not interested in discussions held at a general level. These efforts seemed largely irrelevant. It was only at the midpoint of 1959 that development of an organization in the area to the south of Hull House was articulated as a purpose. By then, it was too late to do anything.
In retrospect, it would seem that failure was probably inevitable. Paul Johnson, of the faculty of Roosevelt University, wrote an excellent history of the Near West Side Planning Board and the relevant Hull House activities. In it, he pointed out that very little happened at a community level beyond what the alderman, the Italian residents and the major financial interests in the community would allow.18 Another critical factor was the role of the city agencies which, in effect, decided what was going to be done with no participation by local residents, who had no influence on the nature of these plans except that the political machine was able to minimize or prevent clearance in some parts of the area. Also, there was, as Johnson pointed out, no institution able to play the role which the University of Chicago played in Hyde Park-Kenwood. Given the negative factors in the situation, it seems doubtful that much could have been effectively done by local residents to alter the course of events even had Eri Hulbert lived. In any case, it is clear that convening luncheon meetings in order to hear what professional experts had to say about change in the area may have been a service to some residents, but it resulted in no progress toward effective citizen action. The staff was unable to muster a constituency in behalf of solving some problem.
Kenwood-Ellis Community Center
Like Hull House, the Kenwood-Ellis Community Center project began with a planning approach to the problems of its deteriorating community. The Kenwood-Ellis area, lying immediately to the north of the Hyde Park-Kenwood community (where the University of Chicago is located) had seen a very rapid turnover of population as middle-class whites were almost entirely replaced by middle and lower-class blacks, with the latter increasing in numbers as middle-class blacks moved out in their turn. The newcomers were poor and poorly educated. Many had come only recently from the South. They were transient with a high incidence of social problems.
Because most of the existing housing was basically sound, the center thought a conservation rather than a clearance project would be appropriate. As a first step, it proposed that a series of survey reports be produced with the help of local residents. The culminating planning document would become the basis for a community organizing effort. A grant of $7,300 for a period of a year and a half was made, effective September 1955. A year later, a grant of $63,300 was made for a three-year period to enable the center to begin: (1) to organize the community to explore and act upon the study results and (2) to assist the North Kenwood-Oakland Community Conference to expand its block club program. The results were virtually nil.
In the fall of 1956, the NK-OCC consisted of sixteen block clubs. Half a year later, with a project staff of six persons, there were only fourteen clubs listed, of which only ten held regular meetings. The club members were virtually all middle class. The attempt to involve the community in discussion of its future was also unsuccessful, in part, because of the vociferous opposition of the middle-class membership of the Ken-Oak Improvement Association to a planning report recommendation concerning the need for public housing. In fact, the grantee was not even able to bring together a group of sufficient strength to warrant designation by the city to represent the community to the Community Conservation Council. Instead, the association was so designated, unrepresentative though it was. In the end, the Kenwood-Ellis Community Center itself was closed.
Granted that the rapid population changes which were taking place may have made achieving project goals extremely difficult, it also seems fair to say that the grantee did not show great aptitude for the task. I believe this judgment to be valid because the record shows no instance in which any significant group of residents undertook to define a significant problem about which it felt keenly enough to warrant working to solve it. The grantee seemed unable to establish a significant relationship with community residents vis-à-vis some problem of concern to them--beyond cleaning up an alley or preparing a tot lot.
Like the Kenwood-Ellis Community Center, Freedom House (in the Upper Roxbury area of Boston) was located in a rapidly changing area which had once been white. Its staff was headed by an executive director and an associate director, both with a social work background. The Upper Roxbury area extended over about a square mile with a population of between 16,000 and 18,000 persons. About two-thirds were black, the majority of whom were a well-educated, high-income group. A short time before Freedom House applied to the Foundation, lower-class blacks had begun to move into the area. The middle-class blacks were unable to leave because of the large investments which they had made in their homes. There was an inducement, therefore, for them to try to see what could be done to stabilize the area before blight should overtake it. This was, apparently, the motivation for the application to the Foundation.
Board members had held meetings to discuss community problems. Two multi-block groups had been organized, and two more were in process. The group had succeeded in blocking renewal of several liquor licenses. The application noted that the executive director had presented the case to the authorities in order to show "how a case is documented and presented." Unfortunately, the prophetic nature of this instance became clear only later.
Briefly, the application stated three objectives: (1) to change attitudes, that is, away from feelings of apathy and toward a sense of responsibility for doing something about blight; (2) to develop among residents an awareness that public agencies will listen to citizens; and (3) to provide information about and develop understanding and skills needed to get things done. Three program goals were identified: (1) to develop twenty additional block organizations by the summer of 1958, using dues-paying members of Freedom House as the nucleus; (2) to convene meetings to discuss problems which had citywide dimensions; and (3) to promote an organization enlisting the participation of block residents, churches, social clubs and the Roxbury Kiwanis Club.
Several observations might be made about these lists. Basing the organizing program on dues-paying members of Freedom House was no doubt an effective way to get started. However, it meant that the organizing base was limited to the middle-class membership of Freedom House. The reference to citywide problems, moreover, suggests that problems local to the neighborhood were to be of lesser concern. But, in any case, the problems to be worked on were being identified by the grantee staff rather than the people to be served. This situation was not inconsistent, either, with the expressed view that professional assistance was needed to help residents "think imaginatively about the program." The contrast with Myles Horton's thinking is obvious.
In spite of some reservations, the application was funded, receiving a total of $36,000 from 1958 to 1961.
Staff Versus Member Role
By 1959, nineteen new block organizations had come into being. However, a grantee report notes, somewhat diffidently, that because the staff could not do all of the organizing, it was necessary to rely on Freedom House lay members. One would think, of course, that such a development would be a matter for congratulation rather than apology. Another achievement was the organization of a kind of chamber of commerce called the Grove Hall Board of Trade. But it was surprising to learn that the executive secretary of this new organization was also the executive director of Freedom House.
The organization of so many new block groups pointed to the need to organize a block leaders coordinating council. But again we note from the minutes of the council meeting for September 15, 1959, that the assistant director of Freedom House presided over the meeting. If a prime purpose of the project was to develop the ability of citizens to participate effectively in community affairs, it would seem that an important part of a citizenship training program would include the opportunity to preside over and direct the organization created pursuant to the project. Evidently, the project staff saw their own role as an essential and continuing function in which a significant part of the leadership responsibility was to be retained by the professional staff.
In March 1959, plans were announced by the Boston Redevelopment Authority for a renewal project of about a thousand acres which would include the Upper Roxbury section. Subsequently, contracts were entered into between Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and Freedom House to assist the latter to undertake activities which would help "to serve human needs" in the urban renewal area. In the following year (March 1962), the Boston Redevelopment Authority contracted with Freedom House for community organization services.
Unfortunately, the urban renewal efforts would appear to have preempted whatever contributions Freedom House might have been able to make to the promotion of citizen participation. A report prepared by Freedom House notes that it was fortunate that the three workers employed under the contract could type because so much effort was needed to set up meetings and record proceedings. "Some effort might be directed toward securing volunteers, but this takes time which has not been available." Reference was also made to the apparent readiness noted for citizen participation. "However, it has not been possible either to deal constructively with short-range problems nor to give staff guidance and assistance to firming up the new block and area associations."19
Although the record is somewhat sketchy, the following comments concerning this project seem warranted: (1) The Freedom House staff saw themselves as the mediators between citizens and governmental agencies. Citizens were to be involved but led by professionals. The staff reported that in a two-year period from April 1961 to April 1963, 114 meetings of citizens, businessmen and clergymen were held, and, furthermore, the executive director and associate director of Freedom House were present at all of them. But was their presence always necessary? Was it even desirable, given the initial goal of development of citizenship abilities? The view of the staff was not that citizens should be helped to help themselves. And (2) in the end, the orientation of Freedom House shifted from, ostensibly, one of developing citizen organization and citizen participation, in accordance with the grant, to one of rendering service pursuant to contractual arrangements to meet the needs of an action program imposed from outside the community. It would appear that the citizenship project had become a mere adjunct of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Did the project, then, contribute to learning to work with others toward common ends? The ends may have been common to middle-class participants but what of lower-class citizens who were moving in? And, in a sense, the new ends concerned with urban renewal were imposed from the outside. But involvement may have been seen as a lesser evil than refusing to participate. Certainly those who worked on committees, attended informational meetings, met with block groups and participated in training sessions conducted by Boston University must have learned something about urban problems and urban planning. But evidence is lacking that citizens organized around a problem and learned to deal with it by dealing with it.
In conclusion, we can only regret the fact that although a significant organizational structure developed in the area, it fell far short of its potential from a citizen participation standpoint because of the way in which the project staff visualized its own role as being an indispensable director and mediator of the decision-making and action process.
The Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn was one of three areas which Saul Alinsky had recommended to the New York Foundation in 1950 as suitable for community organization activity. One reason for this recommendation was the fact that Colony House had succeeded in developing a Puerto Rican club with a membership of 118 families-an astounding achievement. In the fifteen years preceding the application, this area, which had once included twenty-seven different ethnic groups, had now come to be largely dominated by Puerto Ricans.
In addition to the Puerto Rican club, Colony House had developed a community center in the Gowanus Public Housing Project which contained 1,129 units with about 5,000 residents. About half of the participants in the community center program came from outside the project. This level of interchange was also remarkable. On the basis of this impressive record, the sum of $35,250 was made available for the three-year period 1958-960.
The stated purposes of the project included the development of a community organization, especially among Puerto Ricans, to encourage them to join with other groups, to help them learn how to deal with their own problems and to help them to develop leadership from their own community. In a discussion of the application with Sara McCaulley, director of Colony House, she expressed the hope that such an organization would help to diminish delinquency, help Puerto Ricans learn to function more effectively in an urban situation, promote mutual toleration, help people learn to identify and use the services available to them and promote participation in English classes and, eventually, encourage voter registration.
By the end of the first year, an organization had been formed with forty-two groups as members. Each had two delegates on the board of directors. The director was disappointed, however, because labor unions did not join, nor were there very many Puerto Ricans in spite of the earlier success with the Colony House group. An attempt to reach the unorganized through block groups had resulted in the formation of two such groups. During the second year, fifteen organizational members undertook a housing and traffic study on a house-to-house basis with the work being done by individual members off the organizations. A small grant was secured to enable a professional analysis of the data to be made. The results were incorporated by the city planning commission into its plans for the area.
Unfortunately, McCaulley left Colony House soon thereafter. The new staff made a drastic change in the character of the project, emphasizing services to ameliorate problems rather than helping people develop to the point where they could work more effectively to solve problems for themselves. In fact, it appears that a good deal of effort was devoted to casework activities, stressing referral and follow-up on family problems. The emphasis shifted from what citizens did to what the staff did. In fact, the final report prepared for the Foundation does not even make a reference to officers of the citizen organization. It appears also that, subsequently, the Puerto Ricans dropped out of the Colony House program altogether.
With the departure of the staff responsible for the application, the whole
conceptual framework of the activity was altered to the point of extinction.
Whether McCaulley could have carried the project to a successful conclusion
we do not know. It would have been useful to learn whether she could have
bridged the gap between the large number of Puerto Ricans in the Colony House
program and the few who joined the citizen organization.
Howell Neighborhood House
Howell Neighborhood House was located in Pilsen on Chicago's West Side, an area which in 1900 was the second largest Bohemian "city" in the world. After World War I, many Croatians moved into the neighborhood and, later, blacks, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans. Because of domination by a political machine, the applicant saw the area as one in which residents were only minimally prepared for civic responsibility. The applicant had therefore undertaken to organize a group known as Pilsen Neighbors, comprising local residents, clergy, educators, social workers, small businessmen, industrialists and employees of banking institutions. In addition to improving inter-group relations, the applicant wished to develop and train leadership among community residents to the point where they could "hold their own" with business and industrial representatives.
In the two years preceding the application, a number of active committees had been set up to work on problems of the area. The application pointed out that instead of merely criticizing public officials, committees of citizens were beginning to go to public officials to discuss problems and argue their views. They were overcoming their reluctance to take stands on public issues. The building of a new school had been blocked for five years primarily because of inter-group antagonisms. Pilsen Neighbors resolved this obstacle.
To enable the applicant to develop this program further, a grant of $41,250 was made for a three-year period beginning September 1955. The principal program goal outlined in the application was to develop plans for and to promote action on a four-block demonstration conservation area. The lead was to be taken by Pilsen Neighbors' Neighborhood Conservation Committee, an organization officially recognized by the Community Conservation Board of Chicago. Hence, technical supervision and staff for surveys could be made available by the board. The purpose of the project was to promote rehabilitation, remodeling and redecorating of homes. That so much had already been accomplished was impressive in view of the fact that this was a lower-middle-class area with an even lower income level than was the case in the Back-of-the-Yards area. Nor was there a major institution or important source of funds available in the area as there was in Hyde Park-Kenwood.
At the end of the first year, paid memberships in Pilsen Neighbors had increased from fifty to 200, but financial support from industry was still lacking. By the end of the following year, paid memberships had increased to 300, and business and industry memberships (averaging fifty dollars each) were beginning to be received. Small business memberships increased from five to fifty. Attendance at public meetings ranged from 160 to 1,000 persons. The block club program had developed new leadership. A second neighborhood house (Bethlehem Center) was contributing to the salary of the block club director. The Neighborhood Conservation Committee had persuaded financial institutions to begin to lend money for home improvements.
Nevertheless, there were disappointments. The organization was continually being undermined by a tendency on the part of certain individuals to go directly to city hall without involving the committees responsible for a particular problem area. After a great deal of time and energy had been invested in the four-block demonstration area, it became evident that it was too small to provide an effective demonstration. Efforts to expand the area failed. As a result, the credibility of the organization was severely damaged.
Unfortunately, the record ends with the departure of the project director to accept a new assignment. His successor never supplied the final report to which the applicant had committed itself. In spite of the absence of a continuing record, it seems reasonable to conclude that a significant number of persons gained valuable experience in the course of their efforts to study neighborhood problems, to explore alternative ways of dealing with them, to come to conclusions concerning various possibilities and to negotiate with city agencies concerning them. Up to a point, the director had demonstrated an ability to deal realistically with emerging problems. Under Ion Regier's leadership, the emphasis in this project was on the development of citizen abilities to deal with community problems. It is regrettable that his departure resulted in a termination of the record, even responses to correspondence.
Lower North Center
The focus of this project was in and adjacent to the Cabrini Public Housing Project on Chicago's Near North Side. Lower North Center was actually located in the housing project, using facilities leased from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Its application was stimulated by the request of the CHA that the center undertake the development of a community organization to help integrate project residents into the larger community. The CHA saw such an organizing effort as essential in view of the fact that a massive expansion of the project was already underway which would increase its population from 2,000 up to a total of 18,000 persons.
By 1959, the Near North Side population had shifted from largely white to largely black, with many Puerto Ricans and some Italians. One-third of the families were on welfare. The average income was $2,500 per year. The average grade completed by adults was 7.8 years. The dropout rate in the high school was 50 percent. Participation in civic affairs was minimal, local politics being closely controlled by the Democratic machine. And, of course, the extensive land clearance and relocation of former residents which had taken place had destroyed much of the political fabric that had existed except for the machine organization.
The applicant stated a need to anticipate and forestall the growth of social tensions within the project as well as to contribute to the integration of new residents into the neighborhood. Obviously, the CHA had an important stake in the development of such an organization. To enable the applicant to work toward these objectives, a grant of $41,000 was made for the period 1956-1959. It appears, however, that very little was accomplished. Efforts to work with a tenants council proved futile because, according to the applicant, it was controlled by the political machine in the surrounding area which had its own interests to further. Although an adult education program was specified as one of the program goals, very little was done besides referring project residents to the activities of existing programs in the surrounding area.
The reports provided by the grantee record intentions and plans but very little by way of action. Although it had been the Foundation's expectation at the beginning that a citizens' organization would be formed, as late as the third year of the project nothing appears to have resulted. There is some evidence that the Chicago Housing Authority undertook to achieve its goals through other channels, becoming skeptical apparently about the likelihood of progress under the aegis of the center. In fact, in the fourth year of the project, the center director indicated that he did not believe that the time was ripe for community organization in the area and that it would be better to work through existing organizations.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the applicant did not know how to proceed to organize a group of citizens. There is very little in the record to show that the grantee was able to undertake activities which would result in the development of the citizenship abilities of project residents in such a way as to help them deal with problems which they had identified. In effect, the contributions of the center appear to have been limited to the kinds of building centered services to be found in a typical settlement house program.
So, for the expenditure of $382,700 through seven neighborhood house grantees, there is only one project which can be considered to have been a success (though Sara McCaulley did achieve something at Colony House). Why did the SCCC project succeed? Several points can be made. (1) Service was seen as a means to an end, not the end itself. The starting point was to be activities beneficial in themselves, which required adult participation and which virtually all adults would acknowledge as beneficial. Thus, a nursery school was organized, which necessarily involved parents who began to take part on an increasing scale. Next, parents were asked to work with school-age children in a club program. Finally, a club program was started for older citizens which they were expected to run. (2) The adults worked with were persons who had a genuine interest in the activities undertaken. (3) The participants were given every opportunity to take responsibility for the program, learning how to cope as they worked. And (4) while refusing to seek opportunities for confrontation on the racial issue, there was no doubt in the community's mind what the SCCC policy was. Its staff and program would be integrated. While a confrontation was not sought for its own sake, neither was it avoided. The confidence and trust of the participants was not compromised.
As a result, the project grew to involve a significant number of residents, both black and white, both from the housing project and from South Deering. Its success is a tribute to the clear thinking, ingenuity and courage of a social worker who knew how to use group-work concepts to encourage and teach responsible behavior on a community basis in the real world. Everett Cope and his staff were prepared to act on the basis of sound principles and not just talk about action. The principles which worked for the SCCC were not employed by the other neighborhood houses--except for a time and to some degree, at least, in Pilsen.
The second category of grantees included voluntary organizations which were not building-centered as were neighborhood houses. Although the sponsors of these projects differed significantly from one another in their origins, structure and program focus, they shared a concern for assisting groups of citizens to achieve certain goals invested with a public character.
The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) was a spontaneous development
organized by citizens to improve the quality of life in its community (which
included about 75,000 persons) on an interracial basis. The Citizens Planning
and Housing Association of Baltimore (CPHA) was also citizen-initiated but
depended upon membership drawn principally from the ranks of a professional
group (especially attorneys) to promote the public interest in the fields
of planning, zoning and housing. The Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago
(WCMC) was an umbrella organization encompassing social work agencies and
associations. Its project sought to assist citizen groups to deal with problems
of urban neighborhoods. The United Community Fund of San Francisco (UCF)
project was similar to the Welfare Council project in Chicago except that
it employed staff to promote citizen organizations on a pilot basis in only
two San Francisco neighborhoods. The Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council
of Chicago (MHPC) was similar in some respects to the CPHA but was much more
closely tied to business and the real estate field and not concerned to broaden
its dues-paying membership through its project. The MHPC grant enabled it
to provide technical information on urban conservation and renewal and on
planning, zoning and housing to community groups. The Better Housing League
of Cincinnati (BHL) resembled the MHPC more closely than it did any of the
other grantees insofar as its own makeup was concerned, but the BHL project
was quite different in that it involved hiring staff to organize residents
of a deteriorating neighborhood.
It should be recalled, of course, that there were other projects such as the Butte Citizens Program (BCP), the Citizens Federation of Lackawanna (CFL) and the Chelsea Community Council (CCC), which were broadly based membership organizations also. They were treated separately above, however, as instances of attempts to apply IAF principles in their respective localities.
The six grantees in this category had, for the most part, applied to the Foundation on the ground of an expressed wish to do something through citizen organization to cope with the accelerating urban deterioration which began to characterize our major cities after World War II. As with neighborhood houses, an additional stimulus was the requirement of citizen participation as a condition of grant funding in certain federal program categories involving urban renewal among others. The CPHA was an exception in this category, however, because the intent of its project was to build membership in Baltimore County as a basis for influencing the adoption and application off planning and zoning regulations designed to further the public interest.
Of the six grantees in the category treated here, only one (the HP-KCC) can be considered to have achieved its goals in substantial measure-although it must be acknowledged that it is unlikely these goals could have been achieved if parallel efforts in the community had not been conducted by the South East Chicago Commission and the University of Chicago. On the other hand, without the conference, the community would have turned out to be quite different from what it is, especially with respect to its interracial character.
Lying north of the Midway, the site of the 1893 World's Fair, the Hyde Park-Kenwood community is bordered on the east by Lake Michigan and includes the campus of the University of Chicago as well as other educational and social institutions. The community had experienced rapid residential growth following the Chicago fire of 1871 and subsequent development concomitant with the 1893 World's Fair. But after World War II much of this housing had begun to deteriorate. Many in the area also saw a threat from increasing black occupancy.
Indicative of the enormous pressure on Hyde Park-Kenwood are the data on the rise of the nonwhite population in Chicago, from 280,000 in 1940 to 509,000 in 1950, and to 749,000 in 1957. Many of these new citizens disembarked at the Illinois Central station only three blocks south of the Midway and tried to find housing in the great central ghetto just to the west of Hyde Park-Kenwood. Between 1950 and 1956, the population of Hyde Park-Kenwood increased modestly from about 72,000 to 75,000, but the percentage of nonwhites increased in the same period from 6.1 percent to 36.7 percent.21
On the basis of urban experience elsewhere, it was a reasonable expectation that the pace of nonwhite occupancy would increase and whites would flee. And because realtors believed that black occupancy would inevitably result in a slum, their influence on a day-to-day basis was exerted against the idea of an interracial community. Speculators could make enormous sums by "busting" blocks, or they could deliberately reduce maintenance in white-occupied buildings to drive the tenants out so that, through illegal conversions, they could profit by exploitation of the desperate need of blacks for housing.22
But Hyde Park-Kenwood was not a typical Chicago community. In part because the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, national headquarters of professional associations such as the American Bar Association and other institutions were located in the area, there was a significant concentration of residents of a somewhat more liberal attitude than is usual in many Chicago neighborhoods Almost all of the residents were in white-collar occupations with a high percentage of professionals. The educational level was three and a half years above the Chicago average.23
The outlook of the area residents and the vested interests of the University of Chicago and other local institutions made it unlikely that deterioration and blight would occur without any attempt to change the trend. And determined efforts to forestall the otherwise inevitable were undertaken. There were, in fact, at least two separate programs at work-differing in premises, goals and methods but gradually coming closer together because each needed the other. The history of what took place in Hyde Park-Kenwood subsequently is well told in books by Julia Abrahamson and by Peter Rossi and Robert Dentler.24The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) began, following some initiatives involving the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, faculty of the university, the Social Order Committee of the 57th Street Meeting of Friends (Quakers), the KAM temple and the Unitarian church, when a meeting was convened on November 8, 1949, to discuss what might be done to promote better race relations and to conserve the community.25
Following extended discussion of problems and issues, it was concluded that a steering committee should be appointed. A larger group should be convened later, but invitations should be limited to those who would in general share the objectives of the group then present. The next meeting, held less than a month later, attracted 300 persons. A series of socio-dramas, arranged by Professor Herbert Thelen, director of the Human Dynamics Laboratory of the University of Chicago, explored various aspects of the problems in the community.26 This was followed by a panel of experts who pointed up some of the basic questions and problems and offered suggestions for action. Information and ideas were then discussed in small groups, and as each group reported back, their suggestions were recorded.27 After several meetings, the steering committee recommended to the community that the basic membership unit of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference should be individual rather than organizational.28
A number of significant premises were involved in the initial steps taken. (1) The answer to the threat of becoming a black ghetto was to build an interracial community, but if this were to happen, both races must work at it. It was recognized to be a white problem as well as a black problem. (2) Debate about racial attitudes would be fruitless. (3) Discussion and action must center on concrete problems which could be solved and not on abstract ideals. (4) By getting the facts and acting intelligently, panic selling could be prevented. (5) People could discover leadership potential in themselves which they never knew they had. (6) Social problems were best solved by avoidance of conflict and by the use of cooperation.29 In this spirit, conference leadership refused to attack an agency publicly with which it disagreed. Instead of dividing the community into opposing camps, it would be more fruitful to reconcile conflicting interests quietly.30 (7) Cooperation would depend upon full communication. Absence of communication would lead to conflict. And (8) existing organizations such as the Hyde Park Community Council which included the University of Chicago and principal property owners as members, could not act positively on the basis of an interracial neighborhood because the conventional wisdom was that "when Negroes moved in, whites moved out. ..."31 Therefore, a new organization would be needed, with members committed to the kinds of goals for which the conference had been established.
Although the conference included many faculty and staff members of the University of Chicago and other institutions, the institutions as such were not involved. Nor were shopkeepers, realtors and other businessmen. The latter groups were at best skeptical of conference goals or at worst blamed the conference for hastening black occupancy and destruction of the area. In fact, when conference representatives met with university officials on March 17, 1950, to discuss participation in the conference, university real estate personnel "indicated clear disagreement with conference aims of maintaining an interracial community."32They could scarcely be faulted for their skepticism. The problem to which the conference addressed itself was enormously complex and formidable. No one knew whether citizens could participate effectively in or influence the processes, public and private, which would be necessary if the community were to be saved. And unless the whole city of Chicago had an effective open-occupancy policy, which it certainly did not, could Hyde Park-Kenwood expect to remain interracial?
In March 1954, the conference requested a grant of $30,000. It was to be expended over a period of three years to strengthen the abilities of citizens in the area to work on a democratic basis in the solution of problems in Hyde Park-Kenwood. This was approved together with a supplemental grant of $3,000 for preparation of a final report. In April 1957,. the conference requested a renewal of the grant in the same amount. Instead, the Foundation made a grant of $24,000 on a descending scale ($10,000 the first year, $8,000 the second year, and $6,000 the third year). A final grant was made in response to an application dated April 12, 1960, in the amount of $20,000 to be expended over a two-year period. The purpose of the third grant was to make it possible to employ staff to involve volunteers and block groups in an education and action program for rehabilitation and relocation. The program was to be built around a demonstration house which had been rehabilitated and made available to the conference for this purpose.
The stated purposes for which the initial ESF grant was to be used included the following: (1) to secure the success of an effort designed to help citizens learn to deal effectively with community problems through involvement of people, training of leaders, and working out techniques for action which could be widely applied; (2) to solve community problems in such a way as to deal constructively with blacks moving into the community; and (3) to reverse the flight on the part of whites which would otherwise lead to further deterioration and to develop a positive program of conservation. The conference wanted to prove that "through citizen training and action, urban communities can solve some of their gravest problems."33
At first, practically all of the work of the conference was done by a steering committee of thirty-three, together with its subcommittees. Within a few months, however, it was recognized that volunteers could no longer do all of the necessary work, nor, without paid staff, could their efforts be coordinated. Also, it became imperative to have an information office. As a result, Julia Abrahamson was hired on a half-time basis in July 1950.
Before long, the original steering committee had become a board of directors, the members of which were articulate, intelligent, well-educated, liberal-minded persons, imbued with a strong sense of public interest. It was this group that had, at the beginning, defined the fundamental goal of maintaining an interracial community of high standards. Reporting to the board were the many working committees. (In 1957-1958, the conference had seven committees concerned with program and nine concerned with administrative matters.) Committees played a very significant part in the conference. The early structure included committees on code enforcement, community survey, block organization, employment and restaurants and hotels. The emphasis of the last two groups was on identifying evidence of discrimination and bringing pressure to stop it. Such pressure, of course, was contrary to the principle urged by Thelen, that is, that cooperation with groups and individuals must be sought on the basis of concrete proposals that recognized their interests as well as one's own. Mere moralizing was likely to be counterproductive. This view eventually prevailed and the employment, and hotel and restaurant committees were dropped. "But it took several years to overcome the deep resentment left by early mistakes."34
Dropping these two committees did not eliminate problems arising from differences between the board and its committees, however. This was especially true of two committees, the Public Schools Committee and the Block Steering Committee (of which more will be said below). They differed from other committees in that they were not appointed by the board chair, were more militant, and tended to act on the basis of their own views of the situation. Differences with the PSC were resolved ultimately but were never entirely resolved with the BSC.
The Block Program. In part because it promised to be an effective way to restore communication--deemed essential if the conference were to achieve its goals--it was decided to undertake a broad program of block organization. The assumption was that through improved communication, neighbors could get facts and make intelligent decisions based on them, and because neighbors could deal with their fears and concerns together, they could draw support from one another in the interest of making long-range commitments.35
Much of the theory and practice of block organization evolved along with the development of the conference. The basic principle, for Thelen, was that activity should be focused on a concrete problem which affected enough people to ensure that a group could be organized. The basis of organization was not that people lived in the same area but that they shared a common concern. Furthermore, in his view, it was futile to organize to influence attitudes about, for example, a new black neighbor on the block. But to talk about including him in an effort to help maintain the block would be a reasonable goal.
Thelen and Sarchet identified other principles especially applicable to
block leadership, including the following: (1) there is a need for recognition
of one's participation; (2) a block must work on "felt" problems; (3) leadership
must be a team function; (4) organizing is most readily done through friends;
(5) membership should be based on ability to work; (6) discussion in block
meetings must be focused on concrete problems; (7) decisions should be continuously
reviewed in the light of results of ongoing action; and (8) each group must
decide what "autonomy" means in relation to its own "parent" organization.36
The latter point will be discussed further below because its implications
became a serious issue. But in spite of difficulties, the block organizing
effort continued. As of August 1953, there were 165 block strips organized
into thirty-seven groups; within a year there were 205 block strips in forty-seven
block organizations. "Yet," according to Abrahamson, "wider and more effective
coverage of the community was essential to the attainment of conference goals.
Professional staff help was imperative. This was finally made possible by
grants from the Emil Schwarzhaupt and Weiboldt foundations, with two block
directors being employed in the fall of 1954."37
A sampling of block group activities would show a wide range: conversion of a trash-laden lot into a playground; paint-up, fix-up campaigns; sidewalk repair; providing crossing guards; getting rid of abandoned cars; planting trees; exercising local option procedures against spread of taverns; investigating rumors and disseminating facts; developing youth programs; holding meetings on care of grounds; noise control; getting information on illegal conversions; setting standards for truck deliveries and trash deliveries; and many more. Some problems, however, were beyond the capability of a block group to solve, and encouraging block groups to choose realistic goals became a continuing part of the staff worker's job.
With the availability of paid staff to work with block groups, beginning in the fall, 1954, much more help could be given to block leaders and groups. Indeed, servicing block leaders in a multitude of ways became a major staff responsibility. They tried to keep in touch, offered encouragement and guidance and reported developments affecting the block groups and the relevant action taken by the conference office at their request. A significant point was that the executive director might take responsibility for presenting a request on behalf of a block group or groups to, for example, a city agency. In Abrahamson's view, "the prestige of the conference and the wider channels of action provided through its office made the work of the block groups more effective."38 We may ask, however, whether the opportunity for the citizen to learn was not diminished thereby, even though the staff person could make a more articulate or polished presentation. Furthermore, the action taken became less a part of the block groups' program than it would otherwise have been. The practice was in sharp contrast with that in the Community Service Organization program in California where the staff saw part of its task as training group leaders to present and argue the organization's case.
An important move in the development of the conference program, as already noted, was the setting up of "community clinics" to train block leaders, a step strongly encouraged by Herbert Thelen. For fifteen months beginning in February 1952, clinics were held each three weeks for a year and monthly thereafter by Thelen, assisted by Bettie Sarchet. After that, the Block Steering Committee (BSC) took responsibility for the clinics with the emphasis shifting to include opportunities to exchange information on block problems and ways of dealing with them, particularly as they were affected by community-wide or citywide considerations.
Block Groups in the Conference Structure. As the conference program developed, the strains inherent in its structure became evident. Control was vested in a board elected by several thousand dues-paying members. At the same time, thousands of residents belonged (presumably on an informal basis) to block groups. A relatively small portion (perhaps 20 to 40 percent) of the latter were dues-paying members of the conference. Organization of block groups was promoted by the conference, services were provided to them by conference staff and the importance of their functions was recognized. But formally, the only "constitutional" connection was through the election by the Block Steering Committee (made up of the chosen chairperson of each block group) of two of its members to serve on the conference board.
The BSC was close to issues at the most local level, including the impact of demolition. It "represented" in a way a large number of residents. It is understandable that the BSC should feel that a majority vote of its members on an issue in which it felt a vital interest should be controlling. The position of the board in this matter was that not all conference members lived in blocks; hence, the BSC could not represent all the residents. Nor did all block leaders participate in BSC meetings. The board asked, further, whether block leaders spoke for the blocks or for themselves. If for their blocks, how was the position arrived at? At times, possibly often, only a few block residents may have participated. Most of the block leaders as well as their constituents were not dues-paying members of the conference. Furthermore, block leaders tended to be interested primarily in the block in which they lived and were less well prepared to make judgments for the wider community. At the root of this view was the fact that the board reflected the interests of those who were committed above all to the founding principle: achieving an interracial community of high standards.
The board argued that important questions could not be settled by a public opinion poll or even by a majority vote outside of the "informed central governing body." While the board agreed that it should always weigh community opinion, it was felt that a function of leadership was to guide: "Democracy does not mean that everyone must decide everything. Certain responsibilities have to be delegated." The board held to its position that it was the sole policy-making body. Contacts with top officials were to be made by the board together with the executive director. Block groups and PTA groups could speak for themselves. "But no committee could act on behalf of the conference unless the program of action had been approved in advance by the board."39 The process of decision making seemed to be primarily if not exclusively directed from the top down.
We have then an organization presumably committed to democratic process but one in which some were more equal than others. Granted that the conference, in fact, achieved democratic practice to an unusual degree, there was a significant element of paternalism in the attitude and policy-making procedures of the board. In some cases, block groups disavowed the conference and split away because of opposition to the final renewal plan. But on the whole, this unusual relationship worked.
Financing the Conference
The March 1954 application to the ESF had stated that the conference had a membership of 1,500 persons, who had paid dues of five dollars each. An additional 1,200 persons contributed time as volunteers. Some 200 block strips out of a possible 305 had been organized. Membership in block organizations varied from fourteen to 150. (A block strip was defined as one side of a street a block long. Several block strips might join together to form a single block organization.) To hold all of this together, the application asked for support of a full-time block director, a part-time project advisor to help with multi-block projects and a full-time supervisor of volunteer activity. This was an ambitious program. It is no wonder that financing the conference was a perennial topic of discussion. However, this was only partly because of the need for financial support. It was also seen as inseparable from the effort to spread financial responsibility and broaden involvement. By September 1954, income from membership dues had risen to nearly $15,000 for the year.
Other kinds of fun-raising activities made their contribution too. For example, movie benefits over a period of years netted from $2,000 to $8,700 per year. A rummage sale produced $1,100. But the real value of these efforts lay in the wide membership involvement required. Nevertheless, in spite of these efforts to spread financial responsibility and participation, it was estimated that between 60 percent and 80 percent of those attending block meetings were not members of the conference.40 A further difficulty was that the membership renewal rate was only about 50 percent. A great deal of volunteer time was necessarily devoted to securing members and raising money.
By the end of 1955, there were about 7,000 persons working on various aspects of the conference program, and there were over 2,600 dues-paying members.41 In 1956-1957 a membership drive was conducted separately from a finance drive; over 500 worked on the membership campaign and obtained over 1,000 new members. The annual fund campaign, partly because of an effort to interest large donors, raised $35,000. In that year, the budget was increased to $60,000 per year. The budget anticipated foundations would contribute 40 percent, the annual fund drive 25 percent, membership 15 percent, individuals outside the community 15 percent and a movie benefit 5 percent. This covered the salaries of six professionals and four secretarial workers.42 In 1957-1958, the budget went up to $64,000. of which $22,000 came from foundations and $42,000 from the community. An important gain was that larger businesses began to contribute, a local bank giving $1,000.43 By 1959-1960, some retrenchment was necessary, the budget being cut back to $46,500, of which $33,000 was raised in the community. The reduction was achieved by substituting volunteers for paid clerical workers.44 But, on the whole, the conference was unusually successful in comparison with typical citizen community groups in achieving self-support.
A Data Base for Planning. If the basic purpose of the conference--to achieve a certain kind of community--were to be attained, conditions contributing to blight must be eliminated and the groundwork laid for improving facilities. It was necessary, therefore, to get a detailed picture of the community. The problem was to find the necessary planning resources to achieve so major a result. Fortuitously, a group of public and private agencies including educational institutions and citizen groups were discussing a planning study for a two-and-a-half square-mile area north of the Hyde Park-Kenwood community for a pilot project in redevelopment and conservation. At the core of this effort was the planning staff of Michael Reese Hospital. This group agreed to include Hyde Park-Kenwood in its study. What the conference could contribute was volunteer manpower to get information for the planners. In January 1951, two training sessions were held for interviewers in the use of a survey form containing over 100 questions. In a four-month period, interviewers obtained 1,600 schedules from a 4.5 percent sample of the area. Training sessions were then held on coding and tab punching. In the end, some 200 persons gave a total of 25,000 hours of time to this effort, which was completed by the fall of 1952.45
Abrahamson reported that although the community appraisal study attracted a great deal of attention, there was no response on the part of the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Planning Association or from business or real estate groups in Hyde Park. Nevertheless, the study had important results. The data became an invaluable base for the action to come. A precedent for collaboration was established, and several hundred persons, trained in useful community skills, became involved in working for their community and gained a solid understanding of it. The study brought new volunteers into the conference group and helped to publicize what the conference was trying to accomplish.46 But it would be some time before a realistic planning effort would be attempted.
Enforcement of the Housing Code. While the survey was proceeding, considerable conference effort, including participation by many of its lawyer members, was going into the attempt to prevent further deterioration of housing in the community. It was a heart-breaking struggle against venality, indifference, archaic codes, inefficient procedures on the part of the building department and the courts, and on and on. Nevertheless, a few successes were scored. When a new housing code and a comprehensive zoning ordinance went into effect in 1957, the necessary laws were on the books. The problem at the enforcement level remained.
In the fall of 1956, . . . in preparation for a strong plea for action, the conference analyzed the 147 court cases from the area which had been processed in the municipal court over the preceding eleven-month period. The combined fines for thirty-six cases had been $1,525. Only four of these fines were over fifty dollars and eight had later been suspended. Forty-four cases had been dropped by the city for various reasons; eleven had been discharged; and fifty-six were still pending, each having been postponed from one to ten times. Almost a year's work, thousands upon thousands of dollars in taxpayers' money and salaries to officials in the courts, building department, the department of law and some $10,000 spent by the conference in assisting these agencies, had gone into the securing of just about $1,000 in fines, and the bad buildings were still as hazardous, as overcrowded, and as great of threat to the community's goals as they had ever been.47
These facts were brought to the attention of the building commissioner, the department of law and the municipal judge who had presided during the period.
The conference again pressed for team inspection of all slum buildings and urged the inclusion in each team of an assistant corporation counsel who would thus be well prepared for the case when it came up in court.48
With such a system, the city would have a complete picture of the condition of buildings, and owners would know this. The need for numerous compliance board hearings would be eliminated, and the numerous reinspections necessary before bringing an owner to court would be eliminated. The mayor finally agreed to adopt the conference recommendations on a pilot basis in Hyde Park-Kenwood.
Teams assigned to Hyde Park-Kenwood inspected fifty buildings in the next two weeks. Within a month, suits had been filed against most of these fifty owners by the city. Within two months, $30,000 in fines had been levied against ten owners who were so impressed by the mayor's intentions that they brought their buildings into complete compliance even before they came to trial. By November 1, 1957, coordinated court cases on sixty-four team-inspected buildings had been filed in the municipal or superior courts, and fines totaling $51,645 had been levied in fifty-four of them....49
The commissioner of the building department was so pleased that he asked for an expanded budget to establish twelve inspection teams instead of seven, and the team inspection system became a permanent part of the city's slum-fighting program.
These developments also resulted in the training of many citizens in dealing with slumlord operations. Members of the community experienced great frustration but, at the same time, could see that their involvement had brought tangible results. Among the unsung heroes of this effort were the court observers: citizens recruited and trained by the conference to make sure that nothing would happen through inattention or oversight to defeat their goals.
The Conference and the Commission
Because of its key role in the planning and urban renewal program as it
affected Hyde Park-Kenwood, it is necessary at this point to introduce the
South East Chicago Commission (SECC) into our story. Also, the SECC belongs
in this account because it played an indispensable role in the effort to
save Hyde Park-Kenwood.
The SECC grew out of discussions in early 1952 about the increasing incidence of crime in the area. Following a mass meeting (called by the Hyde Park Community Council) in March, the SECC was formed with Chancellor Kimpton of the university as its chairman. Financed largely from university funds, it moved quickly to mobilize an attack on crime and, in addition, on violations of building and zoning codes. Later, it took responsibility for the community with respect to planning and urban renewal. Relations between the two groups were, however, anything but easy for several reasons. The SECC covered a much broader geographic area, including Oakland to the north and Woodlawn to the south. The university and the interests allied with it saw the conference as naively encouraging immigration of the blacks whom they considered to be the major source of community deterioration. The SECC was headed by Julian Levi, executive director, who took responsibility on behalf of a small group for action; the conference believed that wide citizen participation would provide the only solid ground for progress in the long run.
There was a sharp divergence of views on the use of pressure tactics. The resistance of conference leadership to the use of coercion instead of relying on information, reason and legal measures was looked upon as weakness; and the theory of group dynamics on which the block program was based-- that since conflict is due to misunderstanding and ignorance, it can be largely eliminated by information and discussion--was regarded as naive oversimplification. Because the commission represented primarily the very substantial propertied interests of the area including the real estate office of the university, the commission could command powerful support with respect to police, code enforcement and legislative action. And with its tightly controlled, from-the-top-down structure, it could move quickly and forcefully. But its relations with the generality of residents were often strained. And even while the conference was trying to persuade the SECC to respond to its view of what the community should be, it was accused of selling out to the real estate interests.
As Professor Sol Tax of the University of Chicago noted, the SECC emphasized rigorous enforcement of laws, strenuous lobbying through political channels to get new or better laws and, at times, rather forceful tactics (for example, inducing loss of insurance coverage on a building and foreclosure). The HP-KCC emphasized education, widespread participation by community residents in decision making, use of block groups as channels of communication and efforts to promote better relations among the ethnic groups in the community.50 Another observer, Muriel Beadle, suggested that in a sense what happened was that the conference worked the idealistic side of the street and the commission worked the so-called practical side. However, she went on to point out that many people in Hyde Park-Kenwood gave financial support to both organizations and that the hostility which characterized their initial relations with each other was significantly modified over times.51 In short, achievement of a multiracial community of high standards depended upon an effective program to rehabilitate the deteriorated structures in the community, to prevent the deterioration of what was still sound and to reduce crime. Without the participation of the major propertied interests in Hyde Park-Kenwood, the basic goal could not have been met. On the other hand, it must be noted that the more idealistic approach of the conference with respect to an interracial community and its policy of cooperation instead of confrontation also appeared in the end to have worked and, indeed, was indispensable.
In March 1955, the Committee of Six, which had been meeting from time to time, was reorganized to include officials of the university, SECC and the conference. This group, which met weekly with Jack Meltzer, head of the planning unit, was not an altogether successful device from the conference's point of view. The conference would have liked to have seen the committee serve as a coordinating device, but the area of negotiation was limited. For Abrahamson, however, one important achievement was that both sides finally came to see that although unilateral actions may have made sense for the group taking them, this was not necessarily the case from the standpoint of the whole community.
Rossi and Dentler point out that the power of the conference vis-à-vis the two other interests was limited by several factors. "Without a true constituency, lacking the standard equipment of most interest or pressure groups, and faced with great diversity of objectives among members, and diversity of programs carried by the organization, conference support was too diffuse to be used as a weapon in influencing policy."52 Nevertheless, they said, there "were many points at which university goals had to be modified as a direct result of citizen participation through local organizations." Furthermore, the "conference functioned to provide the public relations that the university was unable to develop itself." In effect, the SECC and the conference had "a symbiotic relationship.”53
Planning for Urban Renewal. With an energetic campaign underway to forestall further blight through new approaches to enforcement, attention turned to the question of what could be done about the already blighted parts of the community. In late 1953, the Chicago Plan Commission and the Chicago Land Clearance Commission were asked by the conference (and the SECC) to study an area in Hyde Park to determine whether it should be appropriately designated on a map of blighted areas (pursuant to the Illinois Blighted Areas Development Act of 1947). The survey began in November 1953.54
The Planning Committee of the conference had worked to bring this about but, as a group of volunteers, could not itself undertake the massive planning task. In April 1954, a planning unit was set up in the SECC.55 A grant of $100,000 from the Field Foundation provided support for a three-year period. This was to be a joint effort by the university and the commission looking to the development of a "physically attractive, well-serviced, nondiscriminatory community where people with similar standards may live."56 (Was this not the goal originally articulated by the HP-KCC?) The principal technical input was to come from the planning unit except for that which was to be done by the city. The Committee of Six emerged to deal with questions arising from the work of the planning unit. But it was necessary to reconstitute it in 1955 so that the executive secretary and the chairman of the board, representing the conference, could deal at a policy level with Chancellor Kimpton and Julian Levi.
As the planning unit began the preparation of detailed plans, the Conference Planning Committee (CPC) became a technical arm of the conference, evaluating proposals generated by the planning unit. In a sense, its work was determined by what the planning unit proposed, including determination of what problems should be worked on. Accordingly, the planning focused more on the kinds of neighborhood facilities to be provided than on housing which had been the primary interest of the CPC. Eventually, the burden became too great, and after 1955 the CPC role shifted increasingly (but not exclusively) to that of reporting to the community on the plans and intentions of the planning unit and city agencies and, conversely, reporting community concerns back to the planning unit. Review of technical features of the plans continued but at a reduced and more general level.
Community Involvement. Reviewing the process of informing the community, on the one hand, and soliciting its reactions, on the other, one cannot help but be impressed by the depth and breadth of citizen participation. For example, according to Julia Abrahamson, in the two-year period subsequent to the first discussion with block leaders of preliminary plan suggestions, the conference had arranged twelve meetings with block leaders, 101 block meetings, seven area-wide meetings and twenty-one meetings with representatives of institutions and community organizations. This was all in addition to the monthly meetings of the Conference Planning Committee, the meetings called to discuss Hyde Park projects A and B (proposed by the planning unit for redevelopment) and sessions which would deal with the final plan. The conference estimates that perhaps 10,000 out of 75,000 residents in the community had been exposed to the preliminary plan.57 This was an enormous achievement for a voluntary organization.
Preparing for Hearings. In preparation for the public hearings before the Conservation Community Council, the conference had held fourteen block meetings and two large area-wide meetings in Northwest Hyde Park alone. Each block group testified on the plan and offered suggestions. They were "frankly recognizing the severe problems of their area and supporting severe action. In every case of criticism of the plan, an intelligent alternative was being offered."58
Of course, none of this was easy. Differing evaluations were placed on various land uses by different groups. There was the omnipresent conflict between plans for the welfare of the community as a whole and the impact of those plans on particular individuals or groups. To assist in the communication process, the members of the Planning Committee (many of whom were planning professionals) were briefed through a series of guides dealing with issues, conflicting goals, discussion procedures and the role of the discussion leader. It was stressed that the leader was not to defend or oppose the preliminary plan but to present the material clearly, help citizens to understand it, answer questions and obtain as many intelligent suggestions as possible to pass on to the planners.
Discussion leaders were to pose key questions and keep the discussion fixed upon these. This was not easy because the discussion leader and the members of the group often represented different backgrounds and interests. Sometimes tensions ran high, and it was difficult to explain without seeming to defend. Because block leaders would have a strong impact on the course of discussions, they too were given briefing sessions. The objective of the conference throughout was to maximize citizen participation in the planning process: to furnish information on the principal problems, to create recognition of the need for action, to encourage formulation of ideas which would go to the planners, to provide a method for community review of the ideas advanced by the planners and to establish a two-way communication so that the best plan would evolve by common consent.
An enormous amount of community time and energy was devoted to gaining information, seeking to understand its implications and considering how to improve what was happening. It was as though a great civic machine had been set in motion with thousands of operatives being trained to make it work better. At the same time, the question arises as to whether the ideas and standards of one group were being held up as the appropriate criterion for the majority. To the extent this may have been so, it might help to account for the theme that runs throughout Julia Abrahamson's book when she notes the gaps and the tensions which seemed to exist between the board and its committees and staff, on the one hand, and block groups, on the other. The picture is one which contrasts with the picture one gets of those groups which were organized by the Industrial Areas Foundation or by Highlander Folk School. In these latter cases, the effort was to establish criteria drawn from inside the group, and, in general, they were shared by the membership-at least until other elements with other ideas might come into the organizations. (In the case of the Community Service Organizations, the result of such ingestion was that they usually fell apart.)
Tenant Referral Office. The basic goal of the conference, an integrated community committed to high standards, was easier to articulate than to accomplish. By mid-1956 it was evident that blacks were replacing whites at a significant rate. In spite of conference and commission efforts, a "mixed" building tended to become all black although a mixed block could remain mixed. Finally, in September 1956, the board of directors of the conference approved a proposal to set up a central Tenant Referral Office with a professional real estate worker in charge. (Financial support was provided by the Division Fund.) It would be his responsibility to list vacancies, to encourage a single rent standard for whites and blacks, to promote better screening of tenants, to encourage satisfactory maintenance of buildings, to safeguard against overcrowding and to maintain a balance between white and black tenants. A great deal of time had to be spent persuading realtors that interracial buildings were feasible, provided that the tenants were screened, rents were not boosted and maintenance continued. It is noteworthy that about 80 percent of the realtors agreed to cooperate.59
To establish the Tenant Referral Office involved a difficult moral decision. The basic conflict was between maintaining the interracial character of the community or maintaining open occupancy. The decision in favor of the former was hard for blacks because, bluntly put, the real job of the new office was to discriminate in favor of whites in order to prevent buildings from becoming all black. This issue was, of course, related to the decision in favor of urban rehabilitation in part of the area in order to reduce population density and eliminate the worst buildings. As a result, the poorest blacks would have to leave the community.
Muriel Beadle, commenting that it took a long time and a great deal of talk before the community came to this conclusion, quoted comedian Mike Nichols: "This is Hyde Park, whites and blacks, shoulder to shoulder against the lower classes." Evidence of at least partial success is suggested by data cited by Mrs. Beadle, indicating that by 1967, the population of Hyde Park had declined to 55,000 from its peak of 76,000 in 1956, but the proportion of blacks had remained at 38 percent.60
The Demonstration Center. The final ESF grant to the conference amounting to $20,000 to be expended over a two-year period, was to be utilized for an education program on rehabilitation to be used in part in connection with a house which would be acquired and rehabilitated as a demonstration for the community. (This idea was developed in cooperation with the Metropolitan Center for Neighborhood Renewal of the Metropolitan Planning and Housing Council.) Block groups would meet at the house for briefings on what could be done to rehabilitate "rundown" houses. It would then be their responsibility to return to their blocks to stimulate and provide advice on rehabilitation of homes in their areas. The orientation functions would be handled at the demonstration house by volunteers including architects, lawyers, realtors and contractors.
The demonstration center was opened February 23, 1961. In the first two months over 1,000 block representatives met at the house, and rehabilitation of some two dozen properties was directly stimulated. Through a cooperative agreement with the Community Conservation Board, rehabilitation technicians had been made available, as well as consultants on design and financing.61
The Conference Workers
The Staff Role. The HP-KCC could not have achieved much on an all-volunteer basis; paid staff was indispensable. The community was too big, the necessary organizational relations too complex, the task of coordinating the work of volunteers too overwhelming for officers and board members alone to cope with the work load. The question was, how should the paid staff function? On this point, Rossi and Dentler describe the contrast in style between Julia Abrahamson and James Cunningham, who replaced her in June 1956. "Mrs. Abrahamson's activities before she became the 'prime minister' of the conference give some hint of the style she was to bring to her new office."62 They pointed out that her background included experience in a famine relief project in India, as an author and publicist and as a worker with the Julius Rosenwald Fund in the field of race relations. Her role in these endeavors had been an active one.
They go on to say that the paid staff enjoyed considerable influence vis-à-vis the board of directors. The staff customarily took care of negotiating with other agencies on a day-to-day basis. They "increasingly accrued authority to act independently of the board."63 Rossi and Dentler even go so far as to characterize the role as involving "managing consensus in board meetings."64 James Cunningham came with a different kind of background, having served as executive director of the Independent Voters of Illinois, "a political group with a vigorous, tactically oriented board of directors, to whom he was accustomed, apparently, to serving as executor."65
In the Cunningham regime, staff responsibilities became more specialized and decentralized. As compared with the Abrahamson period, "office operations were comparatively 'routinized,' sociability reduced and interaction centered around day-to-day tasks in preference to policy discussions."66 But like his predecessor, Cunningham undertook the negotiating role in relation to other groups. This was in contrast with Industrial Areas Foundation policy, as we have seen. And perhaps, given the educational and professional backgrounds of board, committee members and some block groups, it may be that learning how to deal with other groups was not an important objective. For many other block groups, participation would have been a valuable learning experience, but the immediate goal of the conference program was to save the Hyde Park-Kenwood community. Much had to be learned by its citizens to achieve this goal, but promoting the learning was secondary.
In discussing the staff role, Abrahamson had this to say:
The professional staff of the conference through the years have had education or experience in a variety of areas: race relations, teaching, housing, social work, political science, real estate and administration. They might have come from planning, community organization, group dynamics or related social science and education fields. In general, a broad education and some knowledge of municipal government were helpful. Where new and unpredictable developments were constantly taking place, however, character and personal qualifications were far more important than professional skills. Flexibility, good judgment, imagination, objectivity, patience, almost inexhaustible energy, the ability to learn from experience and to work creatively with others, a deep interest in people, leadership qualities and dedication to the goals of the conference were essential.67
Defining staff roles at the beginning would not have been easy. There were no precedents to follow so that under pressure of events and the need to make quick decisions, it is not surprising that there was a tendency for the staff to become more independent of the board rather than the reverse, at least during Abrahamson's tenure.
Note should be taken here of another category, that of unpaid staff, because in one sense that is how we must consider the role of Herbert Thelen and Bettie Sarchet. They were not on the conference payroll, yet they were not entirely volunteers. Aside from their personal concern for conference goals, what they did reflected to a significant degree the research interests of the University of Chicago Human Dynamics Laboratory. While their status was not a central factor, their contribution was. They were able to test in practice certain principles of group action which had an important impact on the conference program. Persons they led, directed or trained contributed in critical ways to the success of the conference.
The Volunteers. To say that the conference program would have been impossible without the efforts of a legion of volunteers is to offer a cliche; true but trite. Nevertheless, it must be said. For the first eight months, volunteers did all of the work. For the first two years, only volunteer effort went into the organization of the first sixty block strips. The employment of staff did not lessen the importance of volunteers; it simply made it possible to use more of them.
Volunteers performed many other functions vital to the conference program. They served as speakers before local groups, prepared exhibits for meetings and wrote brochures. They took responsibility for scripting, casting and rehearsing skits to inform and motivate those (about a thousand members) attending the annual meeting. Some wrote, produced and mailed a monthly newsletter. Over 500 participated in a membership drive in March 1957--a block-by-block, house-to-house effort. Over a thousand new, dues-paying members were secured, along with, presumably, renewals. (The fact that only two new members are claimed for each volunteer in the campaign is a measure of the difficulty faced by such a voluntary group. Given the resistance to paying money to support public interest programs, it is remarkable that the conference achieved as much success as it did.)
But in addition to these specific functions, vital program elements depended largely or entirely on volunteers. Early in the history of the conference, volunteers made possible the Community Appraisal Study. Volunteers attended court hearings on building violations. Architects familiar with specific situations in Hyde Park-Kenwood reviewed for the Building Department plans for reconversions to make sure there was no misrepresentation. (Using forms and methods developed by the conference, similar relations were set up with other neighborhood organizations.) Volunteers were also the core of the activities of the many committees which undertook to study the manifold problems confronting the area--gathering facts and analyzing them, reviewing applicable laws and regulations, meeting with city and other agencies concerning the conference conclusions, etc. And, of course, the members of block groups comprised the largest bloc of volunteers.
Recruiting and retaining volunteers became a principal responsibility of the staff and volunteer leaders. Information about community residents' interests and skills was collected, and the data were maintained in a card file, classified according to skills and training. Of all the ways of securing involvement, "sharing in the planning and work was by far the most significant. Providing ways in which people could function meaningfully as part of a team became a vitally important and time-consuming part of the conference operation."68
By 1958, over 200 volunteers were serving on regular committees alone. Additional hundreds were working in other conference activities, and thousands were involved in block groups. The record of participation in the work of the conference is so persuasive and so extensive that it seems fair to say that as an example of improving civic competence conceived in terms of study, action and evaluation of action by a middle-class community, no project receiving significant support from the ESF could reasonably claim to have surpassed it. (TWO was also impressive but with certain differences.)
Yet, a significant failure was noted by Abrahamson. The number of blacks participating, as well as the level of their activity, was much below what had been hoped for. Certain active black members advanced several reasons for this failure. Publicly identified black leaders were already subjected to many demands from both emerging black organizations and from interracial groups. There was a less well-defined tradition of public affairs service in the black community. Some may have been suspicious of conference intentions: Was black participation really wanted or was it just window dressing? Some were affected by criticism that they "wanted to be with whites." Also, the goal of an interracial community of high standards meant that loss of housing through demolition would affect lower-income blacks most seriously. This must have created a difficult situation for those blacks who wanted to live in such a community. Hence, they would tend to play down their own role in the conference program. It may be, however, that Abrahamson was discussing the question primarily in the context of the work of the board-cum-committees and volunteer support rather than block group activities. There were many block groups which were totally or largely black. Overall, however, it can be fairly said that the volunteer effort represented an astonishing record of citizen participation at many levels.
What Was Achieved? What Was Learned?
Was the conference a success? The verdict is not unanimous. Some people
were hurt in the relocation process. Yet success was achieved in breaking
the pattern of racial residential segregation which had characterized Northern
cities. In Sol Tax's view, this could not have been accomplished if racial
integration had not been a basic and central part of the plan.
Hyde Park succeeded in doing the improbable, not only because an old community of well-to-do, well-educated, resourceful and determined people wanted to continue to live in it, but because the liberal spirit was strong enough to convince people that their racial prejudices interfered with their interests, and because the action required was consonant with the democratic ideal to which all were publicly committed. It succeeded also because the need to compromise was accepted by enough uncompromising idealists to keep resolution from dying on the sharp horns of a thousand moral dilemmas.69
Tax felt that the conference played a critical role in holding the fort while other forces mobilized, in educating on the side of positive policies and in learning how to deal with the community at the grass roots.
But beyond solving a problem, what contribution was made to the upbuilding and betterment of American citizenship? Although the contribution is difficult to assess, citizen behavior of a sophisticated kind was clearly involved. Agreed that there may have been much that was relevant to the role of citizenship of which many residents of Hyde Park-Kenwood were already aware, we can identify certain kinds of learning which were needed and indicate what some of the conditions for such learning were.
Penetration into the Community. The conference claimed that in 1958 its membership included at least one in ten households. Including members of block groups who were not dues-paying members of the conference together with other persons who could be counted as sympathetic and participating, Rossi and Dentler estimated that one household in five was involved. A different criterion can be expressed in terms of the block program, which by the fall of 1958 had spread to 85 percent of the Hyde Park-Kenwood area with fifty-six active block groups, covering 350 block strips.
Financing Itself. Another test of the strength of the conference was its ability to finance a substantial program including a sizable staff. In its application of April 18, 1957, the conference reported that in 1953-1954 the sum of $19,000 had been raised through its own fund raising in the community. By 1956-1957, this amount had risen to $30,000. The Annual Report for December 1957, stated that the conference had, during the preceding year, enrolled over 1,500 new members to reach a total of 3,798 paid-up members. In 1957-1958, local funds accounted for $42,000 out of a total budget of $64,000, In early 1960, local support stood at $33,000 per year. Although more funds evidently had been expected, this is, nevertheless, a significant sum to raise in such an area."70
Although foundations contributed a significant proportion of the conference budgets, especially during the early years, fund-raising within the community was remarkably successful. This was less important for the funds raised per se than for the indication of membership involvement in ways that strengthened community understanding of, commitment to and skills needed to achieve the organization's goals.
Citizen Participation in Planning. Another key factor in Hyde Park-Kenwood, stressed by Abrahamson as well as by Rossi and Dentler, was the extent of citizen participation in the planning process. The latter, in fact, saw this as absolutely essential. "The first lesson that is to be drawn is that citizen participation provides the means of establishing what is the public interest that must be served by urban renewal."71 They pointed out that this indeed happened in Chicago but not in Morningside Heights in New York City. In the latter case, the only citizen participation consisted of opposition on an ad hoc basis. Also, they pointed out that the institutional leadership provided by Columbia University was weak. In Chicago, the question of consent could be tested and plans modified if necessary. A failure on either side did not endanger the total mission because there was a chance to discuss matters.72
In more general terms, Abrahamson and Rossi and Dentler saw citizen participation in Hyde Park-Kenwood as giving legitimacy to the idea of planning and as shaping the general goals of the planning effort. The goals of an interracial community and the need for low- and middle-income housing were kept alive and under constant scrutiny by members of the community. "Repeatedly they 'humanized' the plan...."73 Citizen participation kept planning from being exclusively concerned with institutional, commercial and traffic facilities.
So far, we have dealt mostly with community problems and what was done to solve them. But for the Foundation, the development of citizenship qualities was of more basic interest. And, in fact, as people's information about and understanding of planning expanded, so did their ability to accept the need for change even though their own personal interests might be adversely affected. They recognized the need to choose among conflicting alternatives.74 Block groups, which had tended to be concerned only with "my block" were eventually able to consider the interests of the whole community. In Abrahamson's view, neighborliness, once shared only with those one socialized with, now extended to those sharing common interests through block groups, etc.75
The gains in civic competence were probably greatest among the hundreds of volunteers who carried out the myriad program and organization maintenance tasks. (1) There was a great gain in information about the community, a process which only began with the Community Appraisal Study. Citizens became better informed about the powers and functions of their local government. (2) As they struggled to cope with blatant violations of housing and zoning codes, volunteers acquired an understanding of governmental processes including an awareness of how they needed to be changed. They worked, with staff help, to secure a team inspection approach, learning much in the process. (3) Residents as a whole, and volunteers especially, learned a range of problem-solving skills through a small group process approach. (4) They came to understand the need to analyze before acting, to make sure that the attack was being directed against the underlying conditions. They learned that the causes of a problem must be understood as a basis for a reasoned attack on it. And (5) as we have seen, attitudes changed. "Apathy, lethargy, and pessimism were replaced by hope for the future. People began to believe that they could make their community what they wanted it to be."76
It is clear that the HP-KCC program was a significant success.
The community was stabilized on a multiracial basis. Citizens were mobilized.
The most blighted areas were replaced with new housing and service facilities.
The conference continued as a functioning organization. What elements helped
to ensure these results? Some preexisted; others involved choices.
Preexisting Elements. 1. The community included a number of prestigious (and at least in the case of the University of Chicago, powerful) institutions. They had a major stake in trying to save the community.
2. The area included a high proportion of intelligent, well-educated, middle-income residents of liberal outlook. Enough of them were members of organizations and institutions to constitute a strong core group for a community organization.
3. Most of the necessary urban renewal legislation and funding was available to permit a project to be carried out. The significance of institutional power in relation to funding can be seen in the announcement in March 1955 that the Community Conservation Board had forwarded to the Federal Housing Agency an application from the South East Chicago Commission for advance planning funds in the amount of $200,000. The obverse of this announcement was the decision not to give preference to the Near West Side--a body blow to the Near West Side Planning Board and the Hull House Citizen Participation project.77 The fact that the city of Chicago could get funds was essential. Its willingness to make a commitment to Hyde Park-Kenwood was due in part to the power of community institutions but also in part to the vitality of community organizations, including the conference.
4. Although not a preexisting group, the fact that the South East Chicago Commission was organized with the powerful support and backing of the University of Chicago and its board of trustees had three important consequences. First, it meant that a tough, pragmatic attack was mounted against two critical problems: crime and code violations. Second, the real estate and other business interests which had not been willing to work with the conference were brought into the effort to help save the community, whether or not they supported the goal of a multiracial community. And third, the establishment of a planning unit in the community meant that the necessary planning could be done more rapidly than if it were done "downtown."78 But far more important was the possibility of frequent and detailed interaction between the planning unit and residents of the community working through the conference and its Planning Committee.
5. It was fortuitous that the Human Dynamics Laboratory staff was available and, indeed, concerned to bring its skills into play in behalf of conference goals. But let us turn to those elements which involved deliberate choices on the part of the conference and its organizers.
Making Choices. The following choices were especially significant in affecting the outcome.
1. It was decided to organize and/or involve those (a large group) who shared the goal of a multiracial community of high standards. Those who opposed this goal were not encouraged to join.
2. There was to be as widespread and active participation by local residents as the organization could engender. Innovative techniques were used to encourage such participation. At the same time, the knowledge and expertise of the staff, the board and its committees regarding technical aspects of community problems and proposed solutions were given full weight. It is possible that the value choices of the less well-informed may not always have had due consideration. Although a serious commitment was made to provide staff to work with block groups, it would appear that the board-staff-committee structure ran on an "inside track" as compared with the role of block groups in the decision-making process.
3. From the beginning, the conference chose cooperation rather than conflict as the basis for its mode of operation. There were instances in which certain committee groups acted dogmatically, but this mode was discouraged in favor of a more pragmatic approach. It was considered appropriate to try to identify interests of the opposition on the basis of which their cooperation could be asked, while retaining the integrity of the conference position.
4. Volunteers were seen as the core of the operation. A major part of the staff work involved working with and coordinating the efforts of hundreds of volunteers "who organized the conference, served on the boards and committees, gave technical help and advice, worked on their blocks, did the surveys, solicited funds, investigated, spoke, typed, mimeographed, ran errands."79What kept them involved was the opportunity for "self-expression, recognition, feeling useful and important, meeting new people, the acquisition of knowledge . . . [and the use of] leisure time for social ends."80 And, of course, the hope of saving the community.
5. Every effort was made to help citizens understand what was being proposed for the community, to keep them informed of developments and to provide a channel for their views. The result was a much clearer picture of what the public interest was which must be included in the plans. The planners acknowledged their debt to community residents who, through conference-organized means, contributed vital criticism as well as validation of their work. The Community Conservation Board saw in the community's presentations a model of what such hearings should be. And, "The awakening of the individual to the realization of this power (of a strongly knit citizens group) gave new meaning to the democratic process, new dimensions to the role of citizen."81
Yet, Julia Abrahamson expressed her regret about the separation between the HP-KCC and the SECC. But it is difficult to see how the university, with its manifold interests and with the threat of loss of its enormous investment in facilities if the community were not salvaged, could have accepted becoming one organization among many in a single umbrella organization. And, in any case, the differences about goals and tactics would not have been eliminated merely by forming a single organization. She expressed regret also that provision had not been made for organizational membership on the ground that more residents would thereby have been brought into the conference program. But to have done so would likely have meant diluting the commitment to the basic goal of achieving an integrated community of high standards. As it was, Hyde Park-Kenwood contained a large number of persons who shared the conference commitment; hence, a strong force could be marshalled, even without organizational members.
The most stubborn of the unresolved questions relating to the conference had to do with the role of block groups both as such and as parts of the total conference organization. A special committee, appointed to review the block group structure, concluded that any group calling itself a block club could be represented in the BSC, and practically anyone could participate in a block group. On the basis of these considerations plus the premise that the principal role of the block groups was to be a channel for communication and to encourage participation, the committee recommended against any change in the organizational structure. Perhaps no change was needed. Strain in human relationships is a commonplace and would not necessarily have been reduced by changing the structure to incorporate block groups more centrally into the conference. In fact, new strains might have emerged.
In certain ways, the Hyde Park-Kenwood experience was unique. The place and the time were idiosyncratic. The community was unusual, the concepts of urban renewal and legislation relating to it were new. Today, city agencies would be called on to do much of what SECC/HP-KCC undertook. Yet some extrapolation to other situations is warranted. And it is well to recall that the planning work was done more efficiently by the university than it would have been by a city agency, and citizen input had much more impact on the process.
Rossi and Dentler contrast Hyde Park-Kenwood with Morningside Heights, the area adjacent to Columbia University in New York City, where there was no network of citizen organizations. Morningside Heights, Inc. (an organization comparable to the SECC) had a four-year head start on the conference, but no overall plan had been prepared as late as 1958. Such citizen activity as existed was mobilized on an ad hoc basis to oppose whatever was proposed. Columbia University made no significant effort to deal with local citizens, unlike the University of Chicago which:
chose to emphasize the deterioration of its total environment and to under-emphasize its need for expansion. This tactic heightened the perception of the institution as performing a role in defense of the general public interest. . . . The fourteen institutions comprising Morningside Heights, Inc., chose to give priority to private needs--space for expansion and housing for their own personnel. ... Both populations (Hyde Park and Morningside Heights) have extraordinary reserves of human talent and skill, but Hyde Park-Kenwood has organized these resources. The most vivid distinction between the two communities is that in Morningside Heights no adequate machinery exists that is capable of involving citizens directly.82
Our concern here, of course, is not so much with urban renewal per se, as with the lack of significant participation by citizens in urban areas. Seen as a general problem in our society, this weakness would appear to have been at least much reduced in Hyde Park-Kenwood--and in Woodlawn.
Participation, of course, was greatest in those areas where the fewest changes were called for. But where citizens really worked and participated, they had a clear influence both before the plan was completed and after it was presented to the Conservation Community Council. In fact, some thirty changes were made in the final plan after it had been so presented.83 Nor did the Hyde Park-Kenwood experience end with the implementation of the plan. Supportive evidence comes from Ursula Batchelder Stone. In 1973, she reviewed the preceding twenty years of what had been happening in Hyde Park from the viewpoint of a member of the Committee of Five, which had preceded the establishment of the SECC, and as the first executive secretary of the SECC. She ended her article with these words:
And Hyde Park has, in fact, fulfilled its promise to maintain an "integrated middle-class community of high standards." In addition, its crime rate, from being one of the highest in Chicago, is now one of the lowest. But only complete cooperation at all levels has made this imaginative program possible, and although Hyde Park has demonstrated that such a program is workable, it still demands unending cooperation and vigilance on the part of the entire community.84
Of the other grantees in this group, only two could be said to have made any significant gains, and they were the Citizens Planning and Housing Association of Baltimore and the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council of Chicago. And even in these cases, the results were far less than had been envisioned, due in part to situations beyond their power to control. The other three projects in this category did not achieve their objectives. I will deal with them only for purposes of comparison with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and to round out the story of the Foundation's experience with them.
Of these remaining projects, the specific purpose of two, the United Community Fund of San Francisco and the Better Housing League of Cincinnati, was to organize community groups; each employed an organizer. A third, the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, undertook to assist formation of community groups or councils or to help them to organize more effectively by assigning project staff to work with them on a consultant basis. The last grantee in this section (the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council of Chicago) was not funded in order that it might try to help groups organize but rather to help them learn to deal more effectively with problems of urban blight, conservation and renewal; zoning; and housing-problems with which millions of urban residents in this country were confronted.
Of these five projects, the one which was the most directly comparable to the HP-KCC and had the most reasonable chance to promote a citizens organization was the project for which the United Community Fund of San Francisco was grantee. And in the period of some three years, two organizations did come into being. They were, however, so weak that they could scarcely be said to have been organizations at all.
In 1956, a study completed by a Committee on Neighborhood Councils of the United Community Fund of San Francisco (UCF), concluded that the neighborhood council was an appropriate vehicle to stimulate individuals and groups to involve themselves in the affairs of their community. The report characterized a neighborhood council as being limited to a local neighborhood area; as being an autonomous self-governing body composed of anyone having a direct interest in the locality; and as being concerned with any and all problems of the locality. This definition was intended, among other things, to distinguish the neighborhood council from a local improvement club or a coordinating body or the local expression of some citywide service.
About a year later, the UCF requested funds from the Foundation to undertake a pilot program in two areas of the city. Eventually a grant of $36,000 to be expended over a two-year period (later supplemented with a grant of $7,500 to enable the project to be extended for an additional six months) was made. The stated purposes of the grant were to help citizen leaders to learn to work together on area problems; to demonstrate that citizens could, through their own organizations, improve community life; that they would support official programs for physical improvement; and that they would attack serious social problems.
Eventually, two areas were chosen for further work. The first area was known as the Upper Noe Valley in the Mission district, an area of about seventy blocks with a population of approximately 25,000 persons consisting mostly of lower-and lower-middle-income whites. The second council was organized in the Haight-Ashbury district, an area somewhat larger than Upper Noe Valley and characterized by significantly more serious social problems. There had been an influx from an adjacent slum clearance project, buildings were becoming dilapidated and it had one of the highest tuberculosis rates in the city. The population was still quite heterogeneous, including conservative as well as liberal elements. What, then, happened as a result of a full-time staff person working with a neighborhood council for a year and concurrently with a second council for an additional year and a half.
It was not until the winter of 1958 that the staff worker was employed. After he had been at work for a few months, his statements began to emphasize elements quite different from those in the application. This shift became evident when, in July, he brought together a group of sixteen in the Upper Noe Valley who agreed to meet twice each month. The staff person remarked approvingly that he was glad to see that they were there as individuals rather than as representatives of organizations. This remark was consistent with his previously stated view that the council should not be built as the sum of organizations, which would imply the building of a force to press for solution of neighborhood problems. Instead, the organizing effort should have as its purpose the growth of individuals with respect to a sense of community. This goal was quite different from that envisaged by the Foundation which had understood that development of citizenship abilities to solve problems was the goal. This is not to say that a sense of community is irrelevant to the notion of citizenship, but to limit one's efforts to developing a sense of community is to ignore the need to learn how to deal with public problems common to the residents of the community. In his statements he also advanced the view that because growth can only occur through learning, it was important that all phases of community life should be the object of study; hence, study committees should be established so that the whole range of community life could be scrutinized.
Ordinarily one would expect that study would be undertaken as a basis for action, but such apparently was not necessarily the intention in the UCF approach. According to the staff worker, "a crisis or central issue is not always the best method of community organization. For after the crisis has been met, little remains to hold the group together." The chief value of a crisis was to encourage residents to identify emotionally with one's neighborhood. Resolving the crisis or solving a problem were not seen as reasons for organizing a community.85
In any case, by November, an organization had been formed with a set of bylaws. It is noteworthy that there was no formal membership requirement, either for individuals or organizations. Membership and attendance were, so to speak, equivalent. It was decided to conduct a problem census by mailing a questionnaire to 430 households in the Upper Noe area. Sixty-four adults responded, representing only a 10 percent return. About a third of the respondents listed the need for more police protection, about a fourth saw the need for more recreational opportunities, while a fifth thought that beautification was a primary need.
The next step was to set up eleven study committees. In the staff view, learning took place in the process of assembling facts and, we presume, discussing their implications, although this latter aspect is not noted in the project record. What was missing was a sense of the kinds of learnings that should emerge from an effort to identify a problem and the effort to get something done about it. In fact, on the occasion of addressing a citywide audience of social workers and others in September of 1958, the staff worker argued that a project-centered approach was self-defeating because as soon as one problem had been solved, it would be necessary to "beat the bushes" again so that another project could be started. He went on to assert that although an approach through survey committees might be slower, a more permanent ongoing process would emerge from "approaching the neighborhood as an organic entity, realizing that each problem is related to the whole of neighborhood life. ..."86 One merit of this position, at least, would be that one would not need to make any early judgment with respect to the growth in citizenship learnings from such activity, let alone the success or failure of the action to solve a problem.
The staff worker did recognize the possibility of sharing and participating in solving common problems and promoting common interests, but nowhere in the documentation provided did he indicate whose interests were to be considered as common nor how conflicts of interest were to be resolved.87 It was his assumption that unless a resolution for action were adopted unanimously, the motion would be considered lost.88
But inasmuch as there were no formal requirements for membership such as payment of dues, any community resident walking for the first time into a meeting from off the street carried as much weight as those who had been part of the effort from the very beginning. Hence, no proposition which involved any significant differences of opinion or any controversy could be carried forward by the council. Apparently the staff worker saw nothing wrong in encouraging citizens to meet and do work over a period of many months merely for the sake of the involvement in a process which was deemed to be a good in itself. Any effort to identify a significant problem and organize a cohesive group to solve the problem was not consistent with the viewpoint of the staff worker nor presumably, his employers, in spite of the references to problem solving at the beginning of' negotiations with the Foundation.
If we look for tangible results in the Upper Noe Valley, there appears to be comparatively little that one can say. A four-page mimeographed news bulletin was published over much of this period and apparently survived the departure of the staff director. A brief leader training program (emphasizing group process) was conducted for six neighborhood leaders from Upper Noe and from the Haight-Ashbury. A highly successful TB clinic was conducted after the council was able to overcome the resistance of the health department. A flower and art show was sponsored on a Sunday afternoon. The reported attendance was 200 persons out of a total population of 25,000. One may wonder whether the exhibitors were able to persuade even their immediate family members to attend. After a lengthy process of meeting with city officials, the council reported that fifteen litter cans had been assigned to this seventy-block area. It was mentioned further that the city officials were impressed by the friendly tactics of the council representatives. The Final Report also notes that about 150 persons were involved in activities of the council in the Upper Noe Valley and that of these about a third gained in some aspect of group behavior.
Given the decision not to try to create a membership organization which either charged dues as a means of eliciting a significant declaration of support or identified some issue around which interested members of the community would be asked to mobilize, there is no basis for determining what interest in the Upper Noe Valley Neighborhood Council there might have been insofar as community residents were concerned.
Turning to the Haight-Ashbury area, we find that organizational work began at the request of a young editor of a community newspaper, about a year after the start of the project. The project staff provided only very sketchy data on the neighborhood population, but many had relocated from urban renewal areas; others were much more affluent. Haight-Ashbury later went through a cycle of population change, beginning with the flower children.
After several meetings, a steering committee of twenty-one was formed in August 1959, which was later expanded to thirty-three persons. Plans were made for a community wide meeting to be held in October. About 250 persons came to the meeting. Five committees were formed, and 150 of those in attendance signed rosters indicating their interest in working with these committees. The organizational meeting for the neighborhood council was held two weeks later with 100 persons in attendance.
Because housing was one of the critical issues in Haight-Ashbury, the Housing Committee became more active than the other committees. It made a study of local housing conditions and undertook a field trip to an urban renewal project in Oakland. In December, the Housing Committee recommended that the city designate the area for urban renewal and rehabilitation. At the next meeting, those who feared that taxes might rise, that illegal conversions would be controlled and that condemnation proceedings might be undertaken turned out in force. Because there were no dues, membership applied to anyone who wished to attend. With the conservatives out in force, a bitter debate took place. The Housing Committee was then directed to give the matter further study, but nothing of any consequence occurred subsequently.
Although the Haight-Ashbury district had a larger population than Upper
Noe, only about 200 persons were involved at one time or another in the work
of the council. The council's most successful activity was its agitation
for a mass chest X-ray program in the community--a step resisted by the health
authorities. The success of this effort was a significant contribution and
illustrates the failure of agencies to recognize how their services could
be multiplied with the assistance of organizations in the community. But
except for getting approval for the use of school playgrounds after hours
for recreational purposes, very little more was achieved by the council.
In view of the notions articulated by the staff of what a community organization was for, one wonders why any of the residents of Upper Noe or the Haight-Ashbury should have bothered to join the organization at all. One can see a revitalized sense of community emerging as a result of an effective organization identifying a problem and waging a campaign to solve it. It is difficult to imagine that such identification would emerge from the mere study of different aspects of community life.
The story is not quite complete, however. There was another agenda at work and that had to do with the perception on the part of the grantee of the need for involvement of citizens in local neighborhoods in efforts to promote programs conceived by various social agencies. In the progress report of May 1, 1957-May 1, 1960, the staff worker, speaking of his own role, stated that he becomes "an intimate member of the neighborhood group and, on the other hand, . . . advises an agency how to implement its programs, or is the contact man for a myriad of programs that agencies would like him to sell to neighborhood citizens." The council concept was seen "as a means of filling a gap in communication between high level planning and implementation of plans." This clearly implied a flow from the top down.
In sum, for the staff worker, the hallmarks of the United Community Fund effort were: the importance of developing a sense of community (primarily through study of the community in contrast with efforts to solve community problems), the importance of being "all-embracive" in building membership including anyone who seemed interested even if only for a short period of time, the lack of any membership requirement, the rejection of organizational representation as a basis for membership, a belief in the offer of cooperation as a sufficient tactic and a tendency to ignore the possibility that there might be contrary interests which might not respond to an appeal for such cooperation. It is not surprising to learn that tangible, significant achievements were few in number, and when they did occur, they generally involved a goal (like the successful organization of a mass TB inoculation effort) with which only a few could disagree.
We may contrast this record with that of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference which saw things quite differently. It was prepared to deal with controversial issues. It encouraged those sharing goals to join by declaring themselves through a membership process. Study was undertaken, but in order to guide action. While the kind of confrontation preferred by the Industrial Areas Foundation was rejected by the conference, it was nonetheless persistent in pursuing its goals on the basis of rational argumentation. The conference believed in a certain kind of process, but it did not offer to the residents of the community process for its own sake, something which would have been viewed as frivolous.
It is true, of course, that neither Upper Noe nor Haight-Ashbury contained strong institutions which might have given vital support to a serious organizing effort as was the case with the HP-KCC. But the point is scarcely decisive because it does not appear that the UCF was seriously concerned with solving problems other than those potentially involved in getting acceptance of social agency programs. (Upper Noe had been selected as an area in which to organize, in part, because there were no strong controversies agitating the community.)
In July 1959 the Better Housing League received a grant of $9,000 for each of two years to promote citizen participation in urban renewal in the South Avondale district of Cincinnati. The grant was conditioned on the grantee matching funds to the extent of $6,000 per year from local sources.
South Avondale was one of the oldest suburbs of Cincinnati, containing a number of cultural and educational institutions. With a total population of about 35,000, the black population had increased between 1950 and 1960 from 3,700 to 20,000. The housing had deteriorated greatly. Because an urban renewal project seemed imminent, the applicant proposed to work with the Avondale Community Council to promote the participation of Avondale's citizens in the development and execution of the urban renewal program. More specifically, it was proposed to increase the membership of the Avondale Community Council (ACC) from eighty-three to 1,000; to organize block clubs covering 90 percent of Avondale and to secure their affiliation with the ACC; to procure the affiliation of twenty Avondale neighborhood groups and organizations; to encourage North and South Avondale to work more closely together and to achieve financial self-support for the ACC.
At the end of the first year, goals were restated: to achieve the reduction of juvenile delinquency by 20 percent; to improve existing housing to the point where 90 percent would meet code requirements; to develop new sources of home repair loans; to reduce environmental hazards; to effect a reduction in adult crime; and to increase health, better use of leisure time and social services. In view of the fact that very little was accomplished in the first year, this statement of revised goals must be considered unrealistic.
By November 1961, however, it was claimed that 60 percent of the streets had been organized into block clubs. But, after two and a half years, the ACC membership totaled only 322. A new membership goal of 10,000 was then set to be achieved by November 30, 1961. By that date, however, the total had reached only 963, and the drive was "extended indefinitely." By mid-December, membership was said to have increased to 1,200. There is some question, however, as to what this figure represented. Although twenty-seven block clubs with a thousand families were supposed to be members, it appeared that the clubs were involved only by virtue of the fact that their presidents had been invited to be members of the council.
In attempting to assess the significance of this project, one reaches the conclusion that its response to failure to achieve its rather grandiose goals was to set even higher goals. Although the purpose of the project was to increase citizen participation in urban renewal through the ACC, personnel of the department of urban development considered these efforts a failure. According to them, only two block clubs were really active. The ACC was not representative of the Avondale area. Although the ACC was supposed to cover North Avondale, the urban development staff asserted that the North Avondale Neighborhood Association did not consider itself as being affiliated with the ACC. And in fact, it became necessary for the city to undertake organizing on its own. These statements are based on an untitled manuscript supplied by the grantee without the expression of any lack of confidence in the validity of the report; hence, it seems fair to accept the statements made.
There is one further point. The author of this manuscript stated that the Avondale Citizens Participation Project was set up by the Better Housing League to meet the requirements of "point 7" (citizen participation) of the urban renewal "Workable Program." This would imply that the development of effective citizen participation may have been desired by the grantee but perhaps was secondary to the need to comply with the legal requirements of the urban renewal program. It is our conclusion based on the record made available to us that the project did not come close to achieving its goals. No information was provided by the grantee from which one can conclude that the staff was able to achieve any significant result consistent with the objective of promoting effective citizen participation in urban renewal.
The Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago (WCMC) was a citywide welfare organization but not a direct fund-raising agency as was the United Community Fund of San Francisco. It was, rather, a reviewing and coordinating group for welfare agencies of the city. In early 1956, the Welfare Council requested a grant which would enable it to employ staff (1) to assist community interests wishing help in the development of a community organization and (2) to consult with existing community organizations to enable them to strengthen their structure and program. Other goals included the provision of community leader training, helping the Association of Community Councils to coordinate more effectively the work of the community groups which were its constituent members and strengthening the liaison between its community groups and city agencies. In response to this request, the Foundation made available $130,653.33 for a three-year program beginning November 1, 1956 (of which the sum of $32,876 was returned to the ESF).
The application was stimulated by the widespread interest in Chicago in the possibility of urban rehabilitation and renewal. But the Welfare Council had had an interest in local organization for some years. having organized its Area Welfare Planning Department in 1945 and having assisted in the formation of the Association of Community Councils in 1949. These efforts had been based on a perceived need to get more local participation in the planning of welfare programs. But in the years following 1949, local councils had not only begun to broaden their focus beyond social welfare planning to include urban renewal concerns but their membership was also being broadened to include more representatives of business and industry, property owners and other local residents.
Looking at the picture across the city, the WCMC concluded that lack of professional staff was a primary problem of community organizations. Given this interest on the part of the WCMC, the Foundation thought it worthwhile to see what the WCMC would do. On the basis of the final report on the project, it was our conclusion that the Citizen Participation Project (CPP) of the WCMC did not make a very significant contribution to citizen organization in Chicago. In trying to discover the reasons for this, the project informational record suggests the following:
1. There was a continuing emphasis on welfare activities. (a) The Hegewisch Community Committee was helped to become a council and its activities expanded to include community problems while continuing its concern with individual counseling and group work services. In other words, it continued to be a social-welfare-oriented group concerned with social problems at a professional level. (b) The CPP staff complained that community councils preferred to discuss physical facilities problems instead of social welfare problems. But was it appropriate for the staff to try to impose its priorities on council members? At the same time, the staff noted that councils on the North Side and West Side were more interested in youth welfare problems than with community problems (for example, blight). This latter point indicates a possible further confusion in that the staff, being oriented to social work, saw youth problems as located in the purview of social welfare agency programs and not as concerns with which the community could work in a significant way through its own organization. And (c) the staff noted the value of using the local council as a vehicle through which various agencies could seek public support for their programs. In other words, the council was to be used to reach agency goals. This is not to say that local councils should not support agency programs. But if they do so, should it not be their own decision, made because such action would be supportive of the organization's overall goals for the community?
2. The operating principle for the staff seemed to be agency rather than citizen concerns. But if citizen concerns were not to be emphasized, then it would not seem reasonable to expect many citizens to be interested.
3. A sense of organizational realities seemed lacking. Three man-months of staff time were devoted to a study of what a Near North Side council should do. The study recommended a change of boundaries to take in areas with a greater need for "health, welfare and city services." Again, the staff workers definition of need was being urged on the local group. This is not to say that real needs did not exist; they did indeed. But the initiative for a decision should have been with the group and not the staff. In sum, nothing came of the study because "this council has failed to recruit and involve a sufficient number of representative local leaders who are willing and ready to follow through ... on plans to build a viable community council."89 One may wonder why the staff did not coordinate the trend of its study conclusions with the council leadership so that appropriate action to involve more leaders in the expanded area might be taken. To strengthen organizational elements was, after all, its primary concern.
4. The staff had difficulty defining its mission. Should it emphasize helping local groups to become more effective organizationally, or should it help them carry out some program, that is, render a service to the group? The staff itself saw this as a dilemma, evidently not recognizing the possibility of utilizing program activity as an opportunity to build the organization.
In connection with the Chatham-Avalon Community Council, a staff member spent two years trying to help it to strengthen its structure. Activities included a membership drive, organization of block groups, setting up an office and preparing public relations materials. In addition, a staff member was assigned for three months to help organize a local option campaign, which was successful. No doubt, a good deal of citizen training resulted, but we may wonder whether the contribution to organizational strength was commensurate with the staff time required. In fact, a fourth of the total staff resources provided by the project was allocated to this one council.
Another activity involved recruiting and training of residents for a "Citizens Building School." The principal objective was to develop a corps of volunteer building inspectors trained to recognize and report accurately building code violations. According to the final report, the CPP staff "made all the arrangements and promoted attendance." These latter functions as well as the preparation of public relations materials are what one would expect an employee or member of the group to undertake, but not a member of a consulting staff. Another example of this kind of service activity was the time spent organizing annual conferences for the Association of Community Councils; much of this consisted of attending to the housekeeping details of organizing and running these conferences.
Still another example involved bringing together representatives of seven community councils to form an Expressway Commission. The staff prepared a map of the area showing the impact of the proposed construction plus other informational material, thus engaging in direct services rather than organizational development. Evidently, it was easier to see the need for additional manpower in a local community and to offer to share the work load than it was to see how to provide the stimulation and training which would enable the local organizations to undertake these functions for themselves.
Notice must also be taken, however, of certain achievements with respect to improvement of civic competence. Citizens recruited and trained to make a land use survey for the Midwest Community Council (with technical help from the Metropolitan Center for Neighborhood Renewal of the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council) can be considered to have learned much about urban problems. They may even have learned something of what citizens could or could not do about them. The findings were later discussed at a community conference attended by some 500 persons,
Staff assisted the Abbott Park Community Citizens Council to form a federation of six subgroups concerned about a black residential area being cut off from its shopping area by a new expressway. Assistance was given to them in connection with presentations to public officials. But how significant these developments were we cannot say because we were not provided with the data needed to make a judgment. It would have been helpful to know how many citizens were involved and what the nature of their involvement was,
I do not want to overstate the view that the CPP contributions were disappointingly modest. But even when appropriate activities were conducted, the final report merely describes them as though they were sufficient ends in themselves. They are not discussed in relation to principles of organizing or to what citizens as citizens learned. Hence, their implications for the encouragement of organizing elsewhere are not brought out.
In sum, the project staff seemed to have difficulty focusing on the central concern of the project which was to help citizen councils organize more effectively. Its energies tended to be directed to providing services to councils or to the Association of Community Councils. The staff evidently found it very difficult not to succumb to the temptation to provide the extra help which local councils had erroneously assumed was the reason for setting up the CPP in the first place. The emphasis on service was consistent with a social worker's outlook, not that of a community organizer. This emphasis was also consistent with the view expressed in the project's final report to the effect that depressed areas lacked indigenous leadership. Evidence from other projects (CSO, Highlander, TWO) shows that this is not true. But, if one believes it, staff energy is likely to be directed elsewhere. The influence of social worker concerns was also seen in the complaint that local councils resisted staff efforts to persuade them to deal with social welfare problems as well as in the assumption that it was appropriate for the staff to assert what problems a council should give priority to. Rather than being responsive to the stated goals of the project, the CPP staff devoted too much of its effort to direct service or to promoting the same objectives in the same way as they would have done as members of the Area Welfare Planning Department staff. Before project funds were exhausted, the WCMC proposed to transfer a balance of $32,876 to the Association of Community Councils. The Foundation decided not to accept this proposal, and the funds were reclaimed.
It can be argued that the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council Project (MHPC)90does not belong in this section. Its mission was not to promote new organizations nor to undertake to change existing organizations for greater effectiveness. Rather, its purpose was to help existing organizations (and those being formed) to deal more effectively with problems relating to housing, planning, zoning and urban renewal by providing information, principally of a technical sort, and assisting an organization's leaders to apply it to the local situation, including helping them to try to get appropriate action from public officials. To some degree, of course, organizational tactics were involved. Hence, it is not too inconsistent to include it here--entirely aside from the fact that the ESF had viewed the WCMC and MHPC projects as complementary and as holding the potential for an innovative and powerful approach to achieving meaningful citizen participation in the more effective application of state and federal programs to the problems of our cities. But this hope was not realized."91
This failure was a disappointment to the Foundation. As the MHPC application had pointed out, four billion dollars of public funds were being programmed for construction and building in Chicago. Designated renewal areas totaled eighty square miles. On the basis of the premise that successful urban renewal depends on effective citizen participation in the process, the applicant proposed to provide through the many existing local organizations in some fifty neighborhoods of Chicago, information relevant to citizen activity over the range of housing and community conservation problems.
The Illinois Urban Conservation Act of 1953 made provision for Conservation Community Councils emphasizing citizen participation in the development and operation of the conservation plan, and the hope was that such participation would result in a significant increase in information and understanding on the part of citizens of a whole cluster of significant problems and of possible ways of solving them. To assist in this process, the MHPC set up the Metropolitan Center for Neighborhood Renewal (MCNR). For many reasons, the MCNR was not entirely successful in achieving its aims. In the first place, the many neighborhood organizations varied greatly in their effectiveness. Some had been organized for the primary purpose of opposing something. Others were not capable of raising the funds to employ the competent staff they were lacking. Some groups had been organized on too narrow a base and could not attract significant support in the neighborhood. On the other side, the city agencies were in most cases not very interested in encouraging citizen participation. Because so many agencies were involved, they were not able to respond to a given need in a particular place in a coordinated way. Fully as important was the fact that such action as could come from the city level was focused on demolition of slum areas to the virtual exclusion of any attention to what needed to be done to conserve the areas which were still basically sound. Difficulties were encountered with some of the neighborhood groups. Many of them had worked with great enthusiasm to obtain designation as an urban renewal area, following which, nothing happened except further deterioration and growing disillusionment. The designation of renewal areas went far beyond the availability of funding for preparation of plans and for clearance. Some groups assumed that the center staff were available to develop plans for the future of the neighborhood and were disappointed when they found that this was not the case. Another difficulty had to do with the problem of how technical experts worked with a lay group. The center staff seemed to be very sensitive to the possibility that leaders of the local organization might feel threatened or embarrassed if staff persons were present at member meetings. Hence, center staff tended to work only with the officers or board members. One consequence was that the members of the organization were denied the opportunity to participate in valuable learning opportunities. But perhaps the staff's concern was justified.
What kinds of activities, then, did the center undertake? They were many and varied. Much technical information concerning housing, zoning and urban renewal problems was assembled and mailed to leaders of about 250 community organizations. Technical assistance was provided to neighborhood groups wanting to survey housing conditions; groups were helped to make census tract and block surveys; center staff appeared with groups to testify before the Committee on Building and Zoning of the City Council, the Housing Court, etc.; neighborhood groups were helped with discussions of area problems at the Community Conservation Board, the department of buildings, the department of city planning, the department of law, and the Chicago Board of Education; special programs were developed including a rehabilitation demonstration house (with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference), a rehabilitation loan pool, and a leadership training program in urban renewal in cooperation with the Human Relations Center of the University of Chicago; and effective housing and zoning code enforcement procedures were worked out in certain neighborhoods.
In addition, the center staff appeared at many public meetings to discuss urban renewal and community conservation, and many articles on these subjects were made available for publication by local groups. As part of its public information function, the center prepared a slide presentation on urban renewal and a series of seven articles under the title "What Local Groups Can Do to Conserve Chicago's Neighborhoods" which appeared in twenty-one community newspapers in Chicago with a total subscriber list of 400,000.
These activities were rather general in their scope and impact, but there were other activities which came closer to realizing the hopes which engendered the project. One such example involved the West Avalon Community Council which had been formed to try to stabilize a rapidly changing, interracial area. The initial activity was a neighborhood clinic on housing code and zoning enforcement which was presented with assistance from the center staff as well as experts from the corporation counsel's office. The emphasis was on how to identify violations and to file and follow through housing code complaints with the department of buildings. In the course of the discussions, however, it was noted that overcrowding was increasing and the existing zoning was inadequate to deal with the problem. The center recommended that an effort be made to change the zoning in a twelve-block area so as to prevent conversion of single- and two-family dwellings into rooming houses. Technical assistance was provided to make an area survey of present land use. Public meetings were held to discuss the results and the implications for the community. Community leaders were encouraged to meet with the department of city planning. The alderman was involved and his support secured. Group representatives appeared at hearings on the proposed rezoning before the change was enacted by the board of aldermen.
As a result of this activity, the council grew in numbers and effectiveness. The group was able to get action on burned-out buildings, illegal advertising signs, better housing code enforcement and, eventually, rezoning of an additional eight-block area. These latter steps were taken by the group without further technical assistance from the center. This indicates significant growth on the part of a group of citizens living in a changing interracial area and is also evidence that the center was able to function in a way contemplated by the project where the necessary preconditions existed, that is, a viable community organization.
Other examples involved three different communities where the school board was preparing to build a new school or expand an existing one but in a way which would require the destruction of existing sound housing. In West Woodlawn, a joint council-center group outlined a search on the part of the community to look for alternative solutions. A suitable site was found which required only the razing of a burned-out building. In addition to conserving sound housing, the site would be more convenient to a proposed Chicago Housing Authority Project. On the basis of the local group's presentation, the site selection officials of the board of education adopted its recommendation. The Central South and Park Manor Councils were also helped to reach a successful resolution of a similar problem in dealing with the board of education.
These examples must be acknowledged as clearly relevant to the intentions and purposes of the project as funded. Unfortunately, the opportunities to function in this way in relation to community councils seem to have been limited. Although the final report is not entirely clear on this point, there were, apparently, but few community councils able to work in such a manner with center staff. Had the Welfare Council project been more successful in efforts to strengthen community organizations in Chicago, a larger base for the MHPC project might have emerged. There is, of course, the further question of whether the CPP and MCNR staffs could have worked freely and willingly together.
In the end, the center staff concluded that the obstacles in the way of achieving the purposes of the project were too great. The inadequacy of the neighborhood organizations, on the one hand, tended to be matched by the narrowness of view on the part of city agencies with respect to the problem of urban conservation and renewal, on the other. The potential of citizen participation in the renewal process was not even remotely realized. It had been the Foundation's hope that the Welfare Council's expressed concern for promoting community organization could be coordinated with the efforts of technical experts who recognized the desirability of working with citizen groups on problems of urban conservation and renewal and that this might lead to the establishment of a significant breakthrough in citizen involvement. But for whatever reason--whether the sheer scale of the problem or the indifference and lack of understanding on the part of public officials or the inability to work together of professional staff drawn from social work backgrounds on the one hand and technical housing and planning fields on the other--the anticipated achievements were not realized.
The Citizens Planning and Housing Association of Baltimore (CPHA) differed in several respects from the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. The CPHA did not come into being for the purpose of dealing with the problems of a given community and organizing as many citizens as could be involved in order to work toward such an end. Its aim was to try to solve housing, planning aid zoning problems on a metropolitan basis. Its method involved recruitment of young professionals and, to a lesser degree, businessmen who would identify particular problems, study their implications and possible alternative solutions and then try to influence public bodies to carry out projects in accordance with their recommendations and, where needed, to adopt new legislation to achieve the goals articulated by the association. Of the 2,200 members in the association in 1957, about one-fourth were active workers in the organization, carrying out assignments ranging from clerical tasks to participating in litigation to achieve CPHA goals.
Apparently the CPHA had been rather successful in influencing developments in housing, planning and zoning fields in the city of Baltimore. To the Foundation, it seemed to be a significant and valuable development that so many citizens at the beginning of their professional careers were not only learning a good deal about housing, planning and zoning problems and about the possible ways of solving them, but were also developing a commitment to public service. When the CPHA, therefore, asked for assistance to strengthen its program in Baltimore County which was suffering the consequences of accelerating urban sprawl, the Foundation saw an opportunity to make a significant contribution to citizen development of a potential leadership group. Grants totaling $41,016 helped support the program from July 1957 to March 1961.
The obstacles to influencing the course of events in Baltimore County were many. There was the sprawling character of Baltimore County itself. Its residents had no sense of common identity. The old-line political machines were quite unwilling to accept the need for guiding land development in the public interest, including the need to reserve open space. The new residents of the county for the most part continued to work in the city and had not yet developed any sense of identification with the community in which they lived. There was no significant structure of private organizations--especially of those identified with the public interest. The old residents resented efforts to prevent uncontrolled development, preferring to sell their acreage at subdivision prices. In the ten years between 1950 and 1960, the population nearly doubled to 490,000.
There was still another disparity. The membership in the city included many persons relatively secure in their professions. In addition, there is a certain anonymity about life in the city. It may have been difficult for the younger professionals and businessmen who had yet to establish themselves in the county to take forthright positions in the exposed milieu. The assumption that the membership pattern in the city could be established in parallel fashion in the county may, then, have been unrealistic. Still another commitment, which the CPHA central office itself questioned, was the decision of the local staff to concentrate on gaining members among neighborhood improvement associations. They tended to be ephemeral, and too often were merely defensive in outlook--uninterested in county needs. Despite the fact that ninety-three associations were members in 1961, the gain in dues income was meager.
Given these negative elements, it is surprising that even a few positive changes occurred to which the CPHA contributed significantly. To carry out the project, various committees were set up. There were committees on legal matters, open space, planning, program and zoning. The combined membership of these committees totaled ninety-one, including twelve young lawyers. In addition, a good deal of effort was given to working with local improvement associations.
The results were disappointing in several respects. The additional staff made available through the project were able to bring about only a modest increase in the number of dues-paying members. Improvement association memberships increased to seventy-six by 1959. But in the first two years of the project, dues collected increased from $7,500 (which had been contributed by individuals and groups in the county prior to the project) to only $8,000. Between 1959 and 1961, income from memberships rose only to $10,980. In retrospect, it can be seen that the resources committed to the CPHA effort in the county were far too meager to have a decisive impact on a rapidly growing population.
Nevertheless, some progress was made. It was helpful to have been able to consolidate the planning and zoning agencies of the county. Several local planning councils came into being. The CPHA helped to bring about a large land acquisition project for a park in one area of the county. A weekly column dealing with housing, planning and zoning matters was conducted in one of the two influential county papers. The CPHA office in the county conducted a zoning alert service for the benefit of local improvement associations. Agitation by the CPHA resulted in stronger enforcement of existing laws. It seems fair to say that perhaps several hundred people gained a significant amount of information about and understanding of problems, issues and programs concerned with housing, planning, zoning and open space. Nevertheless, the number of CPHA members resident in the county increased only modestly over the period of the project. In the absence of nongovernmental power centers and of a sense of community, no effective indigenous citizen group emerged.
Looking at the box score of our community/metropolitan associations, it appears that they did somewhat better than the neighborhood houses which were reviewed above. But in extenuation of the latter, it should be said that they were not conceived as agencies serving communities as such, but rather as serving individuals who happened to live in what was judged to be a deprived community. The associations, on the other hand, were all organized to assist communities to improve the quality of life within them in some way.
Be that as it may, in my view, only the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference achieved its goals in significant measure. It succeeded for a variety of reasons. It had highly intelligent and dedicated leadership. Its program was sound in reflecting a combination of idealistic and pragmatic elements. Although it rejected the tactic of confrontation on a power basis, it was not loath to take positions on controversial issues and present its case vigorously to city agencies. It did not seek to include any and all community elements, but actively sought the involvement of all who would support its goal of an interracial community of high standards. Through its dual structure of active committees and volunteers, on the one hand, and block groups, on the other, it was able to involve a broader range of community residents than would otherwise have been likely. At the same time, it was fortunate in having strong institutions able not only to bring pressure to bear on city government, including the police, but these institutions had the financial resources to provide essential seed money for such entities as the South East Chicago Commission and its planning unit set up to do the preliminary planning for the initial urban renewal project in the community. But then, these entities were fortunate in turn in having the conference to carry that part of the task which required the involvement of citizens on a broad scale.
As for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association of Baltimore, we cannot say that it was a failure altogether. Its goal of enlisting a special group of citizens to do what they were uniquely qualified to do with respect to the public service of the community was a good one and certain beneficial changes resulted. But Baltimore County was too big and a sense of community needs was shared by so few that the impact of the project proved to be far less than had been hoped. The other project for which some success can be claimed was that of the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council of Chicago (MHPC). Although, as in many other ESF-funded projects, a sufficient basis for sound judgment may be lacking, it would seem that the shortcomings in achievements were due to three principal factors external to the project's control. First, the premise that there would be community organizations in existence, or emerging as a result of WCMC effort, and which would be desirous of working on the kinds of problems within the area of MHPC expertise, seems not to have been well founded. Second, the expectation that WCMC and MHPC project staff would work closely together was not realized. (This factor may, of course, have been partly internal.) At least, the final report on neither project describes such cooperation. Third, the assumption that governmental agencies concerned with urban renewal and related concerns would welcome the chance to work with citizen groups does not seem to have been borne out in practice. Nevertheless, in certain cases the MHPC project staff seems to have been successful in working with citizen groups in ways which enabled the latter not only to solve problems but learn how to proceed on their own. Perhaps the MHPC staff might have contributed more if it had not been so diffident about meeting with citizen members of organizations for fear of antagonizing their officers and staff.
Concerning achievements of the remaining four projects, very little can be said. It is difficult to believe that the CPP staff of WCMC really knew how to assist citizens to form a new or to strengthen an existing community organization, especially in low-income neighborhoods. It is a question, too, whether their attention did not remain focused on organization for welfare planning-a WCMC concern and not primarily a citizen concern.
The UCF project in San Francisco achieved very little considering the two and one-half years of staff time expended on it. It is difficult to see how anything very tangible could result, however, when the goal was said to be to develop in a community's residents a sense of community and when action to solve problems was specifically rejected. And, in any case, lacking any principle of inclusion in or exclusion from the organization other than attendance at meetings, it is hard to see what significance an organization could have.
The BHL of Cincinnati can be dismissed as being virtually a total failure. There is no record of tangible achievements or even realistically conceived activities. The recognition accorded to failure to achieve goals set this year was to raise goals for next year.
In the course of the Foundation's efforts to test the effectiveness of different kinds of sponsors of citizen efforts to work together to achieve common ends, requests for assistance were received from several colleges and universities. These requests were received at a time when adult educators in colleges and universities were responding to the general ferment in their field which characterized the first decade after World War II. University adult educators across the country were conscious of a responsibility deriving in part from recognition of the fact that colleges and universities were created by society and thereby incurred a reciprocal obligation-an obligation which was not limited to undergraduate or graduate student training or to research but was interpreted by some institutions to include assisting through educational efforts, broadly conceived, the society at large, including its adult population. A subsidiary theme was the concern to use real activity in real communities as training opportunities for matriculated students. Hence, we find significant programs for working with citizens at a community level emerging at widely separated points in the United States, for example, at the University of Washington, University of Wyoming, Southern Illinois University, University of Nebraska, Earlham College, University of Virginia and Goddard College.
The projects envisioned (or as carried out) by colleges and universities applying to the Foundation varied significantly. Some were limited to providing educational or training opportunities to citizens and professionals interested in learning something about the community and how they might go about improving their own. The projects conducted under the aegis of the New School for Social Research, New York University and the University of Chicago's Center for Community Leader Training were of this type. These projects are discussed in Chapter 7. Only the application from Earlham College proposed that project staff would undertake to help citizens in some community to form an organization to deal with local community problems. The Goddard College application was based on the premise that although Vermont was shifting from an agricultural toward an industrial economy, thinking at the community level had not caught up with this change. The college proposed to work through the Vermont Labor and Farm Council to help citizens understand this shift and what needed to be done to relate to it. This approach was modified in favor of a much more open-ended, low-key approach which was prepared to respond to requests for staff assistance in exploring and possibly taking action on community problems.
The Earlham College project was carried out through its Community Dynamics Program (CDP) under the direction of William W. and Loureide J. Biddle. They had proposed a three-year project to promote citizen improvement and growth toward civic competence through a community organization and development approach in two contrasting areas: one in an urban area and the other in a disadvantaged rural area. It was hoped the project would start a process of self-development by helping the people involved learn to solve their own problems. The ideological commitment of the Biddies was to a view of fundamental education which involved helping people to develop themselves and to identify their own purposes "in contact with helpful but nondomineering friends."92 In this view, the central goal was not to solve problems but to help citizens develop a responsible competence to solve their own problems. It was necessary, however, that the outsiders be part of the process in association with the people.
Of all the grantees, the Biddles offered the most explicit assumptions about individuals and their potential for working together. To them, each person was judged to be unique, valuable and able to grow toward responsibility. In each person there were thought to be underdeveloped leadership abilities. These abilities could be nurtured whenever individuals came together in small groups to work toward the common good. One function of the outside helper was to encourage "acceptance of responsibility to do things which the citizen choosers believe to be pro-social."93 Through simple friendship, the community dynamics helper would encourage self-respect and self-confidence. He could be encourager, helper, expediter or conciliator, with faith in the redemptive possibilities in people. Democratic skills including the skills of group discussion were considered useful but best developed in the process of problem solving. Discussion ought to lead to action and should follow action.
In common with several other applicants, the Biddles pointed out that community improvement is not the equivalent of a project but is rather an unending process. They differed, however, from some grantee staff persons (for example, the United Community Fund of San Francisco project) in that they did not accept process as being a sufficient activity. Instead, the purpose of the process was to solve problems, and unless this goal could be attacked in a realistic fashion, the process would be sterile. There was yet another difference between this applicant and some others; for example, the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago staff expressed their concern that leaders in the poorer sections of the city were incapable of functioning unless most of the work were done by outside staff. The Biddles would have disagreed.
Community Dynamics in a Rural Area
One of the two areas chosen for the project was a depressed coal area of rural Kentucky which had experienced a rapid loss of population. Although the grantee did not describe the population, it is likely that they were primarily white, that their schooling had been limited and that the men were under-employed, whether as coal miners or farmers.
Institutions in the community were few, consisting of several small, separated church groups and the Pine Mountain Settlement School (a mission school). When the Biddies arrived, they found the director of the settlement school discouraged about the lack of results from thirteen years of work, the results of which seemed limited to increased expectations of local residents that they could count on a continuing flow of help from the school.
Undiscouraged by this bit of history, the project staff began a series of home visits to talk about problems, what might be done about them and whether or not they were willing to work with others. Contrary to the expectations of the school personnel, a long list of possibilities was produced. Using the school PTA as a nucleus, a citizens committee spent the winter talking about problems and alternatives for dealing with them. It was concluded that the most practicable point at which to begin was with a localized flood problem. The proposal to construct a flood wall required the recruitment of neighbors to haul stone and to raise money to buy the necessary cement and to assemble tools. A vacant building was procured from the school and made ready for use by a work camp group from Earlham College. It is important to understand that the project chosen was one which no one could oppose: Its solution would be of benefit to all; it required cooperative effort; and because it involved an objective, concrete task, it served, as it were, as a binder of hostility.
By 1958, the committee had become a community council. A study of county taxation and expenditures demonstrated that the community had not been getting its fair share of road funds. After a petition had been circulated in the community, favorable action resulted. Local politicians began to attend council meetings--evidence of its growing significance and influence. Plans were made for another summer work camp to complete work on playgrounds as well as to help several church groups make necessary repairs and improvements to their buildings. Cooperation in repairing and improving church buildings was a very unusual development in view of the marked separatism which had characterized church relationships in the community.
The project staff began to address a perennial problem: How could they withdraw without damage? To stay on would inhibit the growth of a sense of responsibility on the part of local people. The solution sought was to get the school to provide continuing support. "It seemed unlikely that mountaineer citizens would make further progress toward self-help unless some institution accepted systematic encouragement as a regular responsibility."94
In 1959, the school was strongly encouraged to agree to assume some responsibility for serving as a community dynamics expediter. Although this was not how its staff had functioned in the past, good progress was apparently made in this new direction. The final report states that several months after the project staff had left the area, there was no longer any mention of the college's Program of Community Dynamics or of the work camps.95 In the words of Lao-tze, the community appeared to have arrived at the point where they could say, "These things we did ourselves." "As people gain self-confidence to study, discuss and solve their problems, they seek credit for their own initiative and contribution, and often forget the outside help. The credit given to themselves is, in part, a function of their growing self-confidence."96 With the closing of its hospital and the imminent takeover of school functions by the public authorities, the school found an opportunity for a new kind of service in community development. The report quotes the director of the school, "I have increasing confidence in the soundness of these principles because of the amazing growth of community awareness which has taken place before our eyes."97
The council continued to meet and discuss more projects, some dealing with political matters. Telephone service into the community was secured. The county agricultural agent began to organize meetings. Several small businesses were started with results varying from modest to excellent. And many citizens, not thinking of themselves as leaders, gained skills and confidence as chairmen of subcommittees, as organizers of work units, as emissaries to other groups, etc. A Pine Mountain Settlement School staff member even organized a branch of the council.
It thus appears that the organizing effort was successful in persuading and helping a population previously characterized by civic apathy, segmented on the basis of isolated, separatist churches, to form an organization on a community basis which carried through specific, concrete projects; this organization then succeeded in developing enough substance to attract the attention of politicians who sought its support and began to have a visible impact on various groups in the county seat. Not least in importance was the change in the school itself, which came to see the error of its previous ways of working and, in the process, changed its own concept of its role in the community.
From the final report, we must conclude that the Earlham College Community Dynamics staff had succeeded in achieving its stated objectives in the process of working with a poor, rural community in the Kentucky mountains. To what extent, then, does the approach tried by the Earlham college staff provide an answer to the problem of promoting citizen interest in and the ability to take responsibility for action on a community basis? Certainly, something worked. On the assumption that staff attitudes and activities were consistent with the premises, the latter seem to have been relevant to the situation. One premise was that individuals would be working together in small groups seeking to serve the common good. Building a wall to avert flood damage would provide such an opportunity. Presumably the intended action would not benefit only some while doing harm to others. Hence, the premise fit the situation readily. In such a situation, the question of organizational membership need not arise.
A second premise was that with encouragement the better impulses of group members can be strengthened. Given the nature of the problem, we do not see competing interests which might have rendered this effort futile. In short, we can infer a community something like Kodak in which there were problems more or less common to all, on the solution of which the community could, with encouragement, more or less readily unite.
There is one aspect of the community on which further information would be of interest. Reference was made in Earlham College's reports to the existence of various separated church groups, with the implication that they were perhaps the primary form of organization in the community. We might wonder whether the community dynamics approach (grounded in a Christian view of the redemptive possibilities in man) interacted especially effectively with the active religious life of the community. Would such an approach in a similar though more secular community be less successful, or even fail? The community dynamics approach is clearly far removed from Saul Alinsky's, which presupposes the need for confrontation; much of the staff and leader training in his scheme was concerned with tactics to be used in dealing with the opposition. It is difficult to see how the community dynamics approach could work in a divided community.
Community Dynamics in an Urban Area
The second part of the Earlham College project was directed to a transitional neighborhood in Indianapolis, an industrial city. The neighborhood selected had been biracial for some time but with an increasing proportion of blacks. However, it was still a relatively stable, well-maintained area for middle-class families living in individual homes. The area covered was about fourteen city blocks long and ten blocks wide. There was very little communication between the races. The attitude of the institutions, including a university, was one of self-protection. They made no effort to change their own programs to deal with emerging evidence of deterioration. Although members of the faculty of the local university took part in the program in various ways, the university administration itself held aloof from the discussions. Public agencies became concerned, but their efforts did not take a form which helped residents learn how to help themselves.
The purpose of the project was to discover whether some alternative to continuing deterioration could be found and whether through methods based upon mutual good will, an integrated neighborhood could emerge with decent living conditions for both races. "Such religiously motivated objectives could be reached only if residents of a neighborhood choose to seek them, and thereby start a process of becoming kindlier, competent citizens."98 The project in this neighborhood began with a succession of conversations with individuals, with representatives of institutions and with various committees. Finally, in July 1957, a black professional person in the neighborhood inquired whether the Earlham staff thought anything could be done.
As a consequence, a first meeting was held which included five couples, three white and two black. All represented professional families. Later, all of these people except a white professor and a black woman dropped out of the citizen organization which was subsequently constituted. The first activity decided upon was to challenge an effort by local merchants to convert a neglected neighborhood park into a parking lot. When it was proposed to invite a reporter, who happened to be white, to the meeting, the black members opposed it on the ground that the result would be to "scoop" the black newspaper. Apparently this disagreement was prophetic. Nevertheless, petitions to the park department opposing conversion were successful.
In 1958, it was proposed that the group undertake to promote block organization. This move was resisted by the black members apparently because some years before, this device had been employed by a white protective association to keep blacks out. In the meantime, a number of study activities were organized which dealt with municipal ordinances, recreation and welfare activities and urban planning. Throughout this period, relations between the races deteriorated with the co-chairmen becoming in effect spokesmen for the two races. In June 1958, an open break resulted over whether any effort should be made to retain white residents in a neighborhood by discouraging block busting.
The blacks in the group felt that they could not run the risk of being accused of being "Uncle Toms." In the fall, the group reorganized, electing a white professor as the chairman. During the following year, the organization was gradually rebuilt with a number of new members. At this stage, they were discussing how to welcome newcomers and how to raise standards of behavior on the part of neighborhood residents as well as organizing committees to study research reports. Attendance at public meetings numbered fifty to eighty. More contacts were established with other community organizations and with governmental bodies. But one may wonder whether these developments were not more superficial than substantive.
Apparently the organization continued to operate in this mode after 1960.99 Chairmen of subdistricts kept track of moves into and out of the area, recruited members, reported on emergencies and zoning violations and tried to promote better relations. There appeared to have been activity involving meetings with other agencies, study of experience in other cities and broadening friendships. By 1961-1962, the neighborhood council had a paid membership of 300 and published a monthly newsletter. It was reported that there had been a reduction of interracial unpleasantness, and "panic" flight had stopped. There was favorable television and news coverage pointing to the success of integration efforts, and indeed some white families had moved into the neighborhood. In the words of the final report, the neighborhood council, "has become apparently a permanent study-action group on the local scene."100 Discussion of reports was said to be effective in changing opinions. Beyond this, some faculty members had taken on the role of community dynamics practitioner.
Nevertheless, the basic ambivalences were not eliminated. For blacks, these involved more decent homes versus integrated living and, for whites, "protection" of institutions versus integrated living."101 The continuing ambivalences suggest that even though the group had achieved a paid membership of 300, had a core of active leaders and could conduct studies, publicity and other activities, its existence may in fact have depended upon its not "rocking the boat."
One of the objectives of the Earlham project was to persuade other institutions to adopt the community dynamics approach. This occurred only in the case of the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Kentucky which did refocus its program in accordance with the premises and principles of the community dynamics program. In Indianapolis, Butler University remained aloof, apparently distressed by the controversy attaching to an interracial project. The organizing effort was denied, therefore, strong institutional participation such as the Hyde Park-Kenwood area enjoyed in Chicago. But irony of ironies, Earlham College itself decided that it could no longer support the Community Dynamics Program, and it was terminated. This was done even though a significant number of students were involved in the field.
In sum, it would appear that the community dynamics program approach had merit as a way of assisting citizens to improve their motivation and competence in civic affairs provided that, as a group, they shared in sufficient measure a common objective grounded in a recognition of and commitment to the common good. People sharing common goals could be helped to be more effective in significant ways than they would have been in the absence of help. But if basic differences in goals existed, only rather superficial gains could be made. The community dynamics experiment worked effectively in a rural Kentucky community; it was less effective in a racially mixed neighborhood in Indianapolis.
Goddard College was unique among our college applicants in its acknowledgment as an institution of its responsibility not only to the needs of degree students but to the needs (including civic roles) of adults also. The center of Earlham's commitment to the community was in its community dynamics staff; in the case of Goddard College the center was in the office of the president.
As noted above, its application to the foundation proposed to involve Vermont citizens in the exploration of problems of development arising out of the shift from agriculture to industry. It would begin by organizing a short-term school on a residential basis as a necessary device so that the participants would be free from other responsibilities. It was assumed that the organizations would pay the expenses of their own participants but that a grant would be needed to employ someone to direct the enterprise.
In discussing the proposed program, President Royce Pitkin stressed his hope that by holding community development schools annually on a residential basis, it would be possible to educate a considerable number of citizens about the problems facing the state: to develop leadership for activity within each community; to deal with the impact of new forces but do so on a broad basis rather than piecemeal or from the standpoint of a single interest; to shift the discussion of long-range problems of the state away from the shallow, public relations, industrial development approach followed by state agencies; and to recruit a group of persons from all over the state who would be knowledgeable about how to help communities learn to solve their own problems.102
The importance of local initiative in defining and solving problems was stressed, as was the fact that the approach must be educational in character and that each community would have to proceed at its own pace. It was thought that this approach was best for areas "resistant to change." The role of the community development staff person was to be a catalyst for the discovery of possibilities without attempting to provide or offer technically correct solutions.103 This function of being a catalyst for "the discovery of possibilities" was not greatly different from the role of a field worker as described by the Program of Community Dynamics. And it is clear that helping citizens learn to solve problems was a central idea in the proposal.
It was assumed that the results would be observable in the behavior of participants after leaving the school, in activities undertaken in local communities, in the kind of consideration given to problems of industrial development, in the kind of action taken by responsible officials and in the more intelligent and effective use of human and natural resources. To support the effort to achieve these goals, a grant of $28,200 was made to be used over a two-year period beginning in September 1959.
The implementation of the project, however, did not quite follow this plan because the staff person employed for the project saw the need and the remedy in somewhat different terms. In his view, the community development worker should see himself as a facilitator "of a process of democratic decision making and action for all types of local improvement."104 The descriptive term "facilitator" is worth noting because it was typically used as a descriptive term by the Program of Community Dynamics at Earlham College. And, in fact, the staff worker had spent four years working in the program in Indiana, Kentucky and Puerto Rico. He had also devoted a year to exploring the parallels between community development and client-centered therapy as developed by Carl Rogers The latter experience seems to have had a modifying impact on the worker's experience with the community dynamics program.
This background led him to a view of the problem, a set of premises, which he outlined in the final report. (1) The economic situation was considered to be closely related to the general state of community life. (2) Improvement of the general state of community life was seen to be inseparable from education. More specifically, "education is not removed from life, but an essential part of it; it is a way of approaching and dealing with problems wherever they are found, involving the creation of a climate for greater self-direction, problem solving and growth."l05 Education is a continuing process. (3) Each community has the potential to realize its own basic values through its own powers without external motivation or direction. (4) People are valued as such, not as objects to be manipulated toward preconceived ideas of others about desirable ends, nor yet toward their own announced goals as ends in themselves. (5) Any changes will be important to the people of the communities because they are self-chosen and self-performed. And (6) because it was experimental and educational, the community development program and its staff could serve the community free of partisan entanglements. It was unrestricted by legal, traditional or territorial bounds, and because it did not have large scale resources to protect, the program could concentrate on immediate, local, community-centered projects, while functioning as friend-in-court. Given such a view of the matter, his approach would not be quite as direct as the Biddles nor quite as low key as McNickle's.
The staff worker, Dr. Alan M. Walker, began his work in September 1958 by visiting the members of the Community Development Program Board (the CDPB was made up of representatives of the Vermont Labor and Farm Council and Goddard College) in their home communities to discuss their perceptions of problems and potential solutions. Discovering that there were major differences in perceptions among the members, he decided to ask his class in community development to conduct interviews in fifteen randomly selected towns. This was the major activity in the first year. The conclusion was that most people would welcome gradual but controlled industrialization as long as it did not destroy "the Vermont way of life." Following this, the first residential school workshop was scheduled, but its length was reduced from a week to a long weekend. There were twenty-two persons present, the majority being professionals, few of whom were actively involved in local community affairs. Although agencies in the council had development services which were freely available to local communities, they were underutilized. To close this gap became a goal. It was also decided that the annual school workshop could not get this done; hence, it was decided to emphasize direct consultation in communities.106 Following many personal contacts and appearances before local groups, Walker began working with small groups in several towns.107 (Still later, activity at the state level took the form of a workshop for community leaders directed by Curtis Mial of National Training Laboratories. By the third workshop, attendance had doubled and had attracted an important cross-section of state leadership.)
One of Walker's activities involved meeting monthly with the men's club in one community over a two-year period. The group undertook an informal survey of town assets and discovered that their town forest, which had been ignored and neglected, was worth the equivalent of six months taxes for the whole town. A commercial craft project was started, together with several community welfare projects including raising money for the first program of swimming instruction for young people. Walker was helpful in the move over a two-year period to merge two school districts in another community, a goal which had been vainly sought for twenty years. He helped to form a Town Development Committee which designed and administered a questionnaire directed to all residents regarding needed improvements. This became the basis for community discussion and further exploration.
From the beginning, Goddard students had been actively involved. It was decided by the staff and faculty that any activity must serve the purposes and promote the growth of students as well as contribute to community development as defined by the citizens themselves.108 To use the community as a source of information or an objective of study was not enough. Nor was providing service enough. "The partnership involved in such mutual affairs is considered an important source of increased regard and respect, and thus a positive contribution to development of a stronger sense of community."109
What more can be said about results? From various reports we can gather the following. (1) In the first two years of the project about a dozen Goddard College students worked in some phase of the project. They are said to have found it an "eye-opening experience." (2) The Third Annual Community Leadership Workshop was co-sponsored by several state agencies which was taken as indicative of a feeling of mutual confidence which had been built up through the project.110 (3) As time went on, the talk in local meetings would focus more and more on problems that a town could do something about and less and less on outside agencies or a "new industry" to solve problems.111 (4) A successful crafts project was initiated in one of the Vermont communities. (5) At the termination of the project, the men's club, with which the director had met for two years and which appeared to have achieved certain goals, was said to be quiescent. (6) Leaders of state organizations had tended to work only within the framework of their institution or organization. The community leadership workshops were said to have done a good deal to break down this isolation. (7) An officer of the Vermont Labor and Farm Council, who was also an executive of a rural electric cooperative, persuaded the cooperative to stimulate a community to explore the possibilities off development. The community group "has been in existence for some time," and at one time or another over a fourth of the adults in the community had attended its meetings.112 The stated program aims were to maintain the rural character of the town, to attract small businesses, to make the town more attractive and to promote community spirit. As a result of the work of the group, printed postcard maps of the town had been prepared, a local grocery was developing Christmas mail-order packages of local products, a fall foliage festival had been organized, a small craft store was started, the swimming beach was improved, a picnic and camping area was developed, beginning art classes were established for children, community forums were held, etc. The group functioned as an extension of the town meeting. (8) With the termination of the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation grant, the electric cooperative invited the Community Development Program of the college to extend its work to the thirty-eight towns in its service area and offered financial support for its continuation.113And (9) in many cases, the students made significant contributions and in some instances were materially influenced in their own careers. The students were said to have been helped to get a realistic picture of how things happen and of their own role and effectiveness in working with adults.114
The final report lists certain results which had been stated as goals, but the director did not claim that the project was necessarily responsible for them. These included increasing attention to economic development in the state, increasing interest in and cooperation on leadership development in the state and evidence of spreading acceptance of a problem-solving approach in public affairs. It appears that the "facilitative," nondirective approach may have appealed to citizens of an independent turn of mind who were likely to have resisted a more intrusive or directive program.115 One difficulty, of course, with so nondirective an approach was that getting a request from a local community for assistance was almost the equivalent of leaving the matter to chance. In those communities where the project did succeed, it was asserted that the low-pressure approach had more obvious effects on the overall social climate than it did on specific economic problems. But of course it was a premise of the program that changing the social climate was a necessary preliminary to preparing for economic development.116 At the beginning, the obstacles were feelings of apathy and suspicion; later on, the problem was that staff were spread so thin that "the problem became one of maintaining a sufficiently sustained interaction with the community or organization to implement the facilitative approach adequately."117
We must be careful not to judge the evidence of achievement by comparisons based on a scale appropriate to larger and more complex communities. The changes attributable to the project may seem minor to the resident of a metropolitan area, but they may represent significant improvement in the quality of life as understood by the participants in these local community activities.
There is another point which deserves special mention. We have spoken in other contexts of differences in approach as to the degree of inclusiveness of interests. Some tried to invite all interests to join in and were immobilized as a result, Chelsea being a case in point. In other instances only those sharing a more or less commonly held view were included, for example, the successful Highlander citizenship program. In different circumstances, the Earlham College approach succeeded in the rural Kentucky community where, we assume, the whole community was invited to take part. The same level of success cannot be claimed for its work in Indianapolis because of the split there. In Vermont, the project approach, directed to the whole community, did have an impact. Getting a merger of two school districts and their PTA organizations which had resisted merger efforts for over twenty years was no mean achievement. And we have noted several other tangible achievements. Because of the low-key approach, there may have been desirable changes in community outlook which were not manifest in concrete terms; hence, it is difficult to know whether or not the results were commensurate with the effort.
With the termination of funding in August 1961, the community development program could continue only on a reduced basis with the director devoting more of his time to the on-campus program, though a number of community projects were continued as were the leader training workshops. But, in any case, we must applaud the initiative, courage and commitment on the part of Goddard College to apply itself, because it was a social institution, to bringing to bear an educational approach to solving problems of the society in which it existed.
Compared with Woodlawn or Johns Island, the scale of these projects was small. The Kentucky and Vermont communities were small and rural. Staff resources were meager. Yet in both projects public problems were identified, addressed and, in some cases, solved by citizens. Even though they were of conservative bent, they could come to agree that certain actions should be taken--even on matters such as a school consolidation, which had divided communities for twenty years. The community dynamics, facilitative approaches were appropriate to these situations.
In Indianapolis, the community dynamics approach was able to get an organization started, but tension between whites and blacks limited the kinds of issues which could be addressed. It also limited the nature of the action which could be taken. That is to say, the characteristic activity became study of a problem and preparation of a report on it, followed by discussion of its implications, both within the group and in community meetings. What the group could not do was push for action except on limited, noncontroversial issues.
Despite the limitations, the accomplishments were not inconsiderable given the situations in which they were achieved. Certainly, the public interest was being served--at least as those involved in these communities were able to define it. And in the process, the information and understanding achieved, the skills learned and the feeling gained that what they did was worthwhile, contributions were made to the improvement of civic competence.
1. It should be understood, however, that there had been strong opposition to the project for several years before the first black moved in.
2. Everett S. Cope, Trumbull Park Branch, South Chicago Community Center, "A Preliminary Report," Oct. 26, 1956, p. 5, ESF files.
3. Everett S. Cope, notes of interview with Tjerandsen, June 21, 1955,
4. Everett S, Cope, Trumbull Park Branch, SCCC, first six-months report, May 1, 1956, pp. 3-5, ESF files.
5. Mary Jane Eaton and Everett S. Cope, "Dateline Chicago: The Trumbull Park Story," May 1961, p. 3, ESF files.
6. Cope, May 1, 1956, p. 4, ESF files.
7. Ibid., p. 7.
8. Cope, "A Preliminary Report," p. 5.
9. Ibid., p. 6.
10. Cope, notes of interview with Tjerandsen, Jan. 8, 1957, ESF files.
11. letter from Cope to Vernon Eagle (New World Foundation), May 22, 1957, ESF files.
12. Progress Report of April 1, 1959, p. 2, ESF files.
13. Eaton and Cope, p. 10.
14. Ibid., p. 11.
15. Everett Cope to Adolph Hirsch, letter of June 26, 1961, ESF files.
16. Eaton and Cope, p. 12.
17. Edward H. Palmer, executive director, Trumbull Park Community Center, letter of June 29, 1964, transmitting a report entitled "Evaluation," prepared by Charles P. Wright, planning director, Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago; and "Service Report for 1963," prepared by the center, ESF files.
18. Paul B. Johnson, "Citizens Participation in Urban Renewal: The History of the Near West Side Planning Board and a Citizen Participation Project," 419 pp., mimeo, Hull House Association, 1960, ESF files.
19. Muriel and Otto Snowden, "Quarterly Summary and Critical Evaluation: Community Organization Work Program Activities," July 5, 1962, p. 5, ESF files.
20. This treatment of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is as extensive as it is, not because the ESF contributed so significantly to the total development of the conference, but because its decisions about such matters as membership, principles of interaction with its community and role of staff provide useful comparisons with other projects to which the Foundation contributed support. In addition to grants from the ESF, funds were contributed also by the Chicago Community Trust, Division Fund, Field Foundation, J and S Foundation, Wieboldt Foundation and others. And, of course, member dues and fund-raising activities contributed significantly to support of the program.
21. Peter H. Rossi and Robert A. Dentler, The Politics of Urban Renewal: : The Chicago Findings (New York: The Free Press, 1961), p. 26.
22. Sol Tax, "Residential Integration: The Case of Hyde Park in Chicago," Human Organization, 18(1) (Spring 1959), 22-27.
23. Julia Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959), pp. 7-8. This book was produced in fulfillment of a commitment to the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation as a condition of its grants to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. I have relied heavily on Abrahamson's account of this project.
24. Abrahamson, ibid.; Rossi and Dentler, The Politics of Urban Renewal.
25. Abrahamson, p. 13.
26. Thelen's interest led to his becoming co-chairman (with Russell Babcock) of the first working committee on block organization. Not only did block organization become a powerful force in the conference program, but an effective body of principles and operating procedures was also produced for the benefit of community groups elsewhere.
27. Abrahamson, p. 26.
28. Ibid., pp. 29-30.
29. Julia Abrahamson, letter to Leo Gerngross, March 22, 1954, ESF files.
30. Julia Abrahamson, letter to Alex Morin, Feb. 18, 1957, ESF files.
31. Oscar Brown, quoted in Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself,
32. Rossi and Dentler, p. 68.
33. Abrahamson, letter to Leo Gerngross, March 22, 1954, ESF files.
34. Harry P. Bovshow, executive director, letter to Tjerandsen, April 11, 1960, ESF files.
35. Herbert A. Thelen and Bettie Belk Sarchet, "Neighbors in Action: A Manual for Community Leaders," Human Dynamics Laboratory, Dept. of Education, University of Chicago, 1954, p. 7. The content of "Neighbors in Action" was developed by Thelen and Sarchet in relation to the conference effort. For a more complete treatment of the rationale for block organization, the reader is referred to Thelen's article in ETC, 11(1) (Autumn 1953), 3-15.
36. Thelen and Sarchet, p. 14.
37. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself, pp. 83-84.
38. Ibid., p. 80.
39. Ibid., p. 106.
40. Julia Abrahamson, report of the executive director, Dec. 20, 1955, p. 7, ESF files.
41. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds itself, p. 139,
42. James Cunningham, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 12, 1956, ESF files.
43. James Cunningham and Maynard Krueger, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, March 26, 1957, ESF files.
44. Bovshow, letter to Tjerandsen, April 11, 1960, ESF files.
45. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself, p. 60.
46. Ibid., p. 65.
47. Ibid., p. 162.
48. Ibid,, p. 162.
49. Ibid., pp. 164-165.
50. Tax, p. 25.
51. Muriel Beadle, The Hyde Park-Kenwood Urban Renewal Years: A History to Date, 1967, p. 14.
52. Rossi and Dentler, p. 146.
53. Ibid., pp. 99-100.
54. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself, p. 200.
55. Rossi and Dentler, p. 88.
56. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself, p. 194.
57. Ibid., p. 246.
59. James Cunningham, Annual Report, Dec. 4, 1957, ESF files.
60. Beadle, p. 19.
61. Irving Horwitz, letter to Tjerandsen, April 28, 1961, ESF files.
62. Rossi and Dentler, p. 106.
63. Ibid., p. 143.
67. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds itself, pp. 108-109.
68. Ibid., pp. 129-30.
69. Sol Tax, review of A Neighborhood Finds Itself by Julia Abrahamson, in Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science (Phila.), 327 (Jan. 1960), 146-47.
70. Bovshow, letter to Tjerandsen, April 11, 1960, ESF files.
71. Rossi and Dentler, p. 281.
72. Ibid., pp. 280-82.
73. Ibid., p. 284.
74. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself, p. 264.
75. Ibid., p. 321.
76. Ibid., p. 135.
77. Johnson, p. 251.
78. Rossi and Dentler, pp. 81-83.
79. Abrahamson, A Neighborhood Finds Itself, p. 130.
80. Ibid., p. 134.
82. Rossi and Dentler, p. 280.
83. Ibid., pp. 153-55.
84. Ursula Batchelder Stone, "We Are Here to Stay!" University of Chicago Magazine, March-April 1973, p, 20.
85. Progress Report, Neighborhood Councils, May 1, 1958-May 1, 1959, UCF, p. 25, ESF files.
86. Bertis Jones, "The San Francisco Neighborhood Council Program," an
address delivered to the Family and Children's Council, Sept. 25, 1958, p.
9, ESF files.
87. Ibid., p. 2.
88. Bertis Jones, interview with Tjerandsen, Nov. 1958, ESF files.
89. "Report on the Citizen Participation Project," Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Inc., Oct 24, 1961, p. 5, ESF files.
90. The ESF contributed $49,200 to this project for a three-year period and the Wieboldt Foundation of Chicago a like amount. Each subsequently contributed $2,500 for a final report. The Sears Foundation subsequently contributed $11,600.
91. It is of interest that references to the "other" project in the WCMC and MHPC final reports are almost totally absent.
92. William W. Biddle, "Program of Community Dynamics-a Pattern of Fundamental Education," p. 3, Earlham College.
93. Loureide J. Biddle and William W. Biddle, "Community Dynamic Processes," Board of National Missions, United Presbyterian Church, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10027, p. 34. This was the final report of the grantee.
94. Ibid. p. 24.
95. Ibid., p. 27.
97. Ibid., p. 31.
98. Ibid., p. 37
99. Ibid., p. 48.
100. Ibid., p. 51.
101. Ibid., p. 52.
102. Royce S. Pitkin, president, Goddard College, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 1, 1957, ESF files.
103. Proposal to the ESF from Goddard College, Oct. 11, 1957, ESF files.
104. Alan M. Walker, report on the Community Development Program regarding a statewide program of community development, June 1960, ESF files.
105. Alan M. Walker, Vermont Community Development Program, Final Report to the ESF, Oct. 1, 1962, p. 9, ESF files.
106. Alan M. Walker, "Vermont Community Development Program," Goddard Bulletin, 29(5) (Nov. 1964), 15.
107. Alan M. Walker, "Six-Months Report on Program of Community Development in Vermont," April 1, 1959, ESF files.
108. The question of whether such a combination of goals was feasible was not explored in the report. It seems possible that a project not worthwhile from the standpoint of the interests of college students as students might nevertheless have been useful to a community as well as developing the civic competence of its citizens.
109. Walker, Final Report, Oct. 1, 1962, p. 34.
110. Ibid., p. 1.
111. Ibid. pp. 4-5.
112. Ibid., p. 27.
113. Ibid., p. 29.
114. Ibid., pp. 34-38.
115. Ibid., p. 42.
116. Ibid., p. 43.
117. Ibid., p. 44.