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Workshop # 1:
MidRiver Neighborhood Discovered

A new Toledo neighborhood came to light yesterday when former Mayor Marty Cartfinder, still trying to build apartments for deaf people by the airport, was lobbying residents as they fished for walleye in the Maumee River. Acting on a tip from an angler eager to divert him, Cartfinder waded under the High Level Bridge. There he discovered a secret entrance to a tunnel which emerged into a neighborhood unknown until today.

University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center researchers are studying the area. Their report is expected as soon as they can get a grant.

Mayor John Jeep said, "Hhmmmm"

Report of the Urban Affairs Center On the MidRiver Neighborhood

January 2004

This island neighborhood has apparently escaped detection by claiming to outsiders that it is part of East Toledo, while claiming to East Toledoans to be part of the rest of the city. Having thus successfully fooled all parties, their anonymity was preserved for many years. We found MidRiver to be a typical center city area, and recommend the formation of a neighborhood organization to ensure that residents' voices are heard and that city services and renewal of the deteriorating housing stock are dealt with.

Population: MidRiver has about 10,000 people. They are about evenly divided between men and women, with a higher than normal percentage of elderly and children. Twenty percent of the people are African-American, 5% Hispanic - mostly Mexican-American - and there is a substantial Slovak (Eastern European) minority within the white majority. Median family income is $15,340.

Physical Characteristics: There are 3500 housing units in MidRiver. Most are single family homes. These are woodframe, and 48% are owner occupied. The northern half of the island is characterized by gently curving streets and well kept lots and homes. In this area home ownership is more frequent (72%). Residents refer to the two sections 'up there' or 'down there', depending on their point of view. "Up There', 1% of the homes are vacant, and 6% deteriorated to some extent. "Down There', 17% are vacant and 23% deteriorated.

Commerce and industry: Besides subsistence fishing in the Maumee River (which accounts for the frequent stomach disorders found in area families), residents are employed by 'The Mill', a trash can cleaning and resale plant operated by Chokem and Killem, Inc. Workers there are represented by Local 13 of the Amalgamated Yuck Workers Union (AYW). Along Center Street, which divides "up There' from 'Down There', there are a few stores and offices, and commercial deterioration is definitely on the rise. This is where the main office of the Nohelp Bank and Trust Company are to be found, along with the branch office of ABLE, the private attorney Barney Bloodsucker, Esq. And 'Buz' Sawyer, the Family Doctor, Dentist and Tree Surgeon for most of the area's residents who can pay the bill.

Social and Voluntary Organizations: 'Up There' residents generally attend the First Episcopal Church. Some also go to the Last Baptist Church, located on Center Street. St. Somebody's Catholic Church is also on Center Street, and the Holiness Holy Ghost Church is in 'Down There'. There is a Ministerial Alliance which meets at Joe's Bar and Theological Watering Hole, by the river, every other Friday night.

In this workshop you will be divided into groups to draw maps of the neighborhood.


Workshop #2:  Base Building

One of the most important things any community organization does is develop membership.  Members are often fleeting, losing time to changing family obligations, work obligations, or simply moving on with their lives.  Consequently, an active organization is constantly in search of new members.

Some community organizing models, such as ACORN's, put membership development before all else--you don't try to take on big issue campaigns until you have a strong organization.  A "membership drive" in such a model is not just to recruit members, but to build participation.  It starts with doorknocking to find out what issues people care about and peeking their interest, getting a personal and money commitment if possible.  Then there is the second visit, where you try to solidify their commitment.  Then there are a series of "organizing committee" meetings which become planning meetings.  All this leads to a big neighborhood meeting of 100 or more people where a serious campaign develops.

In this exercise we have been invited in to Midriver by three of the neighborhood's clergy--Bernie Brewski of Joe's Bar and Theological Watering Hole (downthere), Rev. Elizabeth Ross of the Episcopal Church (technically downthere since it is on the south side of Center Street but serving an upthere membership) and Rev. Ronald Righteous of Holiness Holy Ghost (downthere).  They have formed the MidRiver Neighborhood Organization Sponsoring Committee. They know of our reputation as top-notch community organizers and want us to build a new organization in MidRiver.  Your job is to begin recruiting members and get money from them to start funding the organization--$50 per person per year.

Some of you will be assigned as organizers, others as residents, drawing names and roles from a hat.  The three clergy have decided you should start doorknocking downthere, as that's where they think the most problems are.  You can start with the following doorknocking rap:
Call in results to:  Rev. Righteous, 123-4567 by Wednesday at 7 pm. 

"Hi, my name is __________________, and I'm from the MidRiver Neighborhood Organization Sponsoring Committee.  It's a new organization trying to get people involved in improving the neighborhood.  I'd like to find out what your concerns are in this neighborhood. (LISTEN--if nothing, suggest things you heard about from others) 

You know, some of your neighbors were telling me about the exact same thing.  It sounds like ___________ is/are pretty important to people.  What have you tried to do to deal with ________________?  (LISTEN) Did it work? (LISTEN) What do you think would work better_________________? (LISTEN--if they don't say something about "people getting together," suggest it). 

Well, here's what I need you to do.  We are getting people together for a meeting at Joe's Bar and Theological Watering Hole to start deciding what to do about these issues.  It's at 7pm next Tuesday and I really need you to be there.  Do you think you can come? (LISTEN--if no, work on convincing them of the importance).  And if we are going to have a strong organization that is controlled by the people who live here, we also need people to pay dues.  It's $50 per year.  Can you write a check out before I leave? (ask 3 times before you accept "no" for an answer--if still "no" schedule a second visit).  And I'll need your phone number so I can call you to remind you about the meeting next Tuesday.  Will you need a ride? 

      Names & Numbers 




Workshop #3 Leadership Development

You will be organized into small groups. Each group should use the Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives list developed in Workshop 3 as a basis for this discussion. In these small groups, discuss and list the people you would recruit from the list provided to serve on the Board of the MidRiver Neighborhood Organization.

You are limited to 15 seats on the Board, and more than 50% must be "low or moderate income neighborhood residents" in order to meet the guidelines of the Wantmor Fund.

You will have 15 minutes to discuss this and make your Board list. Please record the names and titles or brief descriptions of the people on your Board on the newsprint provided.

The report sessions will focus on the Who and Why of your list.


Marty Cartfinder, former mayor, amateur TV journalist, and 'rediscoverer' of MidRiver - lives out of the area

John Jeep - mayor - lives outside

Council members - all live outside

- Tina Louise Skelton - named after Gilligan's Island star and local baseball park, distant relative of deceased comedian, heads neighborhood development committee

- Walt Supercalifrajalisticexpialidocious - up and coming young leader, has trouble getting inside information because no one can spell his name correctly on memos

- Rob Claustrophobia - likes to play bare-fisted politics, always worried someone is trying to invade his space.

- Geordi Zarathustra - intellectual token Republican on council, likes Star Trek reruns, resentful for always being last in alphabetical order.

- Russ Walesa - cousin of Polish labor leader, neighborhood activist in another area

- Mike Fernbar - independent, activist, wears a diamond erring on occasion, but still gets elected

- Rosie Riveter - known as a tough no-nonsense politician with a mean streak

Chevy Chokem - youngest son of Grabem N. Chokem, founder of Chokam & Killem, the biggest employer in the area - he has been on lots of charity boards in the past - lives UpThere

Mike "the Fist" Badboy - leader of the Amalgamated Yuck Workers local in MidRiver - very neighborhood oriented, lives UpThere.

Nate Nohelp - middle son of the founder of the Nohelp Bank - lives UpThere.

Wanda Willing - overworked, underpaid, crusading ABLE attorney who heads the neighborhood office - lives across the river.

Barney Bloodsucker, Esq. - attorney, lives UpThere.

Buz Sawyer, MD, DD, TD. Lives UpThere.

Rev. Elizabeth Ross - Rector of the Episcopal Church - lives in the Rectory, which is technically located DownThere since it's on the South Side of Center Street.

Rev. Louie Lightning - pastor of Last Baptist. Lives DownThere.

Father Francis X. O'Damion - longtime pastor of St. Somebody's. Center St.

Rev. Ronald Righteous and his brother Richard - co-pastors of Holiness Holy Ghost, DownThere.

Bernie Brewski - only surviving offspring of 'Holy Joe' Brewski, founder and best brawler at Joe's Bar and Theological Watering Hole, home of the weekly Ministerial Alliance poker games. Lives DownThere, over the bar.

Melinda Mercury - parishioner of Holiness Church, knows everybody and their business, lives DownThere.

Martha Arthur - goes to Last Baptist, chairs Social Concerns, lives DownThere.

Steve King - retired Chokem & Killem worker. AYW leader, now does a little writing on the side, lots of time on his hands. DownThere.

Suzanne Sweet - goes to First Episcopal, is on lots of boards (YWCA, Girls Rescue Mission, United Helpers, Garden Club), lives UpThere.

Aretha Benjamin - works at Nohelp Bank as a teller, goes to St. Somebody's, lives DownThere.

Dr. Ludwig Von Ludwig - well known historian of the neighborhood, lives UpThere.

Julia Stirski - active in the Daughters of Slovenia, lives UpThere, works as a legal assistant at the ABLE office.

Mary Clare Ritz - cracker heiress, built the whole church for St. Somebody's after a tragic fire destroyed the building in 1958. Lives with her 71 cats in the family estate on Collingstone Boulevard, in the UpThere area.

Terry Glazing - handyman, window specialist, regular attendance record holder at Last Baptist, Lives DownThere.

Robin Richardson - young activist in the Son And Daughters of Liberty, a newly found antidrug group made up largely of newly graduated seniors from St. Somebody's Senior High who are looking for a way to improve the community. Lives DownThere.

Workshop # 4: Identity Development

In this workshop you will develop a mission statement and a list of goals and objectives for your organization.

The Mission Statement of an organization should serve as a guide for leaders and staff in deciding what the group should do. It may also serve to help people decide what NOT to do.

A mission Statement should include four sections WHO are you, WHERE do you work, what is your VISION and what METHODS will you use. Here's an example:

North Toledo Community Sponsoring Committee Mission Statement

The VISION of the NTCSC is the revitalization of the area into a clean, safe, economically and socially thriving neighborhood where the residents, businesses, churches and other institutions have access to the resources the need.

The BOUNDARIES of the area will be Cherry, Manhattan/I75 and the Maumee, often referred to as the 'Golden Triangle'.

The METHOD: this community feels the need to unite and organize within the area in order to promote the general welfare of all its residents, employers, employees, church members and institutional partners, regardless of age, race, sex, class, creed, disability or national origin assuring an equal opportunity for all to pursue a more satisfactory way of life through democratic principles.

Who are you: are you an organization, a coalition, an agency, a task force, a committee, a group? What ties you together? Be as clear about what you are NOT in this decision as you can be. All these definitions can overlap, but here are some distinctions:

-organization - an ongoing group, generally made up of individual members who have declared their allegiance to the group. May be an 'organization of organizations', in which case this should be stated clearly in the mission statement.

-coalition - a group of people who come together for a specific purpose, often for a short period of time, often with individuals representing groups who share a common concern.

-agency - a corporation with a budget and a staff which exists to operate programs.

-task force - a group created by a parent organization or a number of sponsoring organizations with a specific assignment and a time frame for completing it.

-a committee - an ongoing subgroup of an organization or board which has a continuing role in handling an area of the group's business.

-a group - a collection of people who work together as volunteers for a common purpose. No long term plan is implied.

Where do you work: are you a block group? A neighborhood organization? A citywide, regional, statewide or national organization? Writing your mission statement gives you a chance to make sure everyone agrees on the geographic scope of the area - don't settle for 'we all know what the Bugbita Heights neighborhood is'.

What is your vision? How will you know you have won the war? Who do you intent to benefit from your work? How do you describe to strangers the positive side of what you are up to? Don't just accept the IRS tax exempt language that you had to put in your incorporation papers - talk about what you're together for in a way that helps you 'keep your eyes on the prize' through the hard times. Be specific without being boring - say 'we are working to build a neighborhood where children can play, free form fear, on our streets and playgrounds' instead of 'we seek to reduce crime statistics in the category of misdemeanor attacks on non-adults by 60-75%'.

What will be your method? Of all the activities you could undertake, all the strategies you could employ, which do you plan to use? This is a chance to focus your group on who you are NOT as well as what you ARE. Clarity early in this area can help you avoid the 'terrible opportunity' syndrome - when groups take on projects they can't handle 'just because they're there'. A perfectly good tutorial program sinks under the weight of a drug treatment contract that the County passed their way, but which required them to hire lots of new staff and get new office space and take on a whole new set of issues. A perfectly effective housing development organization ends up in trouble because their anticrime program grant required them to involve hundreds of volunteers, which they were not prepared to do. A community recreation center that has traditionally been staffed mostly by volunteers gets big bucks to hire staff for a one-year project, then finds all the volunteers have disappeared. Worst of all, without a clear statement of what activities you will undertake and how, you could fail to communicate to the community just what you are, and thus never get their support - it's hard to get behind a constantly moving target!

Once your group has developed a mission statement, USE IT! Write it in big red letters and post it in the office. Put it on your stationary. Read it at the start of every public meeting. Use it to introduce new members through a brochure. The better it is, the more it will help you develop organizational clarity .,and avoid the middle that sinks many groups.

Finally, make sure your mission statement is a living document, one that reflects a common understanding of reality. Do this by revisiting the statement every year or two in a board meeting, retreat or general planning session, to review what it says, rewrite it if necessary or readopt it if it still fits. Don't make big changes too often. Recommit yourself to what it says and recruit new people into ownership over the mission statement by allowing them to feel they've been consulted as well.

Use the mission statement to develop a set of one-year goals--improve housing, attract new businesses, get better city services, etc.  Then specify those goals into objectives, saying what you will specifically accomplish (things that you can count will help you be more specific) and how you are going to do to accomplish those things.



Workshop #5--Group Structure and Process

The organizers have been out doorknocking, you've developed an organizational identity, and the community is ready for its first meeting.  The first meeting is extremely important.  If it's good, people may just come to the next one.  If it flops, no one may come back.

There are many important choices to make in planning a meeting:

What roles will there be?

How will the room be arranged?

What will be on the agenda?

How will decisions be made?

There may be other issues you will want to include in planning the meeting. Remember that some of these decisions have to take into account community culture and preferences.  While a radical commune may be comfortable sitting on the floor without anyone leading the meeting and arguing until they reach consensus, a traditional ethnic community may need (at least initially) a traditional meeting.

So for this workshop you will spend one day planning the first community meeting and one day holding the meeting.  You will pick roles from a hat, from the following cast of characters: