back to syllabus

Workshop #6: Research and Education

Some of the residents Downthere have contacted the MidRiver Neighborhood Organization with concerns about their kid's health.  There are rumors going around the neighborhood that lots of kids are getting sick with strange sore throats and rashes.  A couple of the parents have taken their kids to the doctor, who said it is probably just allergies.  But these residents are worried that the pollution from Choken and Killem is causing the problems (the residents say that two of the kids that got rashes were playing by the river).

The residents contacted the City Health Department, who came to one resident's house and found that it was not very clean.  They told the resident that their kid's health problems were probably due to the lack of hygiene in the house.  This made the resident very angry.

In this workshop you will be resident organizers and your task will be to outline a community-based action research and education strategy.  The questions you will need to answer are:

1.  What is the research question?

2.  How will you research the question--consider both research methods and who will do it.

3.  What will you do with the data?

4.  What will be possible campaign strategies, depending on different outcomes of the research?

Remember that an effective research and education campaign will be exciting, and will  help the community get better organized.


Workshop #7: Issue Selection

In this workshop you are an issue selection task force of the MidRiver Neighborhood Organization.  You discovered that the action research project on river pollution was going to be a long-term campaign, and now you are discussing possible new issues that the group could take on in the interim.  Your job is to recommend which we should do first, and why.  Here are the issues referred to this committee at the last meeting:

1. At the corner of Chestnut and Roan, in Down There, there have been 11 fender bender type accidents in the last year.  Nobody’s been seriously hurt, but lots of kids pass by on their way to school every day.  Folks want a 4-way stop sign.

2. Mr. & Mrs. Jones are both school teachers, so they have a steady (but small) income.  They’ve never owned their own home, but they’ve got their heart set on one just over the border in Up There.  The banker told them “that’s a questionable area, you know.  Why don’t you look a couple of blocks farther north and come back to us?’  They’re mad.

3. The KwikSip Korner Kupboard is a Center Street, right by where the kids wait for their bus transfers after school.  They’ve had two big windows broken this Spring, and they’re worried about more vandalism.

4. On Victoria Land, one of the nicer, historic areas of UpThere, Mrs. Petunia lives, and has lived all her 97 years.  The cats seem to have the run of the place – all 97 of them.  Neighbors are partly concerned for her safety, and partly sick and tired of the smell.

5. Surrounded as it is by the Maumee River, the MidRiver Neighborhood is acutely aware of the pollution of the river.  Lots of folks, especially those who fish, are REALLY MAD about the Spring runoff and the floating museum of horrors that the river becomes.

Discuss what might make each problem into an issue, how to cut it and then rate each issue by priority.  Report to the larger group after 45 minutes.  Discussion will center on what makes a good issue.

Workshop #8: Tactics--Doing an Action

The MidRiver Neighborhood Organization has for some time tried to get Chokem and Killem to clean up its act, and to get the city to pressure the company to stop polluting the river.  Of course, since MidRiver has not had a strong organization before, all their demands have been ignored.  MNO has tried to schedule a meeting with the founder of Chokem and Killem, Grabem N. Chokem, and with the mayor (whom is known to be a good friend of Grabem N. Chokem).   Chokem  has never returned any phone calls and the mayor scheduled two meetings with MNO but was a no-show both times.  So some MNO members have decided to organize an action on the mayor to demand a meeting.  The MNO President got another meeting scheduled with the mayor, but you know how that goes.

You will draw roles for this exercise.  People with MNO roles will plan and carry out the action.  people with government roles will also make plans for the meeting.  The reporter will do what reporters do--nose around and ask a lot of questions.  If there re more people than roles, extra rolks will be additional MNO members.  You will have 15 minutes to prepare.

MNO Roles:

Government Roles

Workshop #9: Negotiating

Your tactic in the previous workshop worked.  The mayor and Chokem and Killem's Vice President for Public Affairs have agreed to meet with the President of the Midriver Neighborhood Organization--the mayor said this shouldn't be a meeting with the whole community.  The only demand made by MNO at this piont has been to get the meeting.  The meeting will be upstairs at Joe's Bar.

In this workshop you will be divided into two groups, meeting in separate rooms for 15 minutes prior to the negotiation meeting:

City/Chokem and Killem coalition:

Mayor--who wants to make sure no jobs are lost, at any cost, and hates the idea of residents being involved in making decisions about the city.
Mayor's aide--who wants to make sure the mayor doesn't say anything stupid.
Chokem and Killem VP--who wants to make sure the company's profit margin is protected, and is an expert at double-talk.

task:  to predict what demands MNO might come in with and figure out responses to it.  Use the "what if" process.

MidRiver residents:
President of MNO
Two community organizers
Other residents (choose your own identities)

task:  to "choreograph" the negotiation.  Decide who will attend, what their roles will be, and what your demands are.  Use the "what if" process to determine your strategy.

Workshop #10: Conflicts in Development

Workshop: Issues in Community Development

An important issue has arisen in Mid-River. The Nohelp Bank has foreclosed on four buildings located on Center Street in Mid-River. Word has spread that the bank is planning to demolish the buildings to build a pay parking lot. Each building has one business in it but has space for one more, and there are four apartments on the second floor of each building, about half vacant. The new parking lot will be used by workers at Chokem and Killem They will no longer be able to park for free at the trash can recycling plant because Chokem and Killem needs more space to store used garbage cans. Workers will have to start to work about a half hour earlier to drive to the parking lot and then get bussed to the plant. Chokem and Killem says this will create about 10 extra jobs 20 jobs will be lost when the buildings are demolished. Currently, the buildings are home to a deli, a video arcade, a youth crisis center, and a bar.

There is a community meeting coming up. You will be divided into the four groups below, and your task will be to prepare for the meeting, including contacting any of the other groups below to devise strategy. Think about who you might be able to build alliances with, and who might have to fight against.  Then we will hold the meeting.

The Four Groups are:

Mid-River Youth, Education, and Services:  You are a social service agency, specializing in youth services. You run a tutoring program, an 11pm basketball program,  (because your board thinks midnight is too late for kids to be out) and refer kids to other agencies for serious concerns like drug overdoses and pregnancy.  Your building is one of those that will be demolished and you are very afraid you will not be able to find other offices at the price of the ramshackle building you currently occupy.  Besides, Center Street is where the kids hang out and there are no other vacancies on the street large enough for your staff of six and 20 phone volunteers right now.  The Bank is your biggest funder.

Mid-River Corporation to Appreciate Neighborhoods for Tomorrow: You are a new community development corporation whose board is composed of small business owners and residents of both Upthere and Downthere. You think the Center Street buildings can be saved and would like the Nohelp Bank to give you a special redevelopment loan at very low interest to fix up the buildings. You think the existing commercial tenants-at least the arcade, the crisis center, and the bar--however, are scaring away other businesses. So you want to bring new more "family-oriented" businesses into the rehabbed buildings in hopes they will attract more businesses. You believe you have to maintain a cooperative relationship with Nohelp Bank in order to have a chance at accomplishing this.

Mid-River Homeowners Association:  You are a coalition group of homeowners from Upthere and Downthere who are continually concerned about the quality of life in MidRiver.  You want to get rid of the rental housing, which you believe attracts "undesirables" to the neighborhood.  You also don't want buses roaring down your streets transporting third shift Chokem and Killem workers and the parking lot that Chokem and Killem will use to store all those trash cans borders on a street of mostly homeowners.

Workshop #11: Community Planning

You are residents of  “Nohelp Lane,”  named after the famous Nohelp banking family, just south of Center Street in Downthere.  The new MidRiver CDC has decided to move into community-based residential development, and has chosen your street for its first demonstration project because it is a small area where development can have a big impact.  Attached is a map of your street.  The CDC has asked you to come together to develop a plan for your street- - they have been assured that if they come up with a good plan,  the city will fund a substantial portion of it ( to make up for years of neglect).  You are the people of Nohelp Lane:

A. You are the absentee owner of the Corner Tap bar and its building at 2001 Center St.  You know that you are not liked by some people in the neighborhood because of the flights that sometimes occur outside of your bar, the occasional act of vandalism in the neighborhood that is blamed on your patrons ( no one has ever been caught), and the late night noise.  You also know that a number of neighborhood residents spend a fair amount of time at your bar.  There are four efficiency apartments above the bar in your building  (three occupied by single people who are earning just above minimum wage, the other recently vacant).  While they are occasionally late with a rent payment, all three are relatively long-term (2 years or more) tenants.  You know that few people would want to live above a bar, and you really need their rent payments to pay off your building.  It would also really help attract more patrons if you could have some off-street parking.

B. You are the longest-term tenant above the Corner Tap.  You don’t really like living above a bar (your clothes smell like alcohol and smoke because the whole building is served by a single old gravity-fed hot air furnace).  But you have friends in this part of Downthere and don’t have a car, and can’t afford anything more expensive (it’s only $150 a month), so don’t want to move.

C. You are the tenant in the upper duplex unit at 1001 Nohelp Lane.  You know the place is falling down- - the pipes freeze in the winter, the air whistles through the cracked windows, if you put on your toaster and TV at the same time you blow a fuse, the roof leaks, and you’re pretty sure there are rats living in the basement.  But the rent is only $200 a month, and the only other place you think you would be able to go is above the Corner Tap and an efficiency wouldn’t be enough room for all of your artwork and supplies, which is how you make a living.  You make some extra money by doing sketches of patrons at the Corner Tap for $5 each.

D. You are the owner living in the lower duplex unit at 1001 Nohelp Lane.  Ever since you were disabled by your back injury at the construction site you are unable to do any heavy labor and have been living solely on a small disability pension and the rent of the upstairs tenant.  You wish you had money to fix up your building, but it just isn’t there.  You are so thankful for the Corner Tap, because there are no other social spots in the neighborhood.

E. You are the owner of 1005 Nohelp Lane.  You and your spouse work nights down at Chokem and Killem.  It’s OK pay, but exhausting and stressful work.  You have always been upset by the noise on Center Street during the day, which keeps you awake.  You’d love to move to a house in the suburbs, but just can’t afford it.  You even put your house up for sale once, but couldn’t get an offer of more than $45,000, especially since the house needs a paint job, storm windows, and a new furnace.

F. You rent the house at 1007 Nohelp Lane.  As a single parent of two elementary school age children, you are very concerned that the condition of your small 2 bedroom house is a danger to them.  There are exposed wires leading to a couple of the outlets, the basement steps lean at a disturbing angle, sometimes the water heater doesn't work, and the windows sometimes slam down by themselves.  You are also concerned because there is nowhere nearby for your kids to play and you won't let them go down to Center Street after 5pm because of the Corner Tap.  You have just enough money from your job as a mechanic further down Center Street, and from child-support payments from your ex-spouse, to pay your $350/month rent and the baby sitter.  You know better housing would be at least $100/month more.

G. You own the house at 1008 Nohelp Lane.  You grew up in the next block over, and you want you, your spouse, and your two elementary school-age children to stay in the neighborhood.  You are saddened by how run-down the neighborhood has become, and with the neighborhood school being closed a few years ago, there is no place in the neighborhood for kids to play.  You and your spouse have stable, working-class jobs, and probably could move to the suburbs, but really want to stay.  You also think much of the deterioration in the neighborhood is the result of the Corner Tap, which has driven respectable residents from shopping at other nearby businesses.

H. You own the house at 1004 Nohelp Lane.  You and your spouse are both retired and since neither of you had jobs that provided good retirement benefits, all you have are small social security payments.  You know you are losing ground financially, and fear that you will have to sell the house you have lived in for 52 years and move into one of those retirement villages, giving up all of your friends, some of who still meet on Tuesday nights at the Corner Tap.

I. You own the duplex at 1002 Nohelp Lane, which was willed to you last year when your grandfather died.  You'd love to get rid of it and move out of the neighborhood, but you can't sell it because it is falling down around you and has a million code violations.  You dropped out of high school, and the only work you can get is your bartending job at the Corner Tap, which just barely pays the bills.  You won't even rent the upstairs unit out because you don't think it's safe.

There is also a young couple renting the house at 1009 Nohelp Lane, and two other tenants above the Corner Tap, but they have said they aren't interested in "attending a lot of meetings" and "don't care what happens."

There is an abandoned duplex at 1003 Nohelp lane, and an abandoned single family home at 1006 Nohelp Lane.

There are three other abandoned mixed use (commercial and residential) buildings in the project area at 1997, 1999, and 2003 Center Street.

Your assignment is to come up with a plan for your project area and a budget to present to the city.  Present a new map of how the neighborhood will look when you are done, and a budget of the costs.

Information and Rules:

Double diagonals mean the building has numerous code violations, and rehab would be almost impossible because of structural decay. These buildings are condemnable.

Single diagonals mean the building is rehabbable (to code) – anything more is extra - at about $30,000 (residential) ($100,000 mixed use).

No diagonals mean the building requires no rehab to bring it up to code.

New construction costs about $60,000 for residential, $100,00 for mixed use.

Demolition costs $7,000 for residential, $12,000 for mixed use.

The cost of relocating a household (temporarily or permanently) is $5,000.

The absentee landlords that own occupied houses are willing to sell out for $30,000 for each building.

Abandoned buildings can be obtained for $1,000 in  administrative costs through the city’s land banking program.

Individual lots are now legally too small to construct a new house on.