The hallways at Atlanta Area School for the Deaf were filled with the diversity of Clarkston. Ninety-two Clarkston residents speaking 10 different languages gathered last night to determine a priority for the community to fund. The meeting was the first in the process of the Clarkston Community Trust, which is in its inaugural year.
Residents split into small groups to ponder the question, “What should be the top priority for the community this year?” They discussed 10 themes, which were gathered from previous community conversations. Once discussion on each person‘s priority was complete, residents ranked the themes with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. Each theme was based on criteria of need, equity, and local support. All the scores were tallied and averaged, determining Education as the priority for funding this year. Education was followed by Safety.
“100% of the decisions made here tonight were made by residents,” said Jeremy Lewis, CDF’s Director. “We accomplished what we set out to do which was to be involved in a process where residents would decide what happens in their community. We did that tonight. Residents identified a theme and selected Trustees who they trust to make it happen. It was amazing to see people have genuine conversations about what matters most to them and knowing they would make the final decision. “
Residents also selected 18 Trustees from residents and people who work or have businesses in the community. These Trustees will host meetings on September 22, October 13, and November 10, to brainstorm project ideas that fall under the priority of Education and can be completed with the amount in the fund. The current fund is just over $50,000. The fund may be increased between now and September 21 through individual donations. 85% of donations made during this timeframe will go toward the 2013 priority, giving residents an opportunity to increase the impact of the project that is selected, and the remaining 15% will be applied to the Trust fund for next year.
The Trust was founded by CDF: A Collective Action Initiative as a way to engage residents in making direct decisions about their community. All residents of the 30021 zip code, age 16 and older, regardless of citizenship status, were encouraged to attend. CDF provided translation for nine language groups and provided transportation.