A few weeks ago, Dekalb County (and its project partner, Emory University Office of University-Community Partnerships) announced the implementation of a pilot community development program called the Dekalb Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative (DSNI). In this program, seven targeted “neighborhoods,” or communities — Clarkston, Columbia, Cross Keys, Lithonia, McNair, Stone Mountain, and Towers (each identified by the high school serving the respective community or neighborhood), have been given the opportunity to submit proposals for sustained, collaborative, comprehensive development. Two of these proposals will be selected by Dekalb County for implementation of this community development initiative, to include potential financial and other support over a prolonged period of time (approximately five years).
On May 14th, CDF, Clarkston residents, and organizations serving the Clarkston area (collectively, the “DSNI working group”), with input from approximately 70 residents and individuals representing over 25 local agencies and institutions (provided via online surveys and during community meetings), will submit a proposal for sustainable, comprehensive community development to the Dekalb County Department of Human and Community Development, the lead agency for this pilot initiative. The proposal references three community areas of emphasis selected by the DSNI working group (with the community input noted above) to be addressed over the duration of the program, these being, “The Learning Community,” “The Healthy and Safe Community,” and “The Connected Community.” These areas of emphasis had been identified, together with other areas of emphasis, during prior, unrelated CDF-sponsored community dialogue sessions in which residents of Clarkston gathered to share their visions for the community.
As part of its submission, the DSNI working group had to identify an early action project as evidence of its commitment to the DSNI collaborative development process. The DSNI working group identified the next- scheduled CDF dialogue session (to occur on August 2, 2012 at the Clarkston Community Center) and the scheduled “Focus on Connection” asset-based community development conference (to occur on August 3-4, 2012, also at the Clarkston Community Center) as its early action project(s) as, importantly, both evidence existing collaborative endeavors already planned for Clarkston.
The engagement and involvement of so many local residents and organizations in the development of the DSNI proposal in a matter of a few short weeks is truly a testament to the energy, commitment, concern, and strength of networks and relationships of so many residents of Clarkston and organizations working in Clarkston. If Clarkston is selected to participate in the pilot, CDF and the DSNI working group look forward to the continued support, engagement, and involvement of the residents of Clarkston and the organizations serving Clarkston.
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