“How do you think the meeting went?”
It’s a question I can’t help but ask myself after a community meeting like the one this week in Sistersville, WV, where we shared information about the Property Rescue Initiative. The Property Rescue Initiative gives cities and towns, counties and eligible organizations free technical assistance and loan financing to support initiatives around improving dilapidated buildings in their area.
In most cases the phrase “pretty well” sums it up, but for this meeting, I think “pretty well” is a bit of an understatement. Representatives from five municipalities were present. Four mayors, several city planners, one county Urban Renewal Authority, and a slew of other concerned and active community members were there to talk about potential solutions to the dilapidated building problem in their communities.
Even so, it can be difficult to know how successful a meeting really was, especially if it’s the first time you’re meeting folks from a community.
For me, the moment I know we’ve succeeded is the moment when folks who are at the meeting begin to move the conversation through their extreme frustration and sadness about the state of their town, and begin to suggest ways to address the problems that they are collectively facing. We came out of this meeting with a flip chart page full of ideas, some of the best of which came from folks who brought the most frustration into the meeting with them.
At this meeting, a number of different interests were represented: building owners concerned about ordinances forcing them to spend money they don’t have, elected officials charged with protecting the safety and well-being of their communities, and citizens concerned for their property values and their own well being. Because the Property Rescue Initiative doesn’t prescribe a certain solution, instead offering technical support in a number of areas that communities may need, folks with different goals can work together to make sure that the solutions they create are good for everyone and serve the unique challenges of their city.
It was just the first meeting in Sistersville and judging by the turnout, we’re going to need to make another trip (or 20). And I’m completely on board.
Want to learn more about the Property Rescue Initiative and what you can do to address dilapidated properties? Invite Taylor to share more information in your community (email firstname.lastname@example.org), or join us for the BAD Buildings Summit on Nov. 14th in Morgantown. Click here to register.