ACER and Metro Blooms achieved excellent resident engagement by training a core group of community members as project stewards. A core group of tenants received additional leadership development training and committed significant time to building relationships with their neighbors. In a show of good faith, Sherman Associates provided funding to compensate the tenant organizers for their work.
Mike Shields was one of the tenants who took on project leadership. He said he already felt like a community leader, and saw the opportunity with ACER and Metro Blooms to make much-needed improvements at Autumn Ridge.
I know I’m not a very good follower, so that must mean I’m a good leader,
I care about where I live and I think if you’re passionate about something you can do something about it.
Mike and six other project stewards knocked on all 366 Autumn Ridge doors at least once, distributed flyers, and talked to tenants about why the participatory landscape project was important. They also served as hosts at community events, engaging residents in activities that surfaced community priorities and visualized site improvements. Shields said that residents got excited about the project when they realized they were empowered to create change.
One of the biggest issues we heard was that, as a community, no one felt included or significant,
When they realized they had a say in this project, it was the biggest turnout we’ve ever had at a community event.
With ACER’s support, the residents continue to meet, advocate for themselves, and plan for the future of Autumn Ridge. The resident leadership development was a pilot at Autumn Ridge and the city of Brooklyn Parkis considering investing in the model for other multi-family housing complexes in the city.
It gives the residents voice, and it also gives the city a channel through which to reach and engage with their constituents who are normally not included in most decision-making processes. It is a win for all,