By Kayleigh Minicozzi:
Utilizing the strategy of divide and conquer when confronting community development initiatives, Eastwood area residents implemented a new Neighborhoods of Choice program to accelerate their five-year neighborhood plan.
"Neighborhoods are like a big family, we all don't always see eye to eye on everything but we all do want to achieve what's best for the whole group," said Bob Rice, neighborhood coordinator from the Syracuse Department of Community Development. "You have a common denominator across the board in that respect but there are specific individualized needs in different sectors of the neighborhood, and this program will hopefully address them."
The Neighborhoods of Choice program is one of the recent initiatives crafted by the Eastwood area Tomorrow's Neighborhoods Today (TNT) organization. In order to increase widespread community involvement and enact proactive change, the plan basically takes the Eastwood area and splits it up into four defined sections, which the group found possessed similar economic and community characteristics.
"We are seeing so many more people show up for our monthly meetings because they feel more connected now because they know that we are going to talk about and give a platform for their individualized concerns," said Lisa Matthews, one of the group facilitators for the Eastwood TNT group. "Getting more people involved means hearing more voices and getting more action."
The Eastwood group meets once a month as a community to address pressing issues that are confronting the entire area, as well as provides a forum for open discussion. In the past the group has functioned as one unit but after creating their five-year neighborhood plan last December, the group has been trying to develop new strategies to insure that members from ever corner of the district are represented and all concerns are being addressed.
"This really shows how we are more focused on really filling the gaps that exist in our community conversations," said Lee Fordock, a resident of Eastwood that regularly attends TNT meetings. "The people know what they want done and I think this shows that the group is willing to unite to get it done."