Neighborhood perceptions: How are they different?

In November and December, the Sustain Southern Maine team spent time talking with members of our communities who do not usually participate in planning discussions.

Specifically, we met with recent immigrants, not-so-recent immigrants, people in subsidized housing, people who were homeless, people who were almost homeless (they call it couch surfing) and people raising families in marginal circumstances.

For a range of reasons that include language barriers, lack of trust, or simply lack of time and interest, few of these individuals had previously been part of a planning process. Most were very pleased we came out to talk with them.

Essentially, we asked how they would rate their community, not just in terms of housing, jobs and transportation, but in general. Why do they live here? What do they like about their neighborhood? What’s missing?

We’d like to have that same conversation with all of you. From a planning standpoint, it will be interesting to hear if and how people who are generally more engaged in thinking about their community’s future (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably fall in that category) feel differently than those folks we talked with directly.

We’ll make the usual caveat here, that neither of these two “conversations” represent a valid sampling of any of these populations. But anecdotally, it will be an interesting comparison.

Please take the survey and let us know where your neighborhood and community excels and where it doesn’t.  At the end of January, we’ll publish the results and compare them with what we heard earlier. We suspect there will be some surprises.

By Carol Morris, Sustain Southern Maine Team Member

January, 2013