D.C.’s Ward 8 residents are being asked to sign on to help chart the future of their community.
On Friday, the Ward 8 Community Economic Development Planning Process launched, with the goal of getting residents to come together and help create a comprehensive economic development plan for the area.
“The solutions are in the community and so if we invest in these communities like a Ward 8 they come up with the solution that we need to have,” said organization facilitator Mustafa Abdul-Salaam. “To make sure five, 10, 20 years out from now we’re the community that everyone wants to. Come move to ours because we’re the model community.”
According to Abdul-Salaam, there are very few models of a bottom-up community planning process in the country currently.
“We really have an opportunity — not only in improving our community, but to create a model for a national movement in this direction,” he said.
He also believes these kinds of local models are vital to show there is capacity at the local level to make change.
“That we we don’t need to wait for people outside to come in to do this work,” Abdul-Salaam, said. “Our success is going to be to the degree that we can get as many residents to participate in this, take ownership of it, understand it and see it as their vehicle to not only improve their lives but improve the lives of the community.”
The process to create the plan will include mapping out the area’s social, cultural and economic assets, and also taking note of the community’s challenges.
Then, they will set goals to build wealth and health, promote equity, and create social and economic assets to benefit Ward 8 residents and build a master plan to reach those goals.
Right now they are looking for members of the Ward 8 community to sign up to take part in the process by joining one of a number of subcommittees including: Arts and Culture, Business/Commercial Development/ Wealth Building, Education, Health Care, Housing, Public Safety, Seniors, Sustainable Environment & Energy, Transportation, Workforce Development, and Youth & Family Support.
Much of the funding support for the planning project came from the Bainum Family Foundation.
“Our goal is to target young children and their families in trying to support where systematic systemic issues have stopped and excluded them from opportunity,” said CEO and President David Daniels. “A child’s neighborhood should be a source of support for healthy growth and development and helping them with learning. It shouldn’t be an obstacle because they’ve been denied resources systematically that have denied them.”