We presented our original diagram to Tim, who was able to fill in a lot blanks we had and identify or edit important connections that we had not made.
Tim pointed out that ACTION Housing, who we had originally considered to be a key player in Hazelwood, was actually leaving the GHCC, but would remain in Hazelwood as a landlord. We are considering this important because ACTION Housing had been heavily involved with both government and corporate entities and by essentially leaving the community, was cutting ties between those groups and Hazelwood.
We had planned two different activities to help spark conversation with the community members we spoke to. We created a drawing prompt exercise to break the ice, and a map with stickers where together we could create an ideal Hazelwood. And while neither of them went over that well, we did learn a good deal about how community members receive and disperse information, as well as a little more background on the gang dynamics.
The map activity encouraged the most dialogue, and we learned about what areas used to be prosperous, where most of the original inhabitants live, where the violent areas are, and where one woman would like to see more local business pop up.
Communication is key component to exercising power in Hazelwood, and we wanted to understand how people are hearing about new developments like Almono and Uber. We also though it was important to see how involved the community wanted to be, but we learned that Tim’s enthusiasm is not always matched by everyone in Hazelwood. One woman we spoke to said “It’s really hard to get people involved, we can talk to them but they won’t say anything until it’s too late.”
She also said most people learn about what is happening to the neighborhood from Pastor Tim, or other churches in the area.