The University of Georgia’s Center of Community Design and Preservation (CCDP) at the College of Environment and Design (CED) was invited by a community revitalization task force to help members of the Fairmont community initiate improvements to their neighborhood. The project scope involved creating linkages between the Fairmont Homes public housing campus, the Griffin Vocational School – which includes an original Rosenwald Fund school building – and the surrounding Fairmont Neighborhood. The tool for developing those ideas and gathering public input was the “design charrette.”
The charrette process uses a holistic approach, taking into consideration all facets of the neighborhood to help develop potential plans and designs. A team of students and faculty focused on assets of the Fairmont community to create a participatory planning process. The outcome of the process is outlined in this report. It highlights the CCDP’s approach to community-based change that celebrates history while allowing for growth and development.
The Human Factor:
The success of any local project belongs first and is most affected by the residents and property owners. Without strong local collaboration the process that had occurred up until now would not have happened. This spirit of connectedness to place, the Fairmont Neighborhood, and cohesion will move the projects
undertaken as a result of the Charrette forward. The next generation will be the ultimate recipients of the good work that Griffin is doing now. The children and grandchildren of the visionaries today will reap the rewards of continued hard work done now. Decline has not happened overnight nor will revitalization, it is a slow and methodical journey that always comes back to the impact that this will have on the future. Changes that are happening today will be realized many years in the future. Some visual improvements will have immediate effect and help to bouy the spirits of those stewards of these improvement plans. Local enthusiasm must remain high and commitment should never falter. Organizing committees and implementation plans must include local beneficiaries. The buy-in by locals for changes that will be happening must follow the age-old and time-tried methods of inclusion, transparency and constant communication. Workshops, newsletters, social media and neighborhood events will help provide access to local residents. Youth programs must be a part of the process of revitalization. Celebration of success must occur regularly. Community revitalization and involvement of locals is much like tending gardens, pruning shrubs and cultivating crops. It requires vigilance, careful observation, timely reaction and patience. In the end, rewards will happen, disparate parts of the neighborhood will be rewoven and mistakes can be corrected.
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