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					                1999 ALTA SITA REVITALIZATION PLAN

                                       2. Methodology

Empowerment planning is the theoretical basis used by the East St. Louis Action Research
Project and this planning theory has been applied throughout the Planning Process in Alta Sita.
Therefore this Methodology section will focus on describing this planning theory. The first part
will be a theoretical description. This will be followed by an overview of how the theory was
applied in the work that has resulted in the present document.

2.1 Empowerment Planning
Empowerment Planning has its roots in Advocacy planning; a planning theory and praxis
developed by Paul Davidoff in 1965, as a challenge to the planning profession to become more
involved in the civil rights struggle. He claimed that planners should play a very important role
in elevating the lives of the oppressed and represent the underrepresented. Davidoff argued that
advocacy planners could create plans that addressed the special needs of certain segments of the
population and put their concerns on the policy-making agenda. This approach is often called
“plural planning”, because the idea is that multiple plans (plans made by the private, public, and
non-profit sectors) would improve the overall quality of local planning1.

In the years following Davidoff’s challenge, hundreds of plans were created under the
“advocacy” idea. Unfortunately, these plans had minor success because they were rejected by
the private sector that viewed these plans as attacks on the status quo2. An example of this
failed approach is The University of Illinois first attempt to do planning in East St. Louis. At
this point in time the ideas of empowerment planning were not yet applied and the result was
dissatisfaction both on the part of the students and faculty and among the residents. The initial
projects by the University of Illinois continued the traditions of "top-down" planning and design
practices without significant resident input. According to residents the initial failure lead to
faculty and staff beginning to listen to residents and modified their behavior to create a more
participatory approach which created tangible improvements in the city. It was these first
experiences that lead to the realization of the need for an alternative approach to planning in
East St. Louis. Advocacy planning, while acting on behalf of the poor and marginalized, does
not typically actively involve residents in the planning process. Like most traditional planning

1 Reardon, Kenneth M. 1996. Community development in low-income minority neighborhood: a case for empowerment
2 Hoch, Charles. 1993. Racism and planning.

Methodology                                                                                                     15
theory Advocacy Planning suffers from the assumption that “expert knowledge” is the “most
important” form of knowledge, and that residents everyday knowledge and experiences is

          “Underlying all of these elements of any accountability of the power of expertise is the
          expert’s lack of accountability to the non-experts affected by his or hers knowledge.
          Knowledge production, is accountable not to the public interest, not to the needs of the
          powerless who may be affected by it, but to an ideology which serves to justify the
          superiority of the experts – the ideology of science and objectivity.”3

In response to the problems of advocacy planning and traditional planning theory in general,
EMPOWERMENT PLANNING has emerged. The following table summarizes the differences
between Advocacy- and Empowerment Planning.4

        Dimensions                   Advocacy Planning                  Empowerment Planning
Casual analysis of urban      Lack of public officials           Elite opposition to redistribute
poverty                       knowledge of existing conditions   policies and participatory decision
                              in low-income communities          making processes
Primary planning goals        Enhancement of progressive         Enhancement of the problem solving
                              policies and programs by local     and political mobilizing capacity of
                              government                         community based organizations
The Planners role             Researcher, writer and advocate    PAR and community organization
The Citizen leaders role      Key informant and policy           Co-researcher, co-planner and co-
                              reviewer                           designer
The primary beneficiaries     Planner and existing community     Planner, existing community
                              leadership                         leadership, new resident leaders and
                                                                 community residents
The planning process          Linear problem-solving             Iterative problem solving approach of
                              approach by traditional            PAR combined with outreach and
                              comprehensive planners             leadership development emphasis of
                                                                 community organization
Table 2.1: Advocacy- and Empowerment planning compared

Clearly Empowerment planning addresses a number of issues that caused Advocacy planning to
be less effective. First it addresses the inequalities of the society in a different manor.
Inequalities are not caused by a lack of knowledge but by the fact that the Elite of the society
benefits from maintaining the Status Que.

    Park, Voices of Change, p.29
    Reardon, Kenneth M. Community development in Low-income minority Neighborhoods

16                                                                               Methodology
        “There are always costs to change in a dynamic economy, and invariably those who
        are the least articulate, least connected, and least well organized bear an inordinate
        share of the burden of these costs.”5

Empowerment planning is about changing the power structures of the society (See PAR p. 8),
and it is about personal and collective empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged
(ethnic/racial minorities, women, children, blue collar workers, poor rural people, etc.) (See
PAR & ECC pages 20 and 22). Another important part of how Empowerment planning is
different from advocacy planning, is the emphasis on getting people organized for action.
Endless meetings without action and tangible results will break the spirit of even the most
devoted residents and therefore action is always an integrated part of Empowerment planning
(see Direct Action Organizing, page 21). Contrary to most other planning theory, empowerment
planning acknowledges the everyday knowledge possessed by Neighborhood residents as
equally important to the scientific or technical knowledge possessed by the planner. Finally,
Empowerment planning’s purpose goes beyond changes in the physical structures and aims at
empowering residents for individual improvement and social change.

Another broader way of creating the context for understanding empowerment planning’s role in
the world of planning theory is to discuss the overall Rational of different planning theories.
The Norwegian Planning theorist, Tore Sager, has created a model in which he organizes a
number of important planning theory traditions according to their type of rationality. This model
is called the SITAR-model (first presented by Hudson in 1979, Sager’s SITAR model builds on
Hudson’s work) and is shown in the table below6.

To understand why rationality is important for understanding the variety of planning theories
and in particular the theories emphasis on the influence of the residents they are meant to serve,
let us define the concept of rationality:

  Reweaving the Fabric: The Iron Rule and the IAF Strategy for Power and Politics, Ernesto Cortes, JR,
p. 294-319 in Interwoven Destinies, ed. By Henry G Cisneros, W.W. Norton & Company (p.296)
  Sager, Communicative Planning theory, p. 42, table 2.2.

Methodology                                                                                          17
Rationality is:
    Reasons for choices made
    Descriptions of why something is a goal as opposed to other things not being goals
    Descriptions of how you came from a question to an answer
    A reflection of values held by the policy maker/planner/individuals/groups participating in
     the planning process
    A reflection of power structure in the planning context

     Rationality type                  Paradigmatic core                     Corresponding Planning
Instrumental rationality     Search of best possible combination of      Synoptic planning,
                             means for given ends                        Public sector strategic planning
Bounded instrumental         Search for satisfactory alternative,        Incrementalism (disjoint),
rationality                  given an unclear and partly collapsed       Strategic choice approach
                             means-end scheme
Communicative                Organize dialogue to promote                Transactive Planning
rationality                  democracy and personal growth and           Dialogical incrementalism
                             search for a solution agreed upon in        ---------------------------------------
                             undistorted communication                   EMPOVERMENT
Bounded communicative        Counteract structural communicative         PLANNING
rationality                  distortions to promote equal                ---------------------------------------
                             opportunities and build support for a       Advocacy Planning
                             reasonable effective and fair alternative   Planning as questioning and
                                                                         shaping attention
Other types of               E.g.: Political rationality preserves and   Recalcitrant Planning
rationality, e.g., system-   improves decision structures to prevent     i.e., planning emphasizing other
maintaining types, like      indecisiveness and internal conflict        rationality types than those
political and ecological                                                 above. E.g., radical planning and
rationality                                                              ecological planning
Table 2.2: SITAR model

The instrumental rationality has roots in the positivist way of thinking: “The optimal solution to
the problem exists and can be found by using the best quantitative methods from the world of
natural science”. Therefore in this type of planning theory only a minimum of resident
participation, or more precisely resident information, is encouraged. Communicative rationality
can be contributed to Habermass and his principles of comprehensive, sincere, legitimate and
true communication as the means to reach a common understanding and a solution desirable to
all. Empowerment planning is not part of Sager’s model but placed in between full and bounded
communicative rationality due to the characteristics that will be described in the following.

18                                                                                      Methodology

Characteristics of Empowerment Planning7:
This section will sum up the principals and the philosophy of Empowerment Planning.
Empowerment Planning emphasizes the involvement of residents in plan creating,
implementation and policy reform.              The belief is that through their lifetime experiences,
residents know what is wrong in their neighborhoods and in many cases know how to make
things better. The planner’s role is to add to the resident’s knowledge and create access to the
organizational and financial resources necessary to bring about change. Planners who wish to
practice Empowerment planning must believe in:

             Broad-based citizen groups are needed to influence public and private decision
              making ---“power to the people”
             Emphasis on the development of local citizen organization with the capacity to train
              residents in Participatory Action Research and Community Organizing
             Focus on training residents to be the leaders, rejection of the “expert model”
             Actively involve citizens in every step of the process – on equal footing with
              “professional planners”
             Planning process is not a linear path, straight from problem identification to
              implementation. Rather, it is a constant process of action and reflection and
              reshaping the process to address new information.
             Every step of the process is an opportunity to involve more and more residents

Empowerment planning combines Participatory Action Research, Direct Action Organizing and
Education for Critical Consciousness. In the following these components will be briefly

7 Reardon, Kenneth M. 1996. Community development in low-income minority neighborhood: a case for empowerment

Methodology                                                                                                     19

2.2 Participatory Action Research
PAR focuses on the inability of the positivist paradigm and research methods to promote social
change. The focus on finding the “truth” and being “objective” has reduced the complexity of
social systems and human beings, and this is what PAR is a reaction against.

        “Participatory research fundamentally is about who has the right to speak, to analyze
        and to act. …It is a process that support the voices from the margins in speaking,
        analyzing, building alliances and taking action.”8

PAR is not value free, on the contrary the researcher must share the believes of the community
he/she works in and actively promote the ideas of this community. PAR finds traditional
research methods oppressive in that they put little value on the knowledge of the people that are
in the center of the research, and the outcome of the research is often of little value to the
communities being studied. It has its historical roots in Latin America9 where social scientists
were active participants in the liberation of the poor from exploitation in the early 1960. It has
been used in various settings from the villages of 3.rd world countries, to a number of European
and Asian countries, to the Appalachian Mountains10 deprived rural communities, to the inner
cities of the United States11. The philosophy of PAR is that the production of knowledge
happens through solving real problems and the researchers and oppressed people work together,
thinking, analyzing and acting to solve these problems. PAR is a unification of theory and
practice that is reached by a process of democratic interaction between researcher and the
oppressed classes.

        “Participatory research fundamentally is about who has the right to speak, to analyze
        and to act. …It is a process that support the voices from the margins in speaking,
        analyzing, building alliances and taking action.”12

  Hall, Budd L., From Margins to Center? The development and Purpose of Participatory Research.
American Sociologist, Winter 1992, Volume 23, # 4, p.22
  Hall, Budd L., From Margins to Center? The development and Purpose of Participatory Research.
American Sociologist, Winter 1992, Volume 23, # 4, p.15-28
   Mary Ann Hinsdale, Helen M Lewis and S. Maxine Waller, .It comes from the People.
   The ESLARP web page, & Reardon, Kenneth M. Back from the Brink, Gateway Heritage, Winter
1997-98, P. 5-15, & Reardon, Kenneth M., Enhancing the capacity of Community-Based Organizations
in East St. Louis, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 1998 # 17, p. 323-333.
   Hall, Budd L., From Margins to Center? The development and Purpose of Participatory Research.
American Sociologist, Winter 1992, Volume 23, # 4, p.22

20                                                                           Methodology
Summarized, Participatory Action Research principles are:
           Commitment to the most marginalized groups
           Local residents determine the research agenda
           Local residents are involved as co-investigators at each step in the planning process
           Commitment to using knowledge to promote change, knowledge = power
           Willingness to take action when information may be imperfect or incomplete
           Combination of quantitative and qualitative methods
           Emphasis on building local capacity to solve complex issues
           Appreciate iterative nature of research
           Commitment to broad dissemination of information through scholarly and popular

2.3 Direct Action Organizing
The roots of direct action organizing (DAO) can be found in the Settlement House movement,
the Civil Rights era, the Women’s movement, and student movements across the country. Jane
Addams, John L. Lewis, Ella Baker and Saul Alinsky are important contributors to direct action
organizing. Many national networks regularly use DAO. These groups include the Industrial
Areas Foundation, ACORN, the Gamaliel Foundation and others.

Direct Action Organizing principles:
           Good ideas are rarely enough to achieve social reform – must act and organize on
           Broad base of organized political power is critical to implementation of
            community-initiated plans
           Community organizations seek to be representative of the neighborhoods they serve
            in terms of membership and leadership
           People will organize around issues that are of critical importance to them
           Use the issue to mobilize existing leaders and interested individuals
           Focus pressure on those holding the power
           Move to increasingly confrontational tactics until you get the desired response
           Participation in issue campaign provides a rich form of political education
           Collaborate with other groups, form partnerships with all sectors, increase support

Methodology                                                                                   21

2.4 Education for Critical Consciousness
A major component of Empowerment Planning is EDUCATION or what is often referred to as
“Education for Critical Consciousness”. This concept has its roots in Latin American Literacy,
land Reform and Social Justice Campaigns. The important contributors in the fields include
Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich, Myles Horton and Ira Schor. This theory and praxis is the basis for
liberation schools for children and adults throughout the world.

Education for Critical Consciousness principles:

           Personalize problems (example: poor street lighting is our problem to act on, not
            just the city’s problem)
           Examine the structural nature of problems
           Encourage individuals to compare the actual operation of their local political
            system with the “civic book” understanding of these systems
           Individuals are exposed to situation in which people just like them have mobilized
            to end oppressive social and economic problems
           People are challenged to work collectively to end the structures that oppress them

The model below summarizes how all these different Characteristics of Empowerment Planning
results in a real life planning procedure. In the following section the actual process in Alta Sita
will be described and it will illustrate how the Empowerment planning model was applied.

22                                                                            Methodology
                  1999 ALTA SITA REVITALIZATION PLAN

                                         Empowerment Model13
                                                Planning Process
           PLANNING                                                        COMMUNITY PARTNERS,
         PROFESSIONALS                                                         RESIDENTS

                                                                             Provide alternative data sources
            Provide basic data              Collect Community Data
                                                                               (interviews, historical info.)

                                                                           Mutual review and analysis of data.
 Mutual review and analysis of data        Identify and Analyze Issues
                                                                            Makes final decisions on analysis

      Makes recommendations and
                                                                             Decides on prioritization that is
      provides example for future               Prioritize Issues
                                                                                     most desired.

       Makes recommendatins and         Refine Issues, Develop Goals and
                                                                                  Makes final decisions.
          provides examples.                     Work Programs

       Makes recommendatins and
                                             Develop Strategies for
         provides examples for                                                    Makes final decisions.

                                                                           Provides volunteer labor, on-going
     Provides technical expertise and
                                              Implement Projects           training, long term staffing, vision
                                                                             carriers, and capacity buidling.

Figure 2.3: Model of the planning process in Empowerment Planning

13 Reardon, Kenneth M. and Damon Y. Smith. 1996. Citizen action for community development and municipal reform
in East St. Louis.

Methodology                                                                                                23

2.5 Empowerment Planning used for creating the revitalization plan
ESLARP’s primary goal is to improve the quality of life in East St. Louis through research,
teaching and outreach activities provided by UIUC students and faculty. ESLARP seeks to
achieve this goal by:

1. Supporting the community development efforts of East St. Louis neighborhood based
     organizations and municipal agencies.
2. Enhancing the planning, development and management capacity of the city’s non-profit
     organizations and government agencies.
3. Train a new generation of civic leaders and university students skilled in participatory
     approaches to community planning and design.
4. Pursuing basic and applied research on urban policy issues confronting the East St. Louis

The process of developing a neighborhood revitalization plan fit perfectly ESLARP’s goals and
philosophy so the project participants were happy to receive Dr. Hudlin’s request, on behalf of
ASNI, for assistance on developing a comprehensive plan for Alta Sita. The demand clearly
originates in the neighborhood and the awareness of ESLARP comes from the project’s
longtime (10 years) presence in East St. Louis. The members of ASNI had observed that
ESLARP had been working with other Neighborhood organizations on comprehensive plans,
and they saw that the planning process could lead to positive change in the direction of ASNI’s

The timeline below will summarize the process and following the timeline will be a more
detailed description of each part of the process.

January 1999             -Outreach    campaign      and   student   introduction   to   Alta   Sita
                         Neighborhood on the 29th & 30th
                         -Neighborhood Condition Survey on the 29th & 30th
February 1999            -ASNI meeting February 9th: Cognitive Mapping/Camera Exercise
                         -Collection and analysis of Census data
                         -Resident survey conducted on February 20th of 142 residents

24                                                                            Methodology
                         -Institutional survey conducted on February 26th and 27th of 15 public
                         officials, business owners etc.
                         -Infrastructure Condition Survey completed February 26th and 27th.
March 1999               -ASNI meeting March 9th: Student presentation of collected data and
                         resident feedback, results of photographic SWOT used in discussion.
                         -Preparation of neighborhood Summit.
                         -Outreach efforts for Neighborhood Summit
                         -Children’s Planning exercise on March 25th
April 1999               -Preparation and outreach for neighborhood Summit
                         -The Neighborhood summit took place on April 17th
                         -Student summarized the outcome of the summit related it to data
                         collection results and theory of urban planning and examples of similar
May 1999                 -ASNI meeting on May 11th: Evaluation of Summit, Student
                         presentation of results from summit and feedback from residents,
                         Preparation of residents for the planning process over the summer.
A time line for the activities from late May till December 1999 can be found on page 41

After ASNI had taken the first step to initiate a planning process, the neighborhood planning
class at the University of Illinois (UP378, spring 1999) got involved as the planning assistants
of the neighborhood. Two other classes, one Landscape architecture and one Architecture class
also focused in on Alta Sita as their main focus of the semester. The work on the Alta Sita
Neighborhood plan therefore became an interdisciplinary project. The planning class, in close
cooperation with ASNI and resident of Alta Sita, became the main responsible for organizing
the planning process and producing the planning document. The Landscape architecture and
Architecture classes produced physical improvement projects to reflect some of the ideas
developed through the planning process (see
and All three classes and
residents of Alta Sita were involved in the outreach and data collection efforts.

After ASNI initiated the planning process to be a collaborative effort with the student and
faculty of ESLARP the first task was to create awareness about the spring activities. This was
done through and extensive campaign in the last week of January. This campaign consisted of
press releases sent to local news media (see example page 27), pulpit announcements, visits to

Methodology                                                                                   25
all churches in the neighborhood by students, and most importantly door-knocking efforts in the
entire neighborhood. This last activity was carried out in the weekend of January 29th & 30th. A
group of students and residents knocked on every door in the neighborhood and gave general
information about ASNI and about the upcoming planning process emphasizing the importance
of broad participation. During this effort names, addresses and phone numbers of interested
residents were collected and notes very taken about residents ideas and concerns.

Data collection:
In the same weekend (January 29th & 30th) the data collection was initiated. The Neighborhood
Condition Survey (NCS) collects parcel-level data on building condition, material, occupancy,
evidence of fire damage, recent improvements, etc. The survey also collects data on the
condition of the property, the number of trees, the presence of sanitation violations, conditions
of the right-of-ways, etc. The data was collected using parcel maps, scantron forms and student

The scantron forms are quickly scanned and the coded data can be use in the creation of maps
and for further analysis. ESLARP has used the NCS for the last few years as one way to collect
information on the physical condition of East St. Louis neighborhoods. Land Use, Building
Conditions, and Site Condition Survey’s were completed for the entire neighborhood (See
results on pages *-*).

26                                                                          Methodology

                                            Outreach and Publicity

 Press Release, 1/25/99 - For Immediate Release

 Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc.
 1460 State Street
 East St. Louis, IL 62205


  The leaders of the Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. (ASNI) are pleased to announce the launch of a comprehensive
 neighborhood improvement initiative in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's
 East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP).

 Residents, businesses, and community-based organizations, including schools, churches, and fraternal
 organizations, located within the Alta Sita neighborhood (from 22nd to 36th Streets and from the Southern
 Railroad Tracks to the East St. Louis City Limits) are invited to participate in this exciting new community
 development effort.

 The Alta Sita Neighborhood Improvement Initiative will begin on Tuesday, February 9, 1999 at 6:30 P.M. at
 the St. Regis Catholic Church located at 3500 Market Avenue in the Alta Site neighborhood. Local residents
 and leaders are invited to share their regarding how to improve Alta Sita's existing housing stock, expand
 recreational opportunities, enhance education and training opportunities, improve police protection, and
 strengthen municipal enforcement of local sanitation codes.

  Architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning students from the University of Illinois will be
 canvassing the Alta Sita neighborhood on January 29th and 30th on behalf of the Alta Site Neighborhood Inc.
 to invite neighborhood residents, leaders and businesses to become involved in this grassroots planning
 process. Similar neighborhood plans developed by residents of the Emerson Park, Lansdowne, Edgemont,
 Olivette Park, and Winstanley/Industrial Park neighborhoods with the assistance of the University of Illinois
 have produced over $3 million in neighborhood improvements. Among the projects completed by these
 community/university partnerships were the construction of the Illinois Avenue Playground, renovation of the
 Cannady School Playground, erection of African Huts at the Dunham Museum as well as the development of
 the East St. Louis Farmers Market.

 For more information regarding the Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. or the comprehensive neighborhood
 improvement initiative, please contact:

 Dr. Helen Hudlin                    Ms.Latonya Burton
 Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc.           Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center (NTAC)
 1460 State                          Street 348 R Collinsville Avenue
 East St. Louis, IL 62205            East St. Louis, IL
 (618) 875-1030                      (618) 271-9605

 For the convenience of those wanting to attend the ASNI meeting, childcare, as well as refreshments will be
 provided. If in need of transportation to the meeting, please contact either Ms. Latonya Burton at the NTAC or
 Mrs. O’Dell Winslow on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays between 10:00a.m. and 2:00p.m.

Figure 2.4: Example of press release used in the process of creating the Alta Sita Neighborhood
revitalization Plan

Methodology                                                                                           27

The next step in the data collection was for the students to collect summarize and analyze
Census Data (See results on p. *-*). This activity has three major objectives:

1. To create a profile of the Alta Sita neighborhood in terms of population, housing, income,
     employment and education.
2. To identify trends in the data over the last few decades to show changing conditions.
3. To draw comparisons between the neighborhood data and the City of East St. Louis and St.
     Clair County.

The residents participated as co-investigators in the data collection. The monthly ASNI meeting
in February was therefore dedicated to two exercises. These activities served both as data
collection and as a training session for residents on how to define their neighborhood
boundaries, and neighborhood strengths and weaknesses. Prior to the meeting students did
extensive phone calling outreach to the resident list generated in the weekend of January 29th.
This outreach effort resulted in approximately 35 residents at the February meeting.

The two exercises were a cognitive mapping exercise and a photographic recording of Strength,
Weaknesses, Opportunities and Constraints (SWOT) of the Alta Sita Neighborhood. The
purpose of both exercises was to gather data from the resident’s everyday perception of
neighborhood conditions. The philosophy behind this strategy is that residents through their
everyday use of the neighborhood know where and what needs to be in focus of the planning
process. In this way the cooperative planning process starts out at the residents terms and puts
value on the knowledge that exists in the neighborhood. In relation to the empowerment model
in figure 2.3 this is an example of providing alternative data sources (see, figure 2.3, in the
community partners, residents column, first row) Another purpose of the two exercises is to
encourage all participants to pay close attention to their surroundings and thereby become better
investigators leading to a more detailed and precise collection of data. Below, see the
descriptions of the cognitive mapping exercise. For the results of the exercise see page *. The
cognitive mapping exercise was successful in the way it lead to discussion among residents and
thereby informed both other residents and participating students about characteristics of Alta
Sita. The Photographic SWOT was also initiated at this meeting, where residents volunteered to
take home a disposable camera and a form to fill out. The exercise consisted in resident walking
around their neighborhood taking pictures that to them symbolizes the Strength, Weaknesses,

28                                                                           Methodology
Opportunities and Constraints of the neighborhood, and for each picture write a brief
description on the form about what this picture shows. The results of this exercise were
presented at the March ASNI meeting and it was used to illustrate resident’s evaluation of the
student’s presentation of the collected data. In this way real life examples was connected to the
statistics of the students data analysis, giving support for the findings and more detailed
information to work with in starting to form opinions on what type of problems and
opportunities the Alta Sita Revitalization plan should include. In this way the exercise was used
a mutual review and analysis of data in order to make a final decision on whether the data
analysis portrays an accurate picture of neighborhood conditions. This relates to figure 2.3: The
empowerment model, in the community partners, resident’s column where this type of process
is placed in the second row.

Methodology                                                                                  29

                            Cognitive Mapping exercise 2/9/99

     Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc.
     Mapping Our Neighborhood Activity
     February 9, 1999
     St. Regis Roman Catholic Church

 Long-term residents, businesspersons and institutional leaders (pastors, principles,
 coaches) in every community possess a great deal of information regarding the
 neighborhood where they live, work and serve! Community revitalization plans, which tap
 this enormous reservoir of community knowledge, are much more likely to produce the
 outcomes which residents want!

 During the next twenty to thirty minutes, we would like you to work in groups of five to
 help us identify the most important features of the Alta Sita neighborhood! With the
 assistance of planning and design students from the University of Illinois from Urbana-
 Champaign, we would like you to use the color markers provided to highlight the
 following key characteristics of your neighborhood on the maps you have been given!
 When each resident planning team has finished this activity, we would like to have a
 member of your group present your findings to the rest of our meeting!

 Important Features

 1. Draw the traditional boundaries of the Alta Sita neighborhood, as you understand
    them, using the black marker.

 2. Draw the traditional boundaries for any recognized sub-areas of the Alta Sita
    neighborhood, please circle and name these districts (i.e. industrial area, shopping
    center, church row, etc.) using the blue marker.

 3. Locate and label the names of the neighborhood's most important local landmarks (i.e.
    schools, churches, parks, historic homes) using the brown marker.

 4. Locate and label Alta Sita’s most important resources or assets (i.e. businesses, social
    service agencies, housing complexes, public service- oriented families) using the
    green marker.

 5. Locate and label Alta Sita’s most important problem sites/areas (i.e. flooding,
    speeding, crime, vacant buildings, illegal dumping) using the red marker.

 6. When each team has filled in their map, we will ask a representative of each group to
    report on your work! As each group spokesperson makes their report, we will transfer
    this information onto our “wall-sized” map of Alta Sita.

 Figure 2.6: Instruction to Cognitive mapping exercise.

30                                                                          Methodology
The next data gathering effort were the Resident and Institutional interviews. The success of the
planning efforts in Alta Sita will depend on the level of participation and input received from
residents of the neighborhood. The planning team (ASNI and ESLARP students and faculty)
has throughout the process been committed to making sure that the comprehensive plan
embodies the actual perceptions, goals and visions of the residents living in Alta Sita. The
random interviews collected both quantitative and qualitative data regarding the strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing Alta Sita. Specific objectives of the interview
process included:

   Gathering resident perceptions of current neighborhood conditions and services;
   Gathering resident input on the desired goals and directions of the plan so that the planning
    efforts can be based on these desires;
   Gathering resident input on resources and barriers that might serve to enhance or hinder the
    revitalization efforts; and
   Enhancing community awareness of the revitalization project and Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc
    to elicit community participation in future planning efforts.

To achieve a representative picture of life in Alta Sita, thirty students and a group of residents
conducted 142 resident interviews in Alta Sita and the adjacent unincorporated areas of East St.
Louis township. The interviews were conducted door-to-door in teams of two students and/or
one student paired with a resident of the neighborhood. Each student and resident participant
received training in how to use the survey form (see appendix *), the scantron and on effective
interviewing techniques. Each survey took approximately 30 to 60 minutes. The survey
consists of 87 questions, 18 of which are open ended.

At the February 9th Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. meeting, residents were asked to volunteer to
accompany students on February 20th for the door-to-door interviews. Ten residents were
paired with U of I students for the interviewing efforts. The planning team sees this level of
participation as a very effective way to spread the word about current planning efforts, resident
to resident. The students who were paired with residents also commented on how much they
had learned from their "expert" partners (see results page *).

Methodology                                                                                       31
Students and faculty conducted the Institutional Interview in a following weekend. For this
purpose a number of public officials, business owners and church leaders were contacted and
asked to participate. 15 interviews were set up and completed. This survey focused on the
business/institutions type of service, how that relates to the Alta Sita neighborhood and how a
neighborhood plan could include programs that would improve the service this institution
provides. The Institutional survey also included more general question regarding the
interviewees’ perception of strength and weaknesses in the Neighborhood (see survey form
appendix * and results page *).

The final data collection effort that was completed was the Neighborhood Infrastructure
Condition Survey (ICS). The ICS collects ¼ Block-level data on Street/curb/sidewalk condition
and materials. The survey also collects data on the condition of streetlights, fire hydrants,
manholes, street drains, street- and stop signs, stoplights and parking. The data on
Street/curb/sidewalk condition and materials, the condition of streetlights, fire hydrants,
manholes, street drains and parking is collected using scantron forms and teams of student
volunteers. ESLARP has used the ICS for the last few years as one way to access the physical
condition of East St. Louis neighborhoods (see results page *).

The ICS:
    Provides an additional level of data that can be added to Census data, resident and
     institutional surveys, Neighborhood Condition Survey etc.
    Identifies where the urban infrastructure is intact and where revitalization is needed.
    Identifies sanitation code violations that the neighborhood can lobby around for municipal
    Assesses the condition of the neighborhood to assist in determining the best actions for
     improving the quality of life.
    Introduces students to a systematic and organized way to effectively collect, analyze and
     use detailed data.
    Enables us to create powerful maps to communicate neighborhood conditions.

32                                                                             Methodology

Discussion of the collected data:
     ASNI meeting in March:
At the ASNI meeting in March the student had a preliminary report of all the data ready to share
with residents. To get as many residents as possible to give input on these data, extensive phone
calling and flyering of the neighborhood were conducted. At the meeting the students had
prepared a presentation that summarized the census data, the physical condition data and the
resident interviews. After this presentation the Photographic SWOT was completed using the
pictures that the resident had taken since the February meeting. One the background of this data
presentation a discussion of what should be the primary goals of the Alta Sita Neighborhood
Plan was initiated, and the following broad issues were identified:

   Economic development,
   Housing,
   Family and senior development,
   Infrastructure and municipal services,
   Community organizing,
   The natural environment.

Prior to determining the exact scope of the plan ASNI and ESLARP agreed that even more
residents needed to have a say at this important decision-making stage. One of the groups that
had not been heard so far were the children, and to get them involved a children’s planning
exercise (see page * for the results of this event) was arranged. To get broader neighborhood
participation, a neighborhood summit was arranged to take place at April 17th at the Alta Sita
elementary School. These two events are briefly described in the following.

     School children’s planning exercise:
As part of the planning process, students devised a neighborhood planning activity for the
children attending the Alta Sita Elementary School at 26th Street and Bond Avenue. Children
are the future planners, architects and policy makers of this country. By instilling in them at an
early age the importance of smart planning that preserves the environment, fosters diversity and
eliminates threats to health and safety, children will grow up with a better understanding of how
to be active members of their communities. Introducing students to planning also helps them to
see the world and the problems that face their families with the hope that future actions will
improve the quality of life in declining urban areas. These same children will be around to see

Methodology                                                                                   33
the implementation and effects that "our" plan have on their quality of life - equipping them
with the knowledge to assess plans will mean future plans that are better able to address the
most critical planning problems. If at an early age we can assist children in identifying the
elements in their surroundings that bring them joy as well as pain, then we can teach them that
smart planning practices can ameliorate the effects that poverty, deterioration and
disinvestments have on our urban areas.        Teaching children about planning is valuable
education - it creates a greater consciousness about their communities and shows them that their
space in the neighborhood can be more positive if their actions and reactions foster positive
neighborhood interactions.    Students who learn the importance of their actions in their
communities will grow up to be more active and informed members of our society. Planning
education for youth promotes democracy by giving students a voice in the future of their
neighborhood and by developing more creative, inquisitive and involved adults.

At the day of this event (March 25th) Fifty-one students of the Alta Sita Elementary School's
after school program joined about a dozen students from the University of Illinois from 3:30 -
5:30 p.m. for an afternoon of neighborhood planning. The event was held in the gymnasium of
the school and was attended by administrators, teachers, members of ASNI and parents.

Picture 2.7: At the children’s planning exercise

34                                                                         Methodology
First the children enjoyed pizza and juice and informally met the University students. Secondly,
the student-team thanked the school and the students for welcoming the University group to
share in their after-school program and a brief overview of the remaining activities of the
afternoon was given. The Children identified what they like about their lives in Alta Sita and
what they don't like in terms of people and places. The fifty-one kids were divided into six
groups depending on their age. Two University students joined each group of 8 to 10 kids.
Large sheets of white paper were taped to the wall near each group and the kids were asked to
provide the following:
          "My 3 Favorite Alta Sita People..."
          "My 3 Favorite Alta Sita Places to Visit..."
          "My 3 Least Favorite Places in Alta Sita..."

Each group produced long lists for each statement and the children were rewarded with
chocolate kisses for identifying the great and not so great aspects of their neighborhood. These
lists covered the walls of the gymnasium. After that the children create personalized displays of
their neighborhood now and in their dreams. Each child was given a 24x36 sheet of cardboard
covered with white paper. Younger kids were given crayons and older kids were equipped with
markers. While the kids were drawing, the UI students were asking them to explain what they
were drawing and then a caption was placed under each box – in this way the children were
naming their world!

An exhibition of children’s artwork was created in the Alta Sita School. The 51 displays
created by the children of Alta Sita School were hung around the entire perimeter of the
gymnasium and stayed up throughout the Neighborhood Summit on April 17th. In this way the
childres voice were heard at the Summit. The displays represented their voice and served as a
reminder for participants in the summit that children are the future of Alta Sita and their ideas
should be included in the planning process. Each student was given a letter for their parents
inviting them to the Neighborhood Summit. To see how the work of the children of Alta Sita
School has been incorporated into the 1999 Alta Sita Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, see
page *. The Children’s Planning exercise was yet another example of providing alternative
data sources to the planning process (see, figure 2.3, in the community partners,
residents column, first row).

Methodology                                                                                  35
      Alta Sita Neighborhood Summit
On April 17, 1999 the first ever Alta Sita Neighborhood Summit was held at Alta Sita
Elementary School. Prior to the summit approximately 300 invitations were send out to
residents and resource people in the community and in the days up to the meeting phone calls
were made to remind all of the upcoming event. Below in figure 2.7 is a copy of the invitation
send to residents and friends of Alta Sita.

Dear Friends of Alta Sita,

You are cordially invited to participate in the 1999 Alta Sita Neighborhood Summit to be held on Saturday, April 17th
from 9:30a.m. to 4:00p.m. at the Alta Sita School at 2600 Bond Avenue.
The goal of this meeting is to formulate a comprehensive neighborhood improvement plan that addresses Alta Sita’s
most critical environment, infrastructure, employment, housing, youth development and municipal service needs.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s recent decision to designate St. Louis, East St. Louis
and Wellston an “Empowerment Zone” will provide our neighborhood with greater access to state and federal
economic and community development funding. These funds are only available to neighborhoods whose residents
have developed detailed community revitalization plans!

Hopefully you have noticed all the excitement surrounding the Alta Sita neighborhood in the last couple of months!
Since January, Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. has partnered with the University of Illinois’s East St. Louis Action Research
Project to conduct a participatory planning process for the revitalization of Alta Sita. You may have seen students
from the University cleaning lots in Alta Sita, going door-to-door interviewing over 150 residents or participating in
neighborhood meetings. The partnership has collected detailed information regarding environmental, economic and
social conditions in our neighborhood. A summary of residents’ perceptions of the strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats confronting our neighborhood is enclosed as well as the proposed development goals and
objectives for Alta Sita. Your response to these and other planning proposals will be the focal point of our April 17 th

Our next step is to gather as many residents, business owners, pastors, institutional leaders and social service
providers as possible in one room for a full day of brainstorming on the future of Alta Sita. Alta Sita residents and
local leaders attending the Neighborhood Summit will use this and other information to design a framework that will
guide the future development of our neighborhood. Your views on how residents, in partnership with local leaders,
can improve local housing conditions, infrastructure, the environment, youth activities and economic development will
be included in a Neighborhood Improvement Plan focusing on the next five years. We are confident that the Alta
Sita Neighborhood Summit will result in an impressive strategy for improving Alta Sita. However, this is
only possible with your active participation in the Summit.

Please mark Saturday, April 17th on your calendar and plan to participate in the Alta Sita Summit. Transportation is
available to and from the Summit starting at 9:00a.m. on Saturday. A delicious and complimentary BBQ lunch will be
served and childcare is provided free of charge. A special feature of the Neighborhood Summit will be an exhibition
of children’s art produced by students enrolled in the after-school program of the Alta Sita Elementary School. Show
your support for these young people by participating in the Neighborhood Summit. Please call Dr. Helen Hudlin at
875-1030 or Ms. LaTonya Burton at 271-9605 to reserve space at the luncheon and to arrange for transportation.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Summit!

Figure 2.7: Invitation to the Neighborhood Summit

36                                                                                            Methodology
                      1999 ALTA SITA REVITALIZATION PLAN
      The event was an all day planning and problem-solving session with the goal of addressing Alta
      Sita's most critical environment, infrastructure, employment, housing, youth development and
      municipal services needs. The Summit brought together in the same room residents of Alta Sita,
      representatives from City Hall, University of Illinois faculty and students, social service
      providers and leaders of other neighborhood organizations to discuss the future of Alta Sita. .
      The agenda of the day was as follows:

      I.      Registration and Complimentary Coffee & Donuts
              9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
      II.     Welcome to the Alta Sita Summit! – Dr. Helen Hudlin, President of Alta Sita
              Neighbors, Inc.
              10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
      III.    Greetings from City Hall, Mrs. Dianne Bonner, Director of CBDG
              10:15 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.
      IV.     Review of the Summit’s Agenda and the Goals of the Day, Mrs. Darlene Lasley
              10:25 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.
      V.      Presentation and discussion of:
              Alta Sita Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
              Alta Sita Goals and Objectives
              10:40 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
      VI.     Break-out into Issue Committees, Brainstorm on Innovative Program Development
              (Environment and Open Space, Economic Development, Housing, Infrastructure and
              Municipal Services, Youth and Senior Services, Improving Our Organization)
              11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
COMPLIMENTARY LUNCH Provided by Dewey Carpenter’s Greatest BBQ and Sterling Catering
      VII.    Program Prioritization and Development with “Friends of Alta Sita”
              (Regional professionals recognized as leaders in each of the above issue areas.)
              1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
      VIII.   Group Presentation of Programs to Revitalize Alta Sita
              3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
      IX.     Summit Evaluation

      Methodology                                                                                37
Approximately seventy people attended the Summit - a favorable turnout for an all day event.
The day began at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome from Dr. Helen Hudlin, president of Alta Sita
Neighbors, Inc. and from Ms. Diane Bonner, director of Community Development Block Grant
Operations Corporation. Ms. Darlene Lasley, life-long resident of Alta Sita, presented the goals
of the Summit and reviewed the agenda for the day. Two university students presented a slide
show of the S.W.O.T. analysis. The attendees then made a few changes to the analysis, and the
students recorded these changes.

Picture 2.8: Dr. Helen Hudlin at the Neighborhood summit

At this point the group divided into six teams (see figure 2.9) according to residents main
interest. Below in figure 2.9 is the guidelines given to the groups to describe the work to take
place in these issue committees.

38                                                                         Methodology

      Description of Issue Committees
Today you will have an opportunity to work on one of the following Issue Committees. Take a look below
and think about which one you might want to join.

Environment and Open Space: Concerned about potential pollution? Would you like to see Virginia Park made
more attractive? Attend this committee and discuss these and other matters.

Economic Development: Do you want to see more businesses on Bond? If so, what kind? Would you like to see
Alta Sita residents have better access to living wage jobs? Come chat about it.

Housing: Alta Sita has some wonderful old homes and some that are in disrepair. Additionally, there are many
vacant lots that might be developed. How could we do this? Let us know what you think.

Infrastructure and Municipal Services: Are you worried about the lack of Municipal Code enforcement? Would
you like to see the streets, sidewalks or sewers on your block repaired? We want to hear about it.

Youth and Senior Services: Are there enough educational, cultural or recreational opportunities for the youth of
Alta Sita? What about for seniors? What should be done to improve this? Let us hear about it.

Improving Our Organization: There are a lot of things that the Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. needs to work on, but we
need to get organized. How can we be more effective? How can we get more people involved? Join us and help
the organization grow.

Issue Committee Discussion Points
In order to get the most out of the time that we have together, we need to move quickly and efficiently in our
discussion. It would help if we keep the following in mind today:

1.   All ideas are good ideas.

2.   Let’s give everyone a chance to speak.

3.   Try and keep your comments under 3 minutes-we’ve got a lot to cover!

4.   Let’s keep on task!
Figure 2.9: Description of work in Issue Committees.

Prior to lunch, the six teams brainstormed on possible projects / programs to meet the objective
of their focus area. Each group thought of at least twenty possibilities. After lunch, the six teams
re-grouped and began prioritizing their program ideas according to Current Year, short-term and
long-term projects. The teams put each idea into one of these categories and listed them in order
of importance. The final team activity was to select one of the prioritized programs and fully
develop it in term of costs, implementation, and participating organizations. Each team then
selected a spokesperson to present their developed program to the large group. The six program

Methodology                                                                                                  39
ideas were received with great enthusiasm and representatives from City Hall supported the
program ideas. The programs presented included a new community center, a three-pronged
strategy for strengthening Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc., an elderly or disabled housing rehab
assistance program, and a sewer improvement plan.

Picture 2.8 Discussion sessions at the neighborhood summit

Throughout the summit all changes, comments, ideas, suggestions positive and negative
feedback was recorded and the students incorporated all this information into one presentation.

The next event was the regular ASNI meeting the second Tuesday of May. The agenda for this
meeting is shown below on page 41

40                                                                          Methodology
X.         Evaluation of the Neighborhood Summit-
XI.        Small Issue Group Meetings-
XII.       Large Group Discussion-
XIII.      Where we Go From Here-
           Discuss proposed summer schedule for completing the neighborhood planning process.

The residents gave the Summit a very positive critiqe. It was a shared perception that it had
been beneficial to have the very broad group of residents, business owners and public officials
together in one room to discuss the future and inspire better solutions for addressing the needs
of Alta Sita. Students presented their summaries of the summit to the residents as the next point
on the agenda. This presentation was shared with residents in small issue groups with a student
presenting the results to a group of residents that participated in equivalent issue committee at
the summit. In this way it was ensured that the message the students recorded was true to what
the residents had expressed at the summit. These small groups would following their discussion
come back together as a large group to discuss the results of the small issue group meetings.
This process lead to the final list of issue areas that residents believe should be included in the
Alta Sita Revitalization Plan:
          Improving the Organizational Capacity of ASNI
          Economic development in Alta Sita
          Neighborhood Housing Solutions for Alta Sita
          Infrastructure and the environment in Alta Sita
          Youth & Senior services

The process ahead was now to fully develop program ideas in a way enabling ASNI to know
exactly what to do, to make improvements in these five areas a reality in the Alta Sita
neighborhood. For this purpose a research assistant was hired by ESLARP to work with ASNI
over the summer to fully develop the projects. The time line for these meeting were as follows:

June 8th 1999              Presentation of programs to address organizational capacity of ASNI
                           was presented by ESLARP research assistant and residents gave
                           feedback to the presentation.
June 22 1999               Presentation of programs to address Economic Development in Alta
                           Sita was presented by ESLARP research assistant and residents gave
                           feedback to the presentation.

Methodology                                                                                       41
July 13th 1999           Presentation of programs to address Youth and Senior services were
                         presented by ESLARP research assistant and residents gave feedback to
                         the presentation.
July 27th 1999           Presentation of programs to address Housing Solutions was presented
                         by ESLARP research assistant and residents gave feedback to the
August 10 1999           Presentation of programs to address Infrastructure and the environment
                         in Alta Sita were presented by ESLARP research assistant and residents
                         gave feedback to the presentation.

The research assistant prepared a draft of the programs for of each of 5 remaining issue areas
for each ASNI meeting (over the summer 2 monthly meeting were conducted). At the ASNI
meeting this draft would be discussed in details and residents would make changes. The
research assistant would incorporate resident’s changes into a final draft of the program, and
this process was repeated for all five issue-areas. Prior to these meetings the draft would be
shared with Dr. Hudlin and the ASNI block captains, and postcard reminders were send to
approximately 180 resident. After the august meeting the only remaining task of the planning
process was to write the final draft of the plan including all the input that came out of the five
summer meetings. This process throughout October and a copy of the full plan were sent to Dr.
Hudlin for review in early November. At the regular November ASNI meeting, November 9 th,
the plan was presented to the residents that participated in the meeting and a group of teen
residents volunteered to read through the plan and give feedback before a final draft was
completed. The residents therefore had a final chance to make sure that no mistakes were made
and that all the residents input from the summer meetings were included.

The following Chapter will present the profile of the Alta Sita Neighborhood using the
following data:
    Census data
    Physical condition survey
    Infrastructure survey

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