Columbia residents gather for neighborhood organizing workshop


About 13 people gathered for a strategic planning neighborhood workshop held Wednesday night.

The workshop was designed to give community leaders, citizens and neighborhood association members the necessary skills to bring their communities together via strategic planning, according to a power point slide done by Larry Dickerson and Johanna Reed Adams, two community development specialists.

The first of the workshop’s three activities asked residents about their favorite parts of their neighborhoods.

“I like to coax my cat to sit on my lap,” said John Clark, a resident of the north central neighborhood.

Others cited visiting their neighbors and attending church as their favorite things to do.

Next the citizens were told to close their eyes and envision what they imagined their neighborhood to look like five years from now.

During the next activity, they were given instructions about how to carry out a strategic plan of action. This which involves attaining the proper resources necessary to fulfill individual tasks, according to the presentation.

Mark Brumbach, a former president of the Lenoir Wood residence association, said he came to the meeting to see how to make this association better.

He said residence associations generate a voice about the traffic problem on Lenoir Street where a one-way road creates traffic near the Industrial Park.

Meredith Donaldson of Woodridge-Shepard said she came to the meeting because she cares about neighborhood organizing.

“It’s important for people to know how to preserve their neighborhoods to keep them livable the skills have been lost,” she said.

She picked up on some ideas to improve the neighborhood that hadn’t occurred to her before. Talking to kids and getting their input is one such useful tool that adults can use to clarify the issues, she said.

The workshop concluded with Rex Campbell – chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force committee, a group of 17 individuals who work on long term planning for communities – who talked about the newly developed East Area Plan. There was also a brief discussion about what changes the attendees would like to see made to the planning process.

“A plan is only good when people buy into it and participate,” Campbell said.

The next workshop will focus on participation and will take place in two weeks in the Cascade neighborhood.

The leadership program has been held two sessions, and the third session will be held in February.


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