Building Community Ownership in an Uncertain Time | Our Work on the GroundLeave a Comment
As talks of a potential merger between Wilkinsburg Borough and the City of Pittsburgh grew, Neighborhood Allies became interested in increasing the level of true and impactful community engagement around this topic. We hope that by providing the resources to engage meaningfully with the neighborhood, we are helping to build community ownership and ensure the inclusion of resident voices in this important discussion.
Note that our organization remains neutral on whether Wilkinsburg borough and the City of Pittsburgh should merge or not. Instead, our motivation is to ensure that the resident voice is centered in this conversation and that residents are provided the knowledge and information they need to be confident in voicing their opinion and ultimately, in making informed decisions when it comes time to vote on this issue.
A recent grant provided to the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) is directly supporting objective research and community engagement activities of this initiative so that residents are more aware and better informed of the possible municipal merger/consolidation process. The purpose of this engagement process is to:
- Provide easy access to all facts, pros/cons and implications that would result from a consolidation/merger,
- Create an accessible, transparent and trusted platform for all residents to ask questions and get the information they need to form their own opinion.
The ongoing process of engagement with Wilkinsburg residents, which includes broad outreach and numerous opportunities to understand, participate, question and explore the possible merger/consolidation of Wilkinsburg Borough and the City of Pittsburgh began in May 2020 with an open conversation in a Focus Group format. Since then, the process has been ongoing through resident-led committees and will continue over the next 12-18 months. Opportunities for involvement include participating on a committee, providing feedback, and volunteering to circulate petitions and information.
The WCDC is also working with Jasiri X of 1Hood Media & Emmai Alaquiva to schedule a series of community meetings. The goal of the meetings is to provide a facilitated forum with space for community members to share and hear thoughts, feelings, hopes, concerns, and experiences related to a potential merger of the Borough of Wilkinsburg with the City of Pittsburgh. The facilitators have been chosen specifically because of their expertise in creating a respectful atmosphere and encouraging people with varying perspectives to participate.
Wilkinsburg residents are invited and encouraged to attend and participate in these upcoming community meetings as well as Neighborhood Visioning Sessions, the details of which can be found below. To stay up to date with the merger and engagement process visit: https://wilkinsburgmerger.org/.
Upcoming Neighborhood Visioning Sessions:
- 9/14 – Peebles Square, Regent Square, Whitney Park, Greater Park Place, Kelly West: (5:30-7pm) Location TBD
- 9/23 – Beacon Hill, Upper Penn: (5:30-7pm) 725 Wood St
- 9/21 – Hamnett Place: (5:30-7pm) 725 Wood St
- TBD – Vacant Property Re-Use Plan Review/Input Session
- TBD – Presentation of Final Vacant Property Re-Use Plan