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Columbia’s CCP: A Case Study

Resident and neighborhood participation in governmental processes, includ- ing activities such as applying for HUD or DOJ funds, is primarily provided through Columbia’s Council of Neighborhoods (CCN)—a council made up of presidents of neighborhood groups and associations. Significantly, the lead- ers of three CCP target neighborhoods have been instrumental in the devel- opment and maintenance of CCN. For example, the president of CCN is a resident of the Eau Claire neighborhood.

The origins of CCN are to be found in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting from what neighborhood representatives perceived of as the city’s preoccupation with revitalizing the downtown area while ignoring problems of residential neighborhoods. According to one of the presidents of a neighborhood associa- tion, “When you look at city government and departments in the ‘60s and ‘70s you would pick up on the fact that city government really didn’t care much

about make About

neighborhoods. The mayor was concerned about downtown—trying to

Columbia a ‘capital city.’ the mid-1980s, that began

They didn’t worry to change.” The Eau

about

neighborhoods.

Claire

neighborhood is

an

example.

Both

city

officials

and

neighborhood

representatives

agree

that

by the mid to late 1980s, whether had been largely “written off” as a whites had fled the area during the

by design or benign viable neighborhood. 1960s and 1970s. By

neglect, Eau Claire First, middle class the mid-1980s, mid-

dle class blacks these population

were fleeing shifts were

the area as well. According to city officials, a “jolt” alerting city officials that unless they

paid more attention to neighborhoods, the the downtown. Concurrently, according to

whole city would suffer—let alone a neighborhood president, “Neigh-

borhood

residents

just

didn’t

feel

that

they

had

a

part

in

government.”

Rep-

resentatives had been trying for some time to form the equivalent a counter measure, but unhappily without much success.

of

CCN

as

Finally, the president of the Elmwood Park area managed to create the CCN as a permanent, regularly convening association of neighborhood groups. At first, in the early 1980s, the CCN was a modest organization; as the current president notes, “Only six neighborhoods were at the table.” Yet for citizens, its creation provided an urgently needed voice in local governance. Its aim was to prevent conflict among neighborhoods and provide a united front in dealing with government and problems. By 1985, the CCN had grown to rep- resent 20 neighborhoods and was meeting in City Hall. In the words of a neighborhood president, “By this time, city government and its involvement with people, and money, and programs, and outreach, and staff-support, and everything else, began to develop not so much to run downtown Columbia, but to run the city of Columbia and to look at neighborhoods. Since then, the dollars and the efforts have gone toward answering the question, “‘What can we do for neighborhoods and how can we involve neighborhoods in govern-

ment?’ That is the trend

was

developed.”

In

his

sponds.

In

the

same

way,

that began in the 1980s and words again, “[Government] citizens listen and respond.”

influenced how CCP now listens and re-

BOTEC Analysis Corporation

6

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