I’m Kevin Foust. I live here in Riverside in the University Neighborhood. This is a wonderful place full of inspiring and colorful people. I think we can have an even better place here with a little work, a little help, and some creativity: The neighborhood of our dreams! Here’s a map of my neighborhood.
There are a lot of people that take pride in this little section of town. They paint and plant and put out street side libraries and produce stands. They help the student renters remembering that most of the students are just one or two years out of their parents home; living out in the world independently is new to them.
I look around the Univesity nieghboorhood and also see sights that concern me. Most of the things that need fixing won’t cost a lot to deal with. We just need a little help from the city and engaged, creative neighbors.
Many of my ideas for Riverside come from the work of people that have well tested ideas around sustainable, financially viable, community and neighborhood. The most influential has been Charles Marohn at Strong Towns. Charles’ basic message is this:
- Strong cities, towns and neighborhoods cannot happen without strong citizens (people who care).
- Local government is a platform for strong citizens to collaboratively build a prosperous place.
- Financial solvency is a prerequisite for long term prosperity.
- Land is the base resource from which community prosperity is built and sustained. It must not be squandered.
- A transportation system is a means of creating prosperity in a community, not an end unto itself.
- Job creation and economic growth are the results of a healthy local economy, not substitutes for one.
There is also the work of Paul Stewart in Oswego NY where they’ve got a thriving neighborhood level revitalization. One of the underpinnings in Oswego is the nature of their grants. They are matching grants to improve properties. They match so the people in the neighborhood have some skin in the game. The Oswego Renaissance Association captures the basic idea very clearly:
“A strong neighborhood develops when citizens leverage their neighborhood’s strengths and recognize the mutual dependencies between the people living in them. Neighborhoods are not only places where people live but they also act as markets; they are investments with interdependent stakeholders. The decision to live in, and invest, in a neighborhood is related to confidence in the neighborhood. Confidence is driven by signals and behaviors of the neighborhood itself; neighborhood pride, the condition of the homes, the upkeep in the properties, and the everyday behavior (social fabric) of the residents. These are inexorably linked. Negative signals and behaviors lead to disinvestment and decline, which in turn reduces confidence, promoting further disinvestment. Positive signals promote confidence, leading to investments in the neighborhood. This in turn promotes stable and increasing home values, attracts new residents, builds confidence, and increases capacity of the neighborhood to meet future challenges.”
I hope this blog can be catalyst for positive change in the Unversity Neighborhood and eventually the entire city of Riverside. To reach this goal, we need your creativity and input. Please leave comments on the blog posts; provide your input, wisdom, and desires for the University Neighborhood.
All the best to you!