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Taya Dixon Mullane


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Taya Dixon Mullane

  1. 1. Planning for the INTERcultural City Practice + Visions Tufts University Intercultural Planning Group October 22, 2010
  2. 2. Taya Dixon Mullane, Leader, Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group Planning for the INTERcultural City
  3. 3. LOWER HIGHLANDS Neighborhood GroupThe Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group represents a group of residents, business owners and other community members working together to improve the quality of life in the Lower Highlands neighborhood of Lowell, MA. Our work focuses on achieving three primary goals: •Public Safety •Neighborhood Beautification •Community Building
  4. 4. THE LOWER HIGHLANDS Upper Highlands South Lowell Back Central The Acre Downtown
  5. 5. • The LHNG was formed in 2007 following a second fatal shooting at a neighborhood convenience store. • Building trust within the existing community has been the primary focus of the last three years of the current LHNG. • The Lower Highlands had an active neighborhood group in the 1990s that became defunct by the 2000s as many of those residents left the neighborhood as new residents from diverse cultural backgrounds moved into the community. LHNG BACKGROUND Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Violence in December 2008
  6. 6. THE LOWER HIGHLANDS Our Vision for an Intercultural Neighborhood and City Acceptance of Cultures Other Than Your Own by Neighbors AND City Hall • Lowell has a large minority population with twice the national average of foreign-born residents. •Approximately 35% of Lower Highlands residents are foreign-born. •Cambodians make up the largest percentage but there is also a concentration of the residents from the following: Latin American countries, Vietnam, Thailand, African nations, Brazil, and Laos. • Lowell has the highest concentration of Cambodian, Vietnamese and Laotians than any other community in the country – most of whom are heavily concentrated in the Lower Highlands and adjacent Acre neighborhood. • Approximate make-up of the neighborhood (2000 census): •10% Latino • 40% Asian • 50% white • The number of limited-English speakers is twice the national average in Lowell. Neighborhood Park Clean-up in May 2009
  7. 7. THE LOWER HIGHLANDS Our Vision for an Intercultural Neighborhood and City Creating Ownership of the Neighborhood by the Community that is Actively Supported by City Hall • The majority (about 60%) of housing in the Lower Highlands are rental units. • Average residency in the Lower Highlands is between 3-7 years. • Median Household Income is $40,000 (many are multi-family households). • Majority of neighborhood businesses are minority-owned. • Many businesses cater directly to the Cambodian community. • restaurants • markets • jewelry and clothing stores • hair salons • meeting places Meeting with DPW and City Councilors on major street flooding in July 2008
  8. 8. THE LOWER HIGHLANDS Partnering with Planners for an Intercultural City • Members of neighborhood groups are volunteers with jobs and families and need all the help we can get…don’t underestimate our desire to work with you. • Engage the community directly. • go to them…they are unlikely to come to you. • do your research…immerse yourself in the community. • accept that trust takes time…consider this in your timeline AND budget. • Understand the History. • is the community engaged; if not, why? • who are the leaders within the community and how did they get there? • what is the relationship with City Hall? • Develop realistic planning goals. • acknowledge disinvestment. • include quality of life improvements. • address the need for policy changes where warranted. National Night Out, “Movies at the Morey” in August 2010
  9. 9. THE LOWER HIGHLANDS Partnerships and Planning Initiatives • There had been no systematic community and urban planning initiatives in the Lower Highlands until the LHNG was formed in 2007. • April 2008 City Building Workshop on the Hamilton Canal District, Goody Clancy • December 2009 Lower Highlands Neighborhood Plan, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning • Summer 2010 City Manager’s Neighborhood Initiative, City of Lowell
  10. 10. THE LOWER HIGHLANDS What Works and What Doesn’t? • Hamilton Canal City Building Workshop • the planners tried to engage the community in unusual ways. • the community didn’t understand the benefit of the plan. • recommended inter-neighborhood wayfinding. • MIT Neighborhood Plan • immersion in the neighborhood resulted in interesting ideas. • confusion within the community of what the plan would/could do for us. • recommended the City allow the neighborhood to continue to grow organically. • City Manager’s Neighborhood Initiative • we talked, they listened. • cultural barriers and lack of trust slows progress. • recommended emphasis on Clemente Park. City Manager’s Neighborhood Initiative Kick-off Event at Clemente Park in July 2010