Tuesday, March 6, 2012

End of Day 17: $2585.00

Thanks to a very generous donation, the total is now $100.00 higher, and over $2500.00.  Awesome!  Thanks for the continued support!

Thanks also to those of you out in Logan, UT who are helping to get the word out about the fundraiser (and are participating too!) that is going on Monday through Thursday this week (March 5 through 8th).  Pizza Pie Café (25 E 1400 N Logan, UT) will donate 25% of all food sales to this fundraiser!  All you have to do is bring this flyer with you when you eat there (flyers are also available in the ENVS departmental office at Utah State).  They even have gluten free!  So, go enjoy some pizza one, or several nights/days that week!  Check out the Facebook Event Page!

Here in Madison there are discussions going on about neighborhood centers.  The city is doing a study on the role of neighborhood centers and community needs and is hosting five meetings in March to receive public input.  The Meadowood Neighborhood Association will be discussing Madison's Community Development Division's study on neighborhood centers tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7 p.m. as a part of their normal monthly board meeting.  Meadowood neighbors are encouraged to attend.  Input for residents living on the West side of Madison can be made at one of the five "Community Conversations" the city is holding.  Thursday, March 22, 2012 from 6 to 7:00 p.m. at the Alicia Ashman Library.  

So, what are the benefits of neighborhood centers?  Depending on what types of "benefits" a person is interested in examining, it may be difficult to quantify.  Granting agencies and donors usually want to see things like attendance numbers, or crime reduction, or some other quantifiable indicator of benefit.  However, many larger benefits of neighborhood centers or community meeting spaces, may include things like strengthening social capital, which has been linked to overall health benefits and crime reduction (Alaimo et al. 2010), but "social capital" may be more difficult to quantify, than, say, number of people using a neighborhood center or exactly how much crime has been reduced as a result of the center being in an area.  

Social cohesion that may result from having a neighborhood center or similar facility, has been shown in larger cities to be linked to overall quality of life (Friedman et al 2012).  Further, the more a community's residents feel some sense of solidarity, the more a community is able to take on challenges (such as violence, and crime), and neighborhood centers can provide programming and space for residents to re-form these connections (Yan & Sin 2011).

Additionally, benefits may be more intrinsic, and include things like an increased self-esteem or self-worth.  Or, benefits of neighborhood centers may have a number of indirect effects based on the types of services being offered.  These indirect benefits may include increasing economic stability, or enhancing neighborhood quality (by reduction of crime rates), which can even provide benefit to non-participants of the center or of the specific programming being offered (Eamon et al. 2012).

Those are just a few, very general, potential benefits of neighborhood centers.  There is a lot of literature out there on all of the direct, indirect, intrinsic, and extrinsic benefits.  But, really, many of the benefits come out only from listening to the stories that participants or employees share about experiences.  I will be curious to learn a little more about these neighborhood center "community conversation" meetings, and I hope to attend the meeting tomorrow.

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