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Spring 2018 Project: The Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) of Southwest and Behind the Rocks is one of fourteen community advocacy groups in Hartford whose mission is to improve the quality of life for its residents. Working with the NRZ last semester, I gathered basic data on the local business community and, more importantly, on the neighborhood issues that were most critical to local business owners. The goal was to determine whether business owners would be willing to work with one another and with the NRZ, and, if so, what factors would encourage such collaboration. Our survey results identified four promising areas on which to base collaboration: public safety; infrastructure, streetscape and parking; street traffic; and building a sense of community. This semester’s work focuses on how the NRZ can use this information in order to support revitalization efforts. The first step in this work was to design and run an NRZ-local business conference. This step emphasized building relationships. The second step involved connecting lessons from the literature on community-based action to the operations of the NRZ itself in order to strengthen its organizational capabilities. Our findings suggest the importance of setting clear goals on the part of the NRZ; strengthening its own organizational structures and practices; and creating a more visible presence for the NRZ through marketing and media. The NRZ must now ensure its priorities and goals align with these lessons.


Community partner: Southwest and Behind the Rocks NRZ