Data You Can Use

FROM PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST

Tag: Neighborhood Data

What makes your neighborhood great?

Who and what are the people, places and things really make your neighborhood a great place to live, work and play?

This question is at the heart of neighborhood asset mapping, and was the focus of a workshop for neighborhood leaders presented by Data You Can Use this past fall. We held the event at the Washington Park Library Community Room, which is a great space for communal events. We appreciate our public libraries as an important asset for us and for people we work with, and Milwaukee Public Library is a great resource for books, information and a lot more!

Observations from the workshop from the attendees

  • “I learned [a lot] about other neighborhoods & communities [in Milwaukee].”
  • “[I] realize how many assets I have in my neighborhood.”
  • “[This] broadened my view of an asset.”

I lead a session along with  Carrie Koss Vallejo and Katie Pritchard. We decided to introduce the concept of Neighborhood Asset Mapping through a series of exercises:

  • Begin by describing your own personal assets—strengths, resources, skills. Share some examples with the group.
  • Consider the benefits of discussing things in terms of assets rather than problems or deficits.
  • Discuss the concept of a “neighborhood asset”  from the Asset Based Community Development Institute.
  • Ask individuals to  list the assets that are in their neighborhood.
  • Break into groups to share assets and discuss findings. For a sample of assets identified see here.
  • Reconvene the full group to discuss how asset mapping can help identify gaps in a neighborhood and opportunities for connecting.

As I was learning about asset mapping from them, it was great to rely on the attendees’ expertise while planning for the event, and to have them on hand during the day!

What is neighborhood asset mapping and who is it for?

Neighborhood asset maps, or “Asset Based Community Development” is a term coined by the ABCD Institute out of Northwestern University. While a more detailed description can be found ts on their website, the basic rationale is this:

Without the capacity for change, neighborhood change may not happen. Focusing first on what assets a neighborhood has, and where the opportunities and gaps are can reduce the effort to make things happen, which increases a neighborhood’s capacity for change.

That statement sounds good, but what does that mean for a resident on a block?

Making change happen in a neighborhood takes effort, time and resources. One of the most important parts of any change process is to understand your existing resources so that you can build from what you have. This is really at the heart of the work of Data You Can Use and is what Neighborhood Asset Mapping is all about.

In short, asset mapping is a way to collaboratively identify and visually describe assets and to use them as the basis of  building stronger, sustainable communities.

So who is neighborhood asset mapping for and who should use it? It is a tool for all stakeholders in a neighborhood or community. That includes residents, property owners, community organizations, community organizers and government. The collaborative process of asset mapping relies on the knowledge and insights of the residents and stakeholders who live and work in the community. The focus on identifying existing resources rather than deficits is more action oriented and can allow neighborhood residents to begin to link resources together and begin to address issues that have a more powerful  effect.

What can you do with neighborhood asset maps?

It is common for neighborhoods that are struggling with a particular issue to work inside their neighborhood and seek outside funding and assistance to help make change happen. One of the challenges of working with multiple outside partners is this: what is valuable to a resident in a neighborhood is not always what appears valuable to outside eyes. While not always the case, DYCU believes strongly on a “resident-first” approach. When mapping assets, it is important to start with the voices of people who live and work in a neighborhood, then to bring in outside resources to help satisfy that identified want. This practice helps ensure that the needs of the community are clearly represented in community development work.

Data You Can Use has created asset maps, and some of those are available on our web site. Stay tuned for updates!

As much need or want as a neighborhood might have, identifying existing resources within the community is an important first step.  We are excited about partnering with others to use asset mapping in neighborhood development and in further exploring ways to assure that the voice of people who live and work in a neighborhood is integral to the work.

Want to learn more about Neighborhood Asset Mapping for your neighborhood? You can learn more about the ABCD Institute here and by contacting us.

Events of Interest

Neighborhood Data: What’s Happening in Other Cities?*
Wednesday, June 15th, 10:00, Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Highlights from the most recent National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership meeting in San Antonio. Find out what ‘s happening in partner cities that are concerned about using data to improve neighborhoods. Katie Pritchard, from Data You Can Use, will provide a summary of resources and possibilities that may be of interest to you and your neighborhood work.  This will be provided for staff from Healthy Neighborhoods and may be open to others with interest.

For more information, contact Darlene Russell at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.


 Who’s in your neighborhood? – Using the American FactFinder*
Zilber School of Public Health on Thursday June 16th from 9:00—11:30.

Gain experience in using the US Census Bureau’s American FactFinder data access tool. Learn about what data are available, how to access the data sets, and how to use the data to inform decisions in your neighborhood. The training will be led by Salma Abadin and Carrie Koss Vallejo of Data You Can Use in partnership with the Nonprofit Center. Participants are welcome to bring their laptops or use the computers in the facility. This will be “hands on” training primarily for CDBG agencies.

For more information, contact Joyce Mallory at the Nonprofit Center.


 Map for Free?  A look at Open Source Mapping*
Thursday July 14th from 9:00—11:00 at the Zilber School for Public Health

This open source mapping training is an opportunity to learn best practices which can be applied across tools, with an opportunity to apply them using MapBox Studio.  The training will be led by Carrie Koss Vallejo and Salma Abadin of Data You Can Use in partnership with the Nonprofit Center.  By the end of the session, attendees will have created a resource map* in Milwaukee! Participants are welcome to bring their laptops or use the computers in the facility. This will be “hands on” training primarily for CDBG agencies.

For more information, contact Joyce Mallory at the Nonprofit Center.


Theory of Change?  What’s that and why do I need one?
Wednesday July 27, 9:00–11:00 at the Nonprofit Center.

Have you been asked by a funder “But what’s your theory of change?”  What do they mean by this and why do they need to know? Find out why a developing your theory of change can be just what you need to improve planning, evaluation, and community engagement around your social change work. Presented by Katie Pritchard, Data You Can Use, in partnership with the Nonprofit Center.

For more information, contact Susanne Vella

* The first three trainings are primarily for staff of CDBG agencies, and open to others as space permits.

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