Following the designation of the 46th and Market neighborhood as an Opportunity Zone in West Philadelphia, The Enterprise Center contracted Connect the Dots to design a creative engagement strategy to gather community input and guide future investment towards a more equitable and community-oriented model. In order to collect community feedback, CTD built partnerships with 7 community-based organizations to help with outreach and to co-create hybrid engagement tactics in the form of accessible digital and phone surveys, online chat sessions, and remote workshops. In addition to a ‘Letter to Future Investors’ that now introduces the City’s Investor Prospectus for the area including community-based recommendations for investors to better guide the neighborhood’s development, the project also led to the creation of a community partnership network that can better negotiate with investors, advocacy organizations and city government on future projects.
Connect the Dots focused engagement efforts on practices of trust building within community partnerships while layering remote engagement tactics to maximize accessibility. Co-design with neighborhood organizations prioritized sustainable engagement over extractive and immediate data collection. This project also occurred in the heart of the pandemic in a neighborhood with a vast digital divide so CTD had to innovate and consider remote and hybrid options – not just online.
The Letter served as a first port of call for future investors and developers, reaching thousands of residents in the area, as an initial means to understand how their work can tie in with the community’s aspirations. It also served as a tool for those who will be negotiating with investors and developers (such as community groups, the City and the Councilmembers) to make sure community interests are represented. Overall project outcomes thus include: