Facilitated Community Dialogues are intended to bring together immigrants and non-immigrants around topics of mutual interest and concern. The first of these dialogues, conducted at the downtown central Library in April and May, was a city-wide approach on the topic of adult learning. While nearly 70 people participated in the month-long dialogue process, participants were not reflective of the City’s residents and richly diverse neighborhoods. Consequently, it was agreed to pilot a more targeted grassroots approach by working with residents of the Asylum Hill neighborhood. Through the support of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association NRZ (AHNA). Established in 1990, AHNA's core mission of addressing key issues and concerns in the neighborhood, as well as involving more immigarnts is well aligned with our project’s goal - making Asylum Hill a more welcoming community for new-arrival immigrants and long-term residents alike.
AHNA (Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association) website, click here
A map of the Asylum Hill neighborhood, click here.
AHNA Brochure English Spanish
Neighborhood Approach Community Dialogue Outline
STEP 1: INITIAL WELCOMING EVENT PLANNING
In July 2012, members of Harford Public Library met with members of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Assocation and the South Marshall Coalition as well as other community stakeholders to discuss possible ideas for engaging Asylum Hill residents in active exchange on pressing neighborhood issues. The idea of a fall welcoming event was mutually agreed upon by planning members and coordination was soon underway. The event’s primary purpose was that of gathering community leaders, neighborhood representatives and families together to share food, their stories and ideas through facilitated discussion.
Welcoming Event Goals:
Create a safe space for introductions and relationship building
Learn about other cultures, communities and institutions
Welcome immigrants, new arrivals and families
Serve as a step towards holding community conversations/dialogues
STEP 2: WELCOMING EVENT
The Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association Welcoming event was held on Saturday, November 10, 2012. In co-sponsorship with Hartford Public Library, the event’s main purpose was that of encouraging relationship building and community conversations among Asylum Hill residents who ranged from long term, native-born city dwellers to new arrival immigrant families from around the globe. The over eighty adults and children attended the event, hailing from countries such as Burma, Nepal, Bhutan, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and the Congo, joined members of the receiving community for facilitated discussion and a lunchtime feast.
Click here to view more photos from the event.
STEP 3: NEIGHBOR TO NEIGHBOR EVENT PLANNING
After the November 2012 Welcoming Event, both the Asylum Hill Planning committee and a newly formed Asylum Hill Steering committee met regularly to discuss the organization of the community conversation event to be held in late spring 2013. Initially the approach was to engage event attendees in a rather formal formal dialogue on issues that had been identified as the most pressing in the neighborhood during the November event. However as the planning continued, it became clear that more emphasis still needed to be placed on encouraging relationship building among neighbors/residents through a less formal dialogue process. At this early stage of the AHNA/HPL partnership, attempting to articulate problem solving steps seemed premature.
STEP 4: NEIGHBOR TO NEIGHBOR EVENT
The Neighbor to Neighbor event was held on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at Immanuel Church Reception Hall in Hartford. Building on the November Welcoming Event, the day began with an activity promoting interactive dialogue and personal skill identification. Participants got to know one another and shared their strengths and abilities. After enjoying a delicious lunch from various local ethnic restaurants, group members referred to a list of topics identified at the November event and matched participants' skills with those topics so as to come up with ideas on how neighborhood residents' talent and resources could be mobilized to improve the neighborhood. At the conclusion of the day's event, group leaders reported out their list of "Things We Can Do Together." Guests also enjoyed multicultural entertainment which featured including Nepalese dance and song.
Click here to view photos from the event.
To learn more about Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association, go to www.asylumhill.org or call Bernie Michel at (860) 944-6614.