“Tonight, even though we were virtual, we had a sense of community…and that is what will be remembered about Carrboro in 20 years to come.” – Council Member Randee Haven O’Donnell
CARRBORO, NC -- More than 100 people from across Carrboro came together earlier this month for a bilingual evening of virtual community-building, learning, and idea-sharing.
Despite the simultaneous tornado watch, workshop participants came engaged and excited to weigh in on Carrboro Connects, the Town’s first comprehensive plan. The evening on Thursday, March 18, 2021, featured musical performances, local history, perspectives from new and long-time Carrboro residents, and deep dives on plan topics in smaller breakout groups. If you missed it, you can view the workshop on the Town’s YouTube page here! https://youtu.be/BPr2RKE1JlI
Carrboro Connects is a comprehensive planning effort that is addressing climate action, race and equity, affordable housing, and economic and fiscal sustainability. At the Community Workshop neighbors exchanged ideas about making Carrboro a stronger and more inclusive community. You are invited to share your input anytime at www.carrboroconnects.org. On the site, you can mark comments on a map, share photos, and weigh in on what you think would help improve Carrboro.
Local Artists Greet Participants
As guests entered the Zoom Workshop, everyone had a chance to listen to a song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr1vICMnVLw&&t=757s from the Hamiltone’s, one of North Carolina’s talented groups performing at this year’s virtual Freight Train Blues Concert Series https://musicmaker.org/freight-train-blues/ (website to be updated soon with 2021 event program).
The first half of the workshop was packed with a line-up of residents of all ages and backgrounds including artists, small business owners, students, professors, and local stakeholders who shared perspectives from their time in Carrboro. This helped set the stage for future planning—reaching back in order to look forward is a key component of Carrboro Connects. Huge thanks to Dolores and Lorie Clark (view their 1-minute video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uEXyTgJvFo and full video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcUgT0S1EUA, Frances Shetley, Richard Ellington, David Dixon, Jackie Thompson, and Conner Lopez for sharing their thoughtful reflections!
Race, Equity, and Latinx Facebook Live Event
Anita Jones-McNair (Carrboro’s Race & Equity Officer and Director of Carrboro’s Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Resources Department) and Eliazar Posada (El Centro Hispano) then spoke to the power and importance of planning and engagement. Anita described the extensive planning process that brought MLK Jr. Park to fruition and Eliazar shared highlights from a recent Facebook Live event for Carrboro Connects. This event connected and engaged the Latinx community, was broadcast fully in Spanish, and allowed residents to chime in through comments in the chat.
“The power of race and equity work, the power of community engagement, and the power of planning is when ideas become action… these elements are all so impactful during this planning process and for ongoing community work.” –Anita Jones-McNair
“We had the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem listening directly to the needs and questions of our community…this event showed the Town’s commitment to inclusivity.” – Eliazar Posada, speaking about the Latinx Facebook Live Event held on March 4
Participants then divided into breakout rooms for small group discussions around the plan’s different topic areas: with two groups focusing on Climate Change / Transportation / Recreation, Parks and the other two groups focusing on Culture / Affordable Housing / Economic Sustainability / and Public Services. In addition, there was a session conducted in Spanish that covered the topic areas.
Check out this mindmap illustration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpjVXjXQ6wQ of the workshop, drawn in real-time by Erin Cigliano of the project team. This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpjVXjXQ6wQ and images capture just some of the many meaningful, forward-thinking conversations that were had!
“To celebrate the topics of this evening’s workshop we will be mind-mapping it in real time. For those unfamiliar, mind mapping synthesizes input by showcasing ideas graphically, an illustrative summary of sorts. Why are we doing this? Visuals are processed by the brain 60,000x faster than text alone, and many folks (~60%) are visual learners. We will show you a quick preview of this evening’s mind map at the end of the workshop, and will share with website subscribers following this evening’s event.”
The evening concluded with a reconvening of all participants to share the “big ideas” that emerged from each breakout group (see below for list of the big ideas).
Amythyst Kiah’s song “Firewater” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kePnkit0m4 played as participants typed one word to describe how they were feeling in the chat.
Carrborific, encouraged, refreshed, excited, listo (ready), creative, resolute, connected, thankful, energized, esperanza (hopeful), committed.
Thank You! Gracias!
“Thank you to all who are helping us move forward as a true community. My heart is smiling and Amythyst is adding to the vibe. So beautiful.” –Workshop participant
THANK YOU to all who participated for sharing your time and thoughts with us! We hope you continue to be engaged and bring in new voices and perspectives to join this effort. You can stay involved by registering for the website https://www.carrboroconnects.org/ to hear about future events and news (see upper right-hand corner on the site). While you’re there, take a few minutes to learn about the project and view draft documents https://www.carrboroconnects.org/documents Share your ideas on the map https://www.carrboroconnects.org/map-input/maps/map-input or via the ideas tool https://www.carrboroconnects.org/share-ideas
Happy Spring, Carrboro – now let’s keep up the momentum and work together to make Carrboro an even better place to live, work and enjoy the outdoors.
“Paso a paso, vamos lejos / Step by step, we go further” –Workshop Participant
Links from the Workshop:
Big Ideas from Breakout Groups:
- Our two biggest sources of greenhouse gases are buildings and transportation. Let’s focus on switching to clean energy in our homes/public buildings and move away from auto-centric transportation
- Create educational opportunities for residents to participate in various actions, utilizing open and natural space by private owners, composting, enhancing biodiversity
Recreation, Parks, and Culture
- Conexión de parques y senderos, conexión entre las escuelas, parques y comunidades, viajar de forma segura / Connection of parks and trails, connection between schools, parks and communities, traveling safely
- When the new library is built (as part of the 203 Project), we could host a “walk around town” event to get people out and about exercising, learning about history of town
- Maintain and share resources with the community, focusing on education and outreach
- Model the future we want – for example, close Weaver Street to cars every Sunday morning and let people see what the town is like without cars
- Do not discount non-ambulatory folks and other groups, create welcoming space for recreational and work transportation, and advocate for more responsive use of roads (see the whole system, cost of parking, reduce cut through traffic)
- Transportation needs to be made more accessible to affordable housing, other places to fit needs, evening/weekend routes
- Ayuda con la cuota inicial, recursos financieros, vivienda habitable de calidad, pequeñas viviendas / Help with down payments, financial resources, quality livable housing, tiny homes
- We need to balance the land we save with our needs, i.e. green space balance with affordable housing needs
- Make it easier to build affordable housing – also consider mandates for affordable housing to make sure that Carrboro is always developing affordable units
- Expand Community Home Trust
- Ayudar a las personas iniciar negocios, proporcionar educación básica de cómo iniciar un negocio, identificar si pueden hacerlo y si pueden hacerlo en Carrboro en lugar de en otra ciudad / Help people start businesses, provide basic education on how to start a business, identify if they can do it in Carrboro rather than in another city
- Encourage ways for more people to have a stake in their workplace – entrepreneurship and worker owned, cooperative ownership, etc.
- Create a more equal footing for people – consider creating a reparations plan
- Encourage living wage jobs
- Consider the costs of extending services
- Think about who is paying for services and who benefits from these services (Progressive vs. regressive taxes)
- Transportation for affordable housing that routes to places that fit the needs of that population
- Distribution is required for achieving equity not just inclusion